What are the Differences Between Home Health Aides (HHA) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA)?

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If you have elderly loved ones who are in need of assistance, there are many things to consider. You may wonder what kind of help they need and how much help they require. You may know that you want to get your aging relative a home care aide, but you might be unsure which home aide is best suited for him/her: a home health aide (HHA) or a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

While home health aides and certified nursing assistants perform some of the same tasks and have similar responsibilities, their roles are not quite the same.

Home Health Aides

The main purpose of a home health aide is to provide clients with personal care and they usually work at the patient’s home. This means HHAs will assist with everyday tasks: bathing, grooming, restroom use, getting dressed, meal preparation, transportation, laundry, light housekeeping, running errands, and more.

With the training they’ve received, HHAs are great helpers and companions to seniors. But HHAs have limited medical training. That said, they rarely provide their clients with medical assistance, cannot provide nursing care, and do not offer medical advice. However, HHAs will monitor their clients’ condition and remind them to take their medication.

Depending on the state you’re in, HHAs need to be certified, which comes after completing the correct courses at a college or vocational school. HHAs can receive national certification from the National Association of Home Care and Hospice, but they do not need to have a college degree or a high school diploma.

Certified Nursing Assistants

CNAs have the same personal training as a home health aide does, so they can assist clients with many of the same tasks that home health aides do, such as eating and hygiene care. In addition to providing direct care, they can also help clients switch positions in bed for comfort and assist them from their wheelchairs to their beds and vice versa.

CNAs work in a wide variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and more. But they also have additional medical training and work under the supervision of either a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a licensed vocational nurse (LVA), or a registered nurse (RN).

With this medical training, CNAs will monitor patients’ health, take vitals, track their symptoms, and can speak with clients about health concerns. Furthermore, they will report their findings to their supervising nurse.

To become a CNA, one has to receive proper training from a certified program — which is offered by community colleges, hospitals, and online programs among others — and then pass a competency exam. The exam consists of a written exam and a practical exam. After receiving a CNA license, one can keep the license active by doing 48 hours of continuing education every two years.


When deciding whether your elderly loved one requires a home health aide or a certified nursing assistant, consider their needs and what kind of assistance he/she would benefit from the most. If you determine that an elderly relative could use everyday, non-medical assistance, then hiring a home health aide is a good choice.

At Assisting Hands Serving Miami Beach, FL, we offer a variety of senior care services in which we provide clients with a home health aide for anything they need. We have home health aides who can provide part-time help or full-time help, live-in care or 24-hour care, and more. At Assisting Hands, we will work with clients and their families to develop a care plan customized to your elderly loved one’s needs.