Differences between a CNA and a Home Health Aide

On the surface, the differences between CNA work and Home Health Aide work may not be immediately apparent, upon closer inspection, the lines begin to become more defined.  In some cases a home health agency will use only CNA’s as HHA’s because they can do more by law, when required.  Depending on the facility or the employment situation, CNA’s can be used to fill the gap between home health aide and nurse.  Home Health Aides fill the gap in smaller areas, as the title implies, the home health aide is a person that aides in the daily living of another person and aides in keeping said person safe, clean and somewhat organized.

HHA’s Responsibilities: Home health aides can be responsible for light housekeeping, bathing, cooking, and running errands as well as companionship. It is not uncommon for a home health aide to sit for an hour with nothing to do while her/his charge naps.  A person seeking employment as a HHA can find it easy enough.  All places that employ the home health aide, provide training and the only certification required is the CPR , as well as other classes the employer deems fit for the HHA.    HHA’s can be subject to the same laws as the CNA regarding patient rights, care and HIPPA laws, when the care and well-being of another human being is involved it is important to have the right tools for the job.

CNA Responsibilities: In some western states like Wyoming, Utah and parts of Colorado, Home Health Agencies use CNA’s in home health care to bridge some of the gap between HHA’s and the nurse.  If an HHA is involved they are usually partnered with a CNA for learning and training at the same time they are taking classes for CNA certification.  CNA’s can take vital signs, change dressings, and works with range of motion exercises for the more infirmed clients.  Often times a CNA’s role in the Home Health field will include the duties of the home health aide as well as the more technical aspects of the job.

What do the CNA and HHA have in common? They both have to have pretty much the same training.  They have to know how to bathe a client, they have to know how to chart or narrate in the clients records.  They have to know how to make the client comfortable, how to turn them and when to turn them. They have to know the steps they need to take in every situation that may arise and they both have to obey HIPPA laws.   They both pretty much do the same job, one with slightly more responsibility than the other.  In some states, HHA’s have to have professional training and they are both required to pass a criminal back ground check.  In other states, a home health aide need only pass a background check.  Check with local state laws.  Both CNA’s and HHA’s are required to have CPR certification, which is usually done at the employer’s expense.  Both have the opportunity to further their education, if they desire to do so, and advance into nursing.

The pay rate between the two varies, the more experience an HHA has the more they can expect in wages, however the CNA will have a slight advantage with the certification and state exams under their belt.  HHA’s have the advantage in the private sector as far as employment goes, where there is no need for medical fulfillment as all of that is already taken care of by the primary care giver.

Being a home health aide is a great way to work one’s way into the medical professional and gives a clearer picture of the time and care it takes to care for another human being.  Some HHA’s find the career so fulfilling they chose not to move on; others climb the ladder and go for the nursing degrees.  Either way it is a win win situation for the dedicated HHA and CNA who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

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