October 6, 2018
Home Health Caregiver Credentials: Does a Caregiver Need to be Certified?
If you hire a home health agency to handle your home health care services, they will handle staffing and making sure your home health caregiver credentials are valid. While they do take care of this aspect for you, it can be helpful to have an understanding of what these caregiver credentials mean, and how it applies to your care. One question we get a lot is in regard to home health caregiver credentials: Does a caregiver need to be certified?
For purposes of this article we’ll be limiting the discussion to home health caregiver credentials in non-skilled home care. These caregivers are known by such titles as Personal Companions, Personal Care Attendants (PCAs), Home Health Assistants (HHAs) and Certified Nurse Aide (CNAs). Whereas in other states, normally an HHA is restricted to performing companionship and homemaker services only, in Colorado the terms HHA and CNA are used interchangeably.
Caregiver certification: what is it and why is it important?
Certification of home health aides is regulated by state regulatory agencies. In Colorado, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) Board of Nursing oversees the certification and regulation of Certified Nurses Aides (CNAs).
Caregiver certification is important for two key reasons:
- It is an indicator of the training a home health caregiver possesses. Not only has the caregiver participated in training, but the caregiver has passed a certification exam proving the depth and breadth of knowledge after the training. Certification is also an indicator of ongoing qualification. To maintain certification, the caregiver must take continuing education courses, according to Federal law.
- It’s required for services that qualify for Medicare payments. As discussed in in the article “How to Choose a Home Health Agency,” it’s a requirement for all Medicare certified home health agencies to hire certified home health aides for services that qualify for Medicare payments. To learn more about what types of care are Medicare-qualified, click here.
When is my caregiver not required to be certified?
Non-certified personal care attendants, homemakers, and home care aides are not required to be certified because their level of care is restricted to things that an ordinary person could effectively and efficiently accomplish without medical training. Non-certified caregivers are allowed to provide services such as light housekeeping, meal preparation and companionship; Direct medical care is not allowed by these types of caregivers, so certification is not required. Visit this link to learn more about the types of skilled and non-skilled home health caregivers.
If I’m not using an agency should I hire a certified caregiver?
When you hire a reputable home health agency, they will take care of making sure your caregivers are certified for the necessary level of care. However, if you are hiring a caregiver without an agency, here’s what’s helpful to know about certification. When you hire a certified caregiver in Colorado, you have the peace of mind of knowing that the caregiver has taken at least 80 hours of instruction and has passed a written and practical competency exam, including CPR certification.
There are many experienced home care aides that aren’t certified. Many are very good at what they do, which can involve light housework, meal prep and care that is not medical. However, when a level of care greater than companionship and light housework is needed, you will want a certified nurse aide (CNA) or home health aide. This is because the CNA must be skilled both in some medical procedures and also in making and noting observations of your condition for reporting to the licensed nursing professional, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).