When trying to find home health care help or hospice care for a loved one, a common question asked by many residents of Dubuque and elsewhere is “what kind of training have they had?”
This isn’t an idle small talk question – since this type of care can be so new to some families, it’s important that they make sure that those close to them receive quality care. This means home health care agencies need to assure them of the experience and training of their people, especially with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice are used to these questions from clients or their loved ones, and we’re happy to answer them.
While we may not bring our diplomas or resumes along to show off to anyone who asks about our professional backgrounds, we are proud to share a summary of what we’ve done and seen when asked, as well as what types of courses we’ve studied and any state or local certifications or licenses.
Some of these positions depend on the type of job and what rules are currently in place. These are often designed with a client-first commitment to make sure that proper care is provided, as well as prevent someone claiming to have certain skills who may be fraudulent and who instead can cause harm due to negligence or deception.
Our team is also proud to have a good blend of experience and academic success. Delivering this type of care can be challenging, even to people who have academic degrees in nursing, so the knowledge gained from helping clients and their families through a difficult time emotionally, mentally, and physically, at the same time, having a foundation of nursing principles and concepts is useful.
Some type of nursing credentials is required by Iowa for most positions that involve directly visiting a client’s home. Within the general group of nurses, there are several different designations based on knowledge received as well as the completion of certain certifications.
Additionally, some companies may require continuing education, where the person continues to take occasional classes to stay current in the industry. For instance, some who received their nursing degrees 10 or 20 years ago are still required to take classes and seminars regularly to learn relevant new techniques and principles.
- A registered nurse typically requires completing a four-year degree bachelor’s program at an accredited college or university. This can cover academic courses such as anatomy and physiology as well as other skills like leadership. Students also often receive on-the-job experience by spending time at a community medical center or clinic. To receive this designation, they also must take a national license exam.
At a home health level, RNs can help clients with a variety of needs, including wound care and advanced techniques. Iowa requires that RNs receive at least 120 hours of clinical experience as well as 36 hours of continuing education to renew their license.
- A certified nursing assistant requires a two-year associate degree from a nursing program. It covers many of the same foundational courses, but an RN program includes several more semesters. Some people prefer earning this so they can go out in the workforce and start helping people and make money right away, rather than stay in school longer. A CNA candidate also must take a national exam to receive this designation. In a home health environment, CNAs can perform many basic tasks to help clients such as basic wound care and blood draws/IV insertion, but RNs may be needed for more advanced procedures. Iowa generally requires at least 75 training hours as well as 30 clinical hours.
- Home Health Aide. This is considered a position that doesn’t have a formal designation but can help with basic tasks, everything from running errands to light housework to bathing, dressing, and grooming. This may be a good introduction to home health care for people who might want to consider a nursing or medical career, or for someone to work at in order to earn money or complete pre-requisite credits before entering a nursing program. They may accompany an RN or CNA on client home visits.
- Various therapists. We also provide access to a variety of therapists who have received specialized training to help clients in other ways, including massage therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. These programs have their own academic requirements and degrees/licensing.
Along with general nursing education, people who want to work in the home health care field are encouraged to learn about current issues or conditions that they might have to deal with, such as palliative and hospice care as well as different types of dementia.
The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners has declared Feb. 14-21 Alzheimer’s and Dementia Staff Education Week and encourages nursing companies and agencies to spend extra time focusing on this progressive form of dementia. The council also offers a toolkit of basic learning methods and can provide a CDP, or Certified Dementia Practitioner designation, for those who successfully complete at least eight hours of dementia education.