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DOH Provides Details on HHA/PCA Hybrid Training Program and Other Home Care Issues

LeadingAge NY met recently with Department of Health (DOH) representatives to learn more about the application process for Home Health Aide (HHA) and Personal Care Aide (PCA) hybrid training programs allowed under State guidance released last fall. Only three programs have been granted thus far. Four more applications are on hold, and 12 have been denied. LeadingAge NY, along with the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) and the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP), met with DOH to inquire about the slow approval process and the need to develop and reengage aide training programs shut down during COVID-19.

The Department communicated applicants' need to strengthen their policies and procedures for their proposed hybrid training program applications, not rely on their traditional policies. There has also been much back and forth between DOH and applicants on the security of their online training systems and the verification process of trainees. DOH plans to issue more detail in guidance around these issues to help improve applications and the review process. Applicants should note that the application process also includes review of recent surveys, criminal history record checks compliance, and history of the applicant. The Department encourages applicants to engage administrators in training program development and application processes, not solely rely on nurse educators for this purpose. DOH also indicated that it will place another staff person on the application review process to speed up the approval process.

Associations advocated to DOH for the following: 

  • Additional guidance on required policies and procedures, as this is one area that many applicants were asked to supplement. 
  • Revise its hybrid training program policy so that entities with approved HHA Training Programs, but no approved PCA Training Programs, can submit applications for hybrid PCA Training Programs.
  • Allow entities with existing approved PCA (in-person) Training Programs to submit applications for hybrid PCA Training Programs if their program has not received at least one reapproval after three years of operation.
  • Permit students to make up classes by utilizing a video or recording of the class instead of requiring the nurse instructor to conduct a separate virtual make-up class for that student.

The meeting touched on several other issues as well. DOH will be looking at loosening some of the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting requirements for Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHAs) and Hospice. We will be providing DOH with our suggestions. They have indicated that they will remove some questions but will still require reporting three times a week.

The Department reiterated their recent comments to LeadingAge NY about the stalled application process for Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LHCSAs). More information on that is available here. DOH will also be seeking information from agencies soon about their rosters and if they have policies in place to reinstate or terminate workers who are still inactive due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members are encouraged to send us input as we advocate for reduced HERDS reporting. Please feel free to contact us with questions or concerns regarding the issues presented above.

Contact: Meg Everett, meverett@leadingageny.org, 518-929-9342