Home Health Aide Requirements in Virginia

Virginia has very high need for trained, competent home health aides. HHAs help patients function in a home setting (as opposed to having to stay in a more restrictive place like a skilled nursing facility). Some patients receive multiple health-related therapies and services in their homes. Home health aides carry out duties that require relatively little training and are regarded as unskilled. Among the more common duties are assisting with mobility, hygiene, and nutrition.

Though the work is considered unskilled, home health aides do need some specialized training.

Select a Virginia Home Health Aide Topic:

Working for Virginia Home Care Agencies

Regulation is at the agency level. Virginia home care agencies are licensed unless they fall under an exemption. An agency might be exempted because it was regulated by an acceptable national organization or because it provided only very basic services like homemaking and chores. (Homemakers are allowed limited tasks that involve touch, for example, fastening articles of clothing or stabilizing someone while they walk. Mostly, though, they care for the home environment.

Home health agencies and personal care agencies are both considered home care. The difference is the overall setup of the organization. Fairfax County has provided an overview of in-home care with some discussion of the role of the aide within home care (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dfs/olderadultservices/in-home-care-guide.htm).

Home care agencies must follow hiring and training requirements set down in state code. Employees must go through a criminal background check.

They must receive orientation. Training requirements may be met in any of several ways. The individual may be trained as a nurse, as a nursing assistant, or as a home health aide (in accordance with federal standards for Medicare-certified agencies). Aides who have only personal care duties may be trained in accordance with the state personal care curriculum.

Virginia code uses the term ‘home attendant’ and notes that other terms may be used: home health aide, home care aide, personal care aide, certified nursing assistant/ CNA. Some titles, like CNA, denote particular types of training.

Home Health Aide Training in Virginia

In order to practice at a Medicare-certified agency, a person must meet national standards for training and competency evaluation (or, in some cases, competency evaluation alone). Training programs are at least 75 hours total. They include at least 16 hours of practical experience. The following topics are covered:

  • Maintaining a safe and livable environment
  • Reading and recording pulse and other vitals
  • Understanding patient needs
  • Communicating
  • Observing and reporting patient status
  • Understanding body functions and changes in function that require reporting
  • Providing safe, appropriate hygiene and grooming (for example, bed baths, oral hygiene, shampoos)
  • Positioning clients and promoting normal range of motion
  • Using safe ambulation and transfer techniques
  • Maintaining adequate fluid and nutrition intake
  • Using infection control
  • Recognizing emergencies and following the proper procedures

A home health agency cannot consider that a worker has met requirements for competency evaluation if the person has not passed all skills but one (https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/42/484.36). If there is any skill that the home health aide cannot perform satisfactorily, he or she will be unable to carry it out independently until performance reaches the satisfactory level.

Training requirements for hospice aide/ homemaker are similar to those for home health aide. Hospice programs are to provide training in meeting the needs of hospice populations.

The CNA Pathway

Nursing assistant training is a viable pathway to home care. Virginia has set the minimum number of training hours for CNAs well above the minimum 75-hour federal standard, but has not increased the standard for HHAs. Some employers, notably, do advertise for employees with nurse aide training.

CNAs complete 120-hour programs. They apply to the Board of Nursing (https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/nursing/nursing_forms.htm). They go through a competency evaluation process through Pearson VUE.

Highly Rated Home Care Agencies in Virginia

Multiple organizations provide data to help people identify high-caliber home health agencies. Medicare Compare, an official federal website, includes survey-based and outcome-based ratings for certified home health agencies. The following Virginia home health agencies were awarded 4 1/2 or 5 stars in each of the two categories, according to data that appears on the website in 2017:

  • AMEDISYS Home Health Care — Abingdon
  • Southern Virginia Regional Home Health — Emporia
  • Home Nursing Services of Southwest VA Inc. — Abingdon

Individuals can click on the name of agencies that appear on the website and find more detailed information about surveys and patient outcomes (https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare).

Caring.com awarded four Virginia home care agencies 2017 ‘Caring Stars’ based on reviews posted on the site (https://www.caring.com/articles/caringstars2017-in-home-care):

  • LivHome — Arlington
  • Amaisa Home Care — Loudoun County
  • Home Instead Senior Care — Manassas
  • Home Instead Senior Care — Fredericksburg

Career Outlook and Average Home Health Aide Salary in Virginia

Virginia home health aide employment levels have been predicted to increase 46% between 2014 and 2024. Currently, the home health aide job classification represents a smaller portion of the direct care workforce than nursing assistant or personal care aide. All three professions are slated for significant increase; home health aide can be expected to increase the most percentage-wise.

Virginia home health aides made an average hourly wage of $10.88 an hour in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest reported wages were in Winchester ($12.17), followed by Charlottesville ($11.46).

SEIU Virginia 512 is an organization that is working to improve Virginia’s direct care workforce, in part by supporting policies that increase wages and help those at the frontlines get the benefits that foster their health and security. SEIU Virginia has a home care chapter (http://seiuva512.org/home-care).