Caregiving certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s a rewarding and fulfilling career when you’re passionate about helping others. 

If you are pursuing a career as a caregiver or already working as one, becoming certified can help you provide the best care possible to your clients and significantly broaden your career possibilities. 

But getting certified isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. You probably have questions like “Which certification is right for me?” and “Where can I get a caregiver certification?” In this post, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.

What Does a Caregiver Do?

A caregiver is someone who looks after others. They assist with various daily activities. The title could refer to a family member caring for a loved one or an elderly relative, but more commonly, it refers to a professional caregiver. 

Professional caregivers help provide care for the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and those recovering from serious illnesses or injuries. They may work in healthcare facilities, hospitals, and residential homes to provide in-home care for patients. 

Understanding the Types of Caregiver Roles

There are different caregiver roles, largely depending on the type of care and where it’s performed. Below are the three most common types of in-home caregivers.

1. Home Health Aide

Home health aides provide in-home care for people with serious injuries or illnesses or those who are recovering from surgery. The type of care they offer is usually temporary. It finishes when a patient regains their independence.

Home health aides assist with:

  • Activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming)
  • Personal care
  • Light housekeeping tasks (such as laundry, cooking, and light cleaning)
  • Activities of daily thriving (such as running errands, grocery shopping, or picking up medications)
  • Monitoring the health of clients to report back to their care team
  • Reminding clients to take their medication at the correct times and document it

To become a home health aide in Oklahoma, you’ll need a Home Health Caregiving Certification from a medical training institute and a CPR certification.

2. Personal Care Aide

Home health aides usually offer temporary care and work alongside medical professionals to monitor a client’s health. Personal care aides offer more ongoing non-medical care for clients in their homes. This type of caregiver often works with the elderly or those with chronic illnesses.

Personal caregivers assist with:

  • Daily personal tasks, such as dressing and bathing
  • Grocery shopping for clients and preparing healthy meals
  • Activities of daily thriving
  • Light housekeeping
  • Errands, such as picking up prescriptions
  • Driving clients to appointments and other locations

To become a personal care provider, experience is beneficial, and certifications may be required.

3. Hospice Care Aide

Hospice caregivers offer end-of-life care to patients. Their focus is maximizing quality of life and providing physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort. A

Hospice care providers assist with:

  • Companionship, emotional support, and spiritual care
  • Coordinating services with the hospice interdisciplinary team
  • Personal care needs and errands

To become a hospice care provider, you must have a CHHA certification. If you want to be a hospice nurse, you’ll need an LPN or RN license.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Caregiver

Certification requirements vary greatly depending on your state, the type of caregiver you are, and even your specific employer. But no matter where you work, becoming certified can have a huge range of benefits for you and your patients.

Benefits of being a certified caregiver include:

  • Increased Job Opportunities. Many jobs require or prefer caregivers to have professional certifications. Becoming certified will greatly enhance your resume and increase the caregiving jobs available to you.
  • Higher Pay. On average, certified caregivers earn more than their non-certified counterparts.
  • Improved Quality of Care. Extra training will improve your skills and expand your knowledge base, helping you provide better care for your patients.  
  • Professional Recognition. Becoming certified will boost your credibility as a professional caregiver.

Types of Caregiver Certifications

So, which caregiving certification is right for you? Below are the types of caregiving certifications you may want to consider.

Basic Caregiver Certification

The exact certification requirements for becoming a caregiver are state specific. Some states don’t require any certifications to work in non-medical personal care. Others require at least some basic training.

In Oklahoma, the Professional Association of Caregivers recommends an eight-hour certification course to work as an in-home personal care aid.

Many schools and caregiver organizations offer basic training courses and certifications for those just starting out in their career. 

Most caregiver training courses take 5 to 12 hours and can be done online. These courses teach you the basics of caregiving. Modules often include job responsibilities, basic hygiene, personal and environmental safety, simple first aid, and emergency procedures.

After gaining a basic qualification, you can then look at becoming a CHHA or CNA to advance your career.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) 

Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) allows you to work in a hospital, health care facility, or clients’ homes. 

To be eligible to become a CNA in the U.S., you’ll need to complete a CNA program, take a certification exam, and apply for your license.

Specific requirements for gaining a CNA certification are state-specific. You can find more information about your state’s requirements here.

In Oklahoma, your CNA certification requires 75 hours of clinical and classroom-based training. You’ll need to pass a certification exam that tests your nursing knowledge and skills through theoretical and practical exams.

Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA) 

A Certified Home Health Aid meets all of the same qualifications as a CNA, but they complete an additional 16 hours of training that allows them to serve in a home health or hospice setting. 

Home health and hospice companies can only hire caregivers with this additional certification. Most private agencies also prefer CHHAs, although exact requirements vary significantly between states and even employers.

To become a CHHA, you must complete a 75-hour training program. The program must include at least 16 hours of classroom instruction and 16 hours of practical training. You’ll then need to pass a competency and skills evaluation exam. 

You’ll also need CPR training to work as a CHHA in Oklahoma.

Specialized Caregiver Certification

Once you’ve gained your standard caregiving certifications, you can also take more specific courses. These courses enhance certain skills and move down a specialized career path.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) offers dedicated training courses and certifications for end-of-life care professionals.

When working with the elderly, you may also consider getting your Dementia Care Certification or Diabetes Care Certification.

Where Can I Get a Caregiver Certification?

Now that you know which certifications are available, your next question may be, “Where can I get a caregiver certification?” There are multiple ways to receive this training.

Online Training Programs

A wide variety of online training programs are available for obtaining your caregiver certifications. The best online program for you will largely depend on your state and the type of caregiver you are.

Online training programs include:

In Oklahoma, CNA and CHHAs are required to attend a physical school and can’t obtain their license online without classroom and clinical hours.

In-Person Programs 

You may also consider taking an in-person program through a local university or technical vocational school. Research schools in your area and make sure your state health department accredits the caregiving course they offer.

Nursing Facilities or Long-Term Care Facilities

Some nursing and care facilities may offer on-the-job certification training to employees. Training is usually performed by Certified Nurses (CNs) within the facility. You’ll still need to complete a certification exam at the end of your training. 

When applying for caregiving jobs, it’s worth asking what type of training and certifications your employer can offer you.

How to Decide What Certification is Right for You

Still unsure which certification is right for you? There are factors to consider when making your decision.

When deciding on a certification, consider:

  • Accreditation. To gain certification as a caregiver, your state health department must certify your training course. Ensure you check accreditation in the state you wish to work in.
  • Advice from Trusted Advisors. You can also talk to existing caregivers and experts in the field. The Caregiver Action Network has a Caregiver Help Desk where you can talk to an expert for free.  
  • Course Plans. Take a look through the course plan and make sure the modules look interesting and relevant to you.
  • Your Goals. You should also consider where you would like to work, your long-term career goals, and any specialties you wish to take. Does the certification help you meet your end goals?
  • Time and Cost. Can you afford the price and time commitment of the training you want to do?

Contact Providence Health Care

At Providence Health Care, we’re an Oklahoma-based home care provider committed to serving our caregivers, so they can serve our clients to the best of their ability. We provide training and resources to support your professional growth and career development.
Contact us today to discuss career opportunities at Providence.

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