Importance of Ongoing Education, Training in Home Care and Hospice

Home care and hospice employees provide hands-on care and personal assistance to clients with health issues, daily living needs or other chronic conditions. They are employed by home care agencies and include Registered nurses (RNs), LNAs, CNAs, physical therapists, home health aides (HHAs) and sitter/companions. These caregivers work in patients’ homes and in community-based service centers such as VNAs and adult day care facilities. Job duties for homecare employees, depending on their training, can range from helping patients with activities of daily living such as meals, bathing, dressing, and housekeeping, to performing more medical/clinical tasks such as medication administration, wound care, blood pressure readings and range of motion exercises.

Home health aides (HHAs) are not required to have a college degree or high school diploma.  In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies. HHAs who work for agencies funded by Medicare or Medicaid, however, must meet minimum standards of training. These standards include 75 hours of training, in addition to 16 hours of supervised practical work, plus passing a competency evaluation or state certification program. Additional requirements for certification vary by state. For example, California requires 120 hours of minimum training and 20 hours of minimum clinical training. For more information on individual state requirements, click here.

As with many other employees (nurses, physicians) in the healthcare industry, it’s also important that an ongoing education and training program is in place for home health care aides. This will help ensure the continued quality of patient care and safety, accident prevention and care management, and regulatory compliance. Continuing education courses, tools, and other resources are available from various sources to help health care organizations and their employees make care safer to both administer and receive.

Some of the available courses for HHAs and personal/home care aides, for example, include training on managing weak, frail and/or elderly patients; caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia; coping with mobility challenges; and respite for family members; among others. Employers can ensure that their workers are cognizant of the newest methods and techniques in their fields when a formal training program is in place.

Home health care agencies should also routinely provide “refresher” training on their policies and procedures with seasoned employees in addition to their on-boarding protocol for new hires.

Ongoing training and education should be part of a home health care firm’s risk management program, to also help prevent on-the-job injuries and illnesses and reduce Workers’ Compensation claims. Because home health care employees have little control over their work environment the job comes with a number of safety and health hazards. (Home inspections should, therefore, be conducted before placing workers on an assignment.) These hazards include exposure to blood-borne pathogens and biological hazards, latex sensitivity, ergonomic hazards from patient lifting, violence, hostile animals and even unhygienic and dangerous conditions. In addition, if their daily work schedule requires them to provide care for multiple patients, these workers face hazards on the road as they drive from home to home. Providing ongoing safety training will serve to remind employees of the exposures they face and the precautionary measures and procedures to take to help reduce workplace incidents. An ongoing safety-training program also reinforces the home health agency’s commitment to keeping workers safe.

Ongoing employee education and training benefits a home health care provider in many ways: They help attract individuals looking to work for an organization dedicated to patient care and worker safety as well as provide employees with an opportunity to learn and advance. The reputation of the provider is enhanced in the community and among family members when patient care is supported by a well-trained staff. Furthermore, continuous employee education and training is a strong indicator to an insurance carrier underwriting a risk of the home health care agency’s commitment to reducing exposures in both patient care and workplace safety.

About Manchester Specialty

Manchester Specialty provides end-to-end insurance solutions to home health care providers. Our programs include Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Management Liability, and Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance, among other key coverages. For more information about our business and insurance lines, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.