What You Should Know About Washington Home Health Care

In Washington, home health is highly regulated by the Washington State Department of Health.

Home health agencies must be licensed by the state. Laws pertaining to home care agencies are in Chapter 246-335 WAC and Chapter 70.127 RCW.

To become a home health aide, you must pass the state’s training requirements and receive certification. The laws governing home care aide can be found in RCW 18.88B and WAC 246-980.

How to Become a Home Health Aide in Washington

Training and Qualifications
As of January 7, 2012, Washington home health aides working for an agency or providing independent services must meet the following requirements:

  • Fingerprints and background check (both state and federal)
  • 2 hours of orientation and 3 hours of safety training prior to providing patient care
  • 70 hours of basic training must be completed within 120 days (instructors must be approved by DSHS)
  • Must receive home health aide certification within 150 days of being hired
  • 12 hours of continuing education completed each year in order to receive certification renewal (the renewal date is tied to the individual’s birthday)

The DSHS has put together a comprehensive slide deck that outlines and explains the training requirements for home health aides. For more information on approved training courses and to download raining forms, visit the DSHS web site’s Training Requirements & Classes.

Find Home Health Aide Jobs
If you’re looking for a career as a home health aide, the following sites can assist with finding opportunities across Washington:

Finding a Home Health Aide in Washington

Before you begin your search, have a clear idea of the types of services you’re looking for, how you will be paying, and whether you want to use an agency or independent provider. Below are the best ways to go about finding a home health aide.

Department of Social and Health Services. The DSHS provides a list of who to contact to find home health services based on your needs. This is a good jumping off point for assessing your options and where to look for home health providers.

Online Directories. Many of these  allow you to narrow down your search based on your region, payment methods, and services provided. Below are some of the most useful directories for the Washington area:

Yellow Pages. Look under “Nurse Registries”, “Aging” or “Senior Services” to find home health providers.

Ask for recommendations. Seek the advice of your physician, family and friends. Getting home health care recommendations from a trusted source can help assure you’re making the right choice.

Run an ad in the newspaper. Consider using the classified sections to post a job ad that specifies your exact needs.

Choosing a Washington Home Health Aide

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few providers, it’s time to begin the screening process. Start by preparing a job description of what you will require of your home health aide and any qualifications you’d like in addition to what is required by the state.

In addition to finding someone with the right personality to match with your loved one, you’ll want find out if the agency or individual is following federal regulations. Below are some some sample questions to use in your interviews:

Interview Questions for a Home Health Agency

  • Are you licensed? (state licensure is required for Washington home health agencies)
  • Do your home health aides undergo background checks? (both state and federal checks are required)
  • Are you Medicare certified? (this means the agency meets the conditions of participation for Medicare certification.
  • Is your agency accredited? (if yes, ask to see their most recent survey from the accrediting body)
  • What qualifications do you require of your home health aides? (At the minimum, make sure home health aides undergo the training required by the state, as outlined at the top of this article)
  • Will the same home health aide be assigned each day? How will substitutes be chosen if the assigned aide is unavailable?

Interview Questions for Independent Home Health Aides

  • Can you provide proof that you’re a certified home health aide? (certification is required by the state)
  • When does your certification need to be renewed? Have you completed your ongoing education requirements for this year yet? (both required by the state)
  • What services do you provide? (make sure these match your needs)

Washington HHA Regulating Agencies and Resources

The information in this article was gathered from the below resources, which may be of further interest:

Photo Credit by TheArches