Home Health Aide Requirements in Oklahoma

Oklahoma defines a home health aide as someone who provides personal care services. Personal care is largely about helping people meet their basic needs; this includes things like getting out of bed, dressing, bathing, moving about, and getting exercise. Clients may have a range of physical conditions and cognitive impairments. Some have little, if any, use of arms or legs. Some are very frail. Some are regaining cognitive and physical functions after a stroke.

Home health aides complete training and competency evaluations. Oklahoma home health aides are nurse aides. The state recognizes multiple classifications of nurse aide, including long term care aide, home health aide, and developmentally disabled aide. In one sense, Oklahoma sets standards higher than some states; it extends home health aide requirements to some workers who would be exempt in other states. This doesn’t mean that prospective home health aides spend a long time in school, though. Training may be completed within a few weeks. Schools and home care agencies, moreover, have a responsibility for providing guidance.

Most people who want to become home health aides can. The most fundamental thing is that they don’t have anything on their records to suggest that they wouldn’t be trustworthy. Prospective HHAs will also need to develop some technical skills. The work will take some coordination and strength. The person will also need to be able to observe changes in client condition and communicate them to the appropriate person.

Select an Oklahoma Home Health Aide Topic:

The Oklahoma Home Care System

All home health agencies that participate in Medicare nationwide are subject to federal Medicare training standards. Medicare typically provides intermittent or short-term care under medical direction. Many people who receive long-term support with activities of daily living receive support through another governmental program: Medicaid. In some states, these personal care aides have lesser training standards. Not so in Oklahoma, as the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute notes (https://phinational.org/policy/states/oklahoma/). While some people do provide care under client-directed programs, home care agency employees who provide personal care to Medicaid-funded populations must be home health aides. In fact, credentialing is required even if the client – or his or her loved one – is paying out of pocket. An individual must be certified in order to provide personal care services for a home care agency, whatever his or her title.

This doesn’t mean that all unlicensed home care personnel will be home health aides. Supportive home assistants are state regulated, but they are regulated separately. Supportive assistants can do things like prepare food, but they offer only standby assistance with personal care tasks. Standby assistance is offered to clients who have sufficient mobility.

Companion/ sitter services are regulated separately from home health agencies.

A person can begin work for a home care agency before receiving an HHA credential but cannot work there more than four months without one.

Oklahoma Home Health Aide Training Programs

The Department of Health has provided a list of approved nurse aide programs (https://www.ok.gov/health/Protective_Health/Health_Resources_Development_Service/). The list is organized according to the type of nurse aide credential. A prospective trainee can call the Nurse Aide Registry to request training application materials

Programs may be offered by healthcare organizations or educational institutions. A number are offered through technology centers.

All nurse aides educated in Oklahoma receive ten hours of training related to Alzheimer’s. The curriculum includes the behavior and needs of individuals with dementias as well as ways to communicate with the cognitively disabled and ways to minimize effects.

A training and competency evaluation program will be at least 75 hours. Some programs are longer; they may prepare individuals for multiple endorsements. It is common to enroll in a long-term care/ home health combined program and then complete an additional 16-hour program to earn a home health endorsement; the process of training for the additional endorsement is called deeming.

The long-term care training and evaluation program includes various skills that are applicable to caring for people who are frail, disabled, or bedridden across settings. Examples include assisting someone to use a walker, helping someone shower who needs to use a shower chair, cleaning dentures, and giving a back rub.

The following are among the setting-specific things that a person would need to know to be successful in a home care setting: how to identify safety hazards in the home, how to communicate effectively with client, family members, and care team members, how to clean appliances, and how to plan meals for a home care client.

The Registry Application Process

Oklahoma maintains a registry. It is used to ensure that prospective hires have not abused clients or committed other acts that would make them unemployable; it is also used to keep track of who has done their training and whether they are current.

A person who completes an Oklahoma-approved program can expect the program to take an active role in ensuring that requirements have been met and documentation submitted. Some requirements must be met at the start of class. Application materials for reciprocity can be found on the Nurse Aide and Nontechnical Services Worker Registry web site (https://www.ok.gov/health/Protective_Health/Health_Resources_Development_Service/).

Medication Aide Endorsement

Home health aides can pursue additional training as medication aides. They will learn how to apply different kinds of medication: ear medication, nasal drops, ointments. The curriculum also includes content related to infection control and vital signs.

Average Home Health Aide Salary and Career Outlook for Oklahoma

Home health aides average $11.91 an hour in Oklahoma, according to data from 2016. Home health aides generally make more than individuals classified as personal care aides. In Oklahoma, the difference is significant. The average wage for the latter is just $9.44.

Oklahoma’s home health aide occupation levels have been predicted to increase by 30% between 2014 and 2024.

Additional Resources

The Oklahoma Nurse Aide Registry can be reached at (405) 271-4085 or (800) 695-2157.