Home Health Aide Requirements in Colorado

Home health is big business. It doesn’t take a lot of education. It takes compassion, patience, and a basic level of fitness and coordination. Caregivers have the most opportunity if they have some nursing-related training and have passed a competency evaluation. Some aides complete training in less than a month. Others spend a semester or so. Ultimately, those who achieve certification will be qualified to work in any of many settings: home care agencies, hospices, assisted living facilities – or, if they prefer, in institutional settings. The same basic program can offer preparation for positions that are home-based and those that are not.

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The Role of a Colorado Home Health Aide and Training Requirements

Home health aides may performed skilled or unskilled personal care as well as provide homemaking services. Often, it’s not the task itself that determines whether personal care is skilled so much as it is the patient’s condition. Dressing a person is not necessarily skilled care even if the person has an orthopedic device, but it becomes skilled care if it will be necessary to manipulate the device quite a bit or if the patient is just learning to use it. Dressing is also considered skilled if the aide must put prescription pressure stockings on a person. (This type of sock may be prescribed for circulatory issues.) The agency that the home health aide (or other caregiver) works for will be licensed. Healthcare professionals take responsibility for assigning skilled services. The amount of supervision the aide will receive depends on circumstances.

Patients may pay for home services in different ways, including Medicare and Medicaid. Many clients of course are elderly. Some, though, are not. It is not uncommon, though, for younger people, even children, to receive services through Medicaid waiver programs. One of Colorado’s Medicaid waivers, for example, serves individuals with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy or intellectual disability.

Some Medicaid recipients receive home health aide services on an acute basis for up to 60 days. Others receive long-term care. Medicaid provides only unskilled services secondary to skilled ones. Some individuals and families of course opt for private payer services. An organization is not necessarily lesser because it is not Medicare-certified.

Caregivers who provide home health services through Colorado Medicaid are CNAs. They may, however, be referred to as home health aides. BEO Personal Care notes that home care is a “huge employer” for people who are trained as CNAs. A prospective home health aide could even receive training through an agency that offers home health services. There are also plenty of schools that can prepare a person to work across settings.

Colorado sets requirements for CNAs and home health aides at the minimum national standard: 75 total hours of training to include at least 16 hours of clinical work. A home care worker with nursing assistant training will have a lot of skills. The amount of care that patients will actually need will of course vary greatly.

Qualifying as a Nurse Aide in Colorado

First-time certification as a CNA is dependent on passing a national examination. The NNAAP includes two components. One is a written test (or an oral one, if the candidate feels more comfortable hearing the questions). The other is a skills test. It includes nursing-related duties; they will be drawn from among the 22 skills listed in the candidate handbook. The candidate may, for example, need to demonstrate that he or she knows how to put on that elastic stocking! Among the other skills that may be tested: cleaning a denture, carrying out range of motion exercises, feeding a client, dressing a client who has a weak arm, and using a transfer belt to move someone from bed to wheelchair. Some candidates test in-facility. Others go to a regional site.

Colorado Home Health and Home Care Organizations

Home health and home care organizations aren’t all the same, and there are plenty of organizations and individuals weighing in with their opinions. The Denver Post ranked Team Select Home Care #10 out of all mid-size companies in its ‘Top Workplaces 2017’ feature (http://www.denverpost.com/2017/04/07/top-workplaces-2017-team-select-health-care/). One thing that makes the company stand out, according to the Post, is employee appreciation.

Halcyon Hospice & Palliative Care also received a mention as a top mid-size employer. Visiting Angels of Denver and Visiting Angels of Westminster both made the list of small employers; the Denver location came in at #4 on this list.

Medicare Compare, a governmental site, issues star ratings for Medicare-certified home health agencies. The following are among Colorado’s highest ranked (as of summer 2017):

  • Mercy Home Health in Durango
  • Parkview Homecare in Pueblo
  • Team Select Home Care of Colorado in Aurora

Some home care agencies, including private payer organizations, contract with Home Care Pulse to assess quality and customer satisfaction. Each year, Home Care Pulse recognizes high-achieving organizations in several categories. The following Colorado home care agencies were recognized as ‘Employer of Choice’ in 2017:

  • Home Care Assistance (Centennial, El Paso County, and Jefferson County locations)
  • Visiting Angels (Colorado Springs and Grand Junction locations)
  • Comfort Keepers (Durango location)
  • All the Comfort of Home, Inc.

Career Outlook and Average Home Health Aide Salary in Colorado

Colorado’s home health aide employment levels are slated for a huge increase. Fully 58% increase has been projected for the 2014 to 2024 decade. This translates to about 1,210 job openings a year.

Colorado home health aides made $13.02 an hour (or $27,080 for a year of full-time employment) in 2016.

Currently, Pueblo, Colorado is among the metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs in this particular occupation — it comes in at #10 nationwide (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311011.htm).

Additional Resources

The Colorado government has provided a directory of home health agencies (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/home-care-agencies-consumer-resources). Interested individuals can search by county or city.

Information about the nursing assistant qualification process is available from Pearson VUE (http://www.pearsonvue.com/co/nurseaides/).