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Home Health Aide Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota, like many states, is challenged with meeting the long- and short-term needs of its elderly and disabled populations. Home health aides are among those at the forefront, going into people’s living spaces and giving them the basic care that, in many cases, keeps them from requiring a trip to the hospital or a stay in a nursing facility.

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Home Health Aide Duties and Job Description

Many work for certified home health agencies. Patients of these organizations may be covered through Medicare or through governmental programs that offer assistance to individuals with long-term needs. Depending on the program, the worker may be classified as a personal care aide.

The traditional work of the home health or personal care aide involves bathing and other personal care, meal preparation and basic nutrition, and assistance with mobility (which may include things like using equipment to assist client from bed to wheelchair). Home health aides may assist with basic exercises under the direct of physical therapists and other therapists. Home care workers may also keep the environment clean and healthy: changing linens, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry.

Sometimes they do more. The AARP has identified a number of nursing-related duties that may sometimes be delegated by a nurse. Different states have different regulations about these functions. South Dakota allows, in some instances at least, a majority of the skills on the list.

Some job postings for home health aide are placed by organizations or individuals other than home health agencies. Not all organizations that employ people to assist people with personal care, mobility, and nutritional needs are Medicare-certified. This doesn't mean they are lesser. It can instead mean they have a different focus. Medicare does not cover all types of home care even for eligible populations.

HHAs should be aware, however, that if they are not working in a position that fully utilizes their skills, earnings may be lower. In South Dakota, there is considerable difference between workers who are classified as home health aides for statistical purposes by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and those who are classified as personal care aides.

Training for Employment as an HHA in a Medicare-Certified Home Health Agency

South Dakota home health aides meet training standards set at the federal level. Medicare-qualifying home health training programs are at least 75 hours. They develop skills in a number of areas related to personal care and hygiene; the individual will for example, need to be able to provide a bed bath and a tub, sponge, or shower bath. Additionally, programs cover the following:

  • Positioning/ range of motion
  • Ambulation
  • Nutrition and hygiene
  • Taking vital signs
  • Communication skills
  • Documentation
  • Body functions/ changes that need to be reported
  • Recognition and handling of emergency
  • Enviroment

Programs include at least 16 supervised practical hours.

Competency evaluation is mandatory. Many skills are evaluated based on patient care. Federal code states that the home health aide will not only be assessed on tasks that appear on the list but on others that the home health agency will ask the aide to perform.

Some competencies are more about knowledge and understanding and may be assessed in other ways, such as testing.

Sometimes individuals receive comparable training through another pathway. Federal code allows for qualification based on passing a competency evaluation program.

Home health aides can expect to receive orientation from their employing agency.

Best South Dakota Home Health Organizations to Work for

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes two categories of star ratings for Medicare-certified home health agencies. The following are among the South Dakota home health agencies that rank above the norm in both subjective (client survey) and objective (clinical indicator) data:

  • Sioux Center Home Health and Hospice
  • Regional Health Home Plus Home Health in Spearfish
  • Heartland Home Health in Belle Fourche

Various third parties also weigh in on home care organizations. Some home care agencies utilize Home Care Pulse for quality management and customer service. High-caliber organizations may be recognized with any of several awards. Right at Home – Southeast South Dakota was recognized as both ‘Leader in Excellence’ and ‘Employer of Choice’ in 2017. Comfort Keepers – Black Hills was recognized as ‘Employer of Choice’.

The Southeast South Dakota Right at Home agency was also awarded a Caring Star by Caring.com. Caring.com is a site designed for family caregivers; awards are based on reviews.

Average Home Health Aide Salary in South Dakota and Career Outlook

South Dakota home health aides average $13.32 an hour.

South Dakota home health aide employment levels have been projected to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024.

Additional Career Opportunities

South Dakota has more assisted living units than the norm, relative to population. South Dakota assisted living facilities may be licensed to provide various specialized skills. Medication aide can be an asset for those seeking employment in assisted living residences (http://doh.sd.gov/boards/nursing/MATPApproval.aspx).

Other individuals may aspire to be patient care technicians in acute care settings.

Those who want to use aide positions as a springboard to higher level healthcare positions may find opportunities as well. There are programs in South Dakota designed to help people finance health training and to entice them to going where the need is greatest. Entry-level healthcare work will not always have a direct bearing on opportunities. However, a person can get an introduction to different health disciplines and make some connections.