Home health staff retention and onboarding

Home Health & Hospice Training

What are the Crucial Skills for Home Health and Hospice?


Your comprehensive guide to hiring and training skills for home health and hospice agencies


Home health and hospice staff are critical in meeting patients’ and their families’ complex medical demands. Furthermore, providing medical care and comfort in a patient’s home necessitates a distinct set of skills. Technical and interpersonal skills are required for home health and hospice care.

Several agencies are hiring new home care clinicians to sustain staffing in the face of a nursing shortage. These recruits must be trained quickly in the clinical and soft skills needed to provide confident, high-quality treatment.

Hiring and training with home health and hospice skills in mind can help providers get new hires in the field faster, minimize attrition, and boost satisfaction. With Home Health Value-Based Purchasing on its way, agencies will do well to examine these competencies, which will lead to improved outcomes and reimbursement. In this blog post, we delve into the abilities required for efficient home health and hospice care.

Why Agencies Should Consider Skills for Home Health and Hospice


According to a recent industry assessment, the home-based care staffing shortfall has reached crisis proportions. It can be tempting to resort to drastic means in difficult times. Agencies may hire workers based on the immediacy of their needs rather than the applicant’s merits. The research on the Home Care Workforce Crisis also acknowledged that hiring the incorrect person for the position might be costly for businesses. “The total cost to recruit one RN to home care can be similar to what a Fortune 500 company spends to fill a leadership role,” said Stephanie Johnson of Transcend Strategy Group.

Professionals who excel in other areas of healthcare may not be a good fit for home health or hospice. They might even find it more difficult. Travel time, last-minute on-call appointments, and pest-infested houses can be too much for some. Other healthcare providers may miss the camaraderie of a facility setting and find home visits lonesome.

Home health and hospice clinicians work autonomously in patients’ homes. They do not have teams of clinicians surrounding them like in other settings. They won’t have a second set of hands or eyes to rely on in unfamiliar or unexpected situations. They won’t find reference materials or a supervisor on-site during a home visit when they need a refresher. Home health and hospice professionals must be able to deliver care safely and competently, ensuring that each patient’s needs are addressed.

Agency owners and leaders must bear in mind that home health and hospice require a particular skill set. Considering these abilities when recruiting, hiring, training, and upskilling will result in higher caregiver retention and better patient care since you will be more likely to get the right people in place.


Skills For Home Health Nurses


Agency owners and managers should consider these home health nurse skills:

  • Time Management: Time management and the ability to prioritize duties are two of the most crucial abilities for a home care nurse.
  • Professionalism: Home health nurses must be able to take and follow directions confidently and professionally.
  • Recent Experience: Home care nurses must be comfortable delivering intravenous medications and knowledgeable about drugs used to treat common chronic diseases, so 1-2 years of hospital experience are desirable.
  • Knowledge: Home health and hospice personnel should also have an up-to-date understanding of infection control practices, wound care, and appropriate documentation.
  • Interpersonal Communication: Home health workers must have excellent interpersonal communication skills. They must connect with patients and families in a compassionate yet firm way. In addition, they’ll work with an interdisciplinary team. So, they have to work well with others.

Home health nurses must have diverse clinical abilities to offer great care to patients in their homes. They must be able to conduct an accurate assessment and develop a plan of care utilizing a home health care software system. Educating patients and their families about disease processes and therapies is part of this.

Nurses must also monitor therapy response, administer infusions, perform catheter and wound care, and provide emotional support. It is also important to be familiar with medical equipment and supplies. Good problem-solving skills are sine qua non since home health and hospice care personnel frequently deal with difficult situations and must find creative solutions.


Skills for Hospice Nurses


When it comes to hospice care, agency owners and managers should consider these hospice skills:

  • Compassion: Compassion and empathy are two of the most critical abilities for a hospice nurse. Understanding the patient’s and family’s needs and sentiments is paramount to giving the best care possible.
  • Communication: The ability to clearly express thoughts and ideas is key for customer service since they are responsible for communicating effectively with the patient, family, and other members of the care team.
  • Time Management: Hospice care providers must be able to manage their time to meet the patient’s needs.
  • Documentation: Accurate documentation is required for quality care. If your organization uses electronic documentation, the nurse must be technically savvy to fill notes, orders, and communications while giving treatment.

Furthermore, hospice care providers must often problem-solve to establish a patient-centered care plan. Patient advocacy is also required since hospice caregivers must guarantee the patient’s wishes are fulfilled. Finally, cultural competency is a vital ability for hospice care workers because they must be aware of the patient’s and family’s cultural influences and beliefs to offer care in a culturally sensitive manner.


Skills for Home Health Aides


Agency owners and managers should be hiring and training for these home health aide skills:

  • Empathy: Home health aides must demonstrate true empathy and care to their patients and families.
  • Professionalism: Since aides will be working with the interdisciplinary team, patients, and families, professionalism is particularly important.
  • Organizational Skills: Another necessary skill is organization, as home health aides must maintain patient data, vital signs, and other important information.

In addition to these abilities, home health aides must have physical strength and stamina to lift, turn, and move patients. They must also be competent to provide basic care services such as bathing, dressing, and assisting patients with everyday activities. Finally, home health aides must be capable of dealing with tough situations and resolving conflicts. Home health and hospice workers who master these skills can greatly contribute to the healthcare profession and the people they serve.


Why These Skills are Essential for High-Quality Home Health and Hospice Care


These skills are critical for providing outstanding home health and hospice care because they ensure patient care standards are met without overwhelming or exhausting your personnel. Medical knowledge helps healthcare providers deliver effective therapy. Yet, soft skills like compassion, communication, and patience foster an environment of empathy and understanding.

Similarly, being structured and detail-oriented allows for consistent, high-quality care tailored to each unique patient’s needs. In short, having the right personality and skill set to navigate and mitigate uncertain events is critical for providing your agency’s patients and their loved ones with a sense of security.


Do Home Health and Hospice Professionals Need Certification?


Any certification demonstrates a greater level of expertise, knowledge, and experience. Patients, families, doctors, and coworkers realize the importance of working with a specialty-certified expert. A certified nurse or aide has devoted time, effort, and money to obtain their certifications. That shows they take pride in their work and their ability to execute it properly. Among the available industry homecare certifications for those working in home health and hospice care are:

Home Health

  • COS-C (Certificate for OASIS Specialist-Clinical) – demonstrates understanding of CMS OASIS guidelines (visit)
  • HCS-O (Home Care Clinical Specialist – OASIS) demonstrates knowledge of home care assessments and documentation (visit)
  • WCC (Wound care certified) – requires 120 hours of hands-on clinical wound care training and exam to show proficiency in wound treatments (visit)
  • WCN-C (Wound Care Nurse Certified) – for RN or LPNs who complete advanced wound care and skills training, including wound vac, compression therapy, etc (visit)
  • CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist) – requires 1000 hours of diabetic education in the past four years (visit)
  • HCS-D (Home Care Coding Specialist – Diagnosis) shows competency in home health coding, which is different than medical coding for inpatient or other settings (visit)
  • CHCE (Certified Home Care Executive) – demonstrates the ability to administer a home health or hospice organization (visit)


  • HCS-H (Home Care Coding Specialist – Hospice) – demonstrates the knowledge needed to organize medical records and consult with other hospice professionals for accurate billing and coding (visit)
  • CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse) – shows competency for experienced hospice and palliative care nurses (visit)
  • CHPLN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse) – demonstrates competency in hospice care for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. (visit)
  • CHPNA (Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant) – demonstrates competency in hospice and palliative care for nurse aides. (visit)

Hiring certified individuals will help your company. Likewise, pushing staff to pursue certifications will help your agency in building strong homecare agency teams. Patients, referral sources, and the community will value the high-quality service that your personnel are prepared to give.


Training: How Can Agencies Develop These Skills for Home Health and Hospice Care Through Training?


Training and education can help agencies improve these skills. Organizations should prioritize staff training to keep clinicians current on the most recent best practices. Furthermore, home health and hospice agencies should implement policies and norms to support and promote home health and hospice staff.

Regular contact between staff workers and patients is also necessary for skill development. We can all learn from one another’s experiences. Every home health and hospice agency should prioritize encouraging communication among workers. Collaboration between home health and hospice care teams can boost efficiency and effectiveness. Utilizing technology can also streamline processes and provide better care. Ensure your agency has the best home health software to communicate safely and efficiently about patient care needs.


Online Resources to Improve Home Health and Hospice Care Skills


​​Clinicians have more opportunities to study and improve their professional abilities in the digital age. Indeed, the Home Care Workforce Crisis Industry Study 2023 recommends that firms make onboarding easier and faster by substituting virtual for in-person training as much as feasible. On-demand home health and hospice care courses are available on various online platforms. Courses cover everything from fundamentals like patient assessment to more specific subjects like chronic venous ulcer care. A few options for education and training in home care and hospice include Home Care Pulse (endorsed by the National Association of Home Care and Hospice), MedBridge, & Relias.

Ongoing training leads to better outcomes. Advanced training also improves job prospects. Staff who continue to learn and grow demonstrate commitment and expertise in this field.


Hiring: What Are the Most Important Home Health and Hospice Skills?


When interviewing for home health and hospice employment, focusing on interpersonal skills, clinical expertise, physical stamina, and passion for patient care is typical. However, there are a few more factors to consider. As patients may require urgent care or last-minute appointments, home health and hospice staff must be flexible with their schedules. Home health and hospice practitioners must also be able to work alone and with little supervision. Considering that in-home staff are often the only ones present in a patient’s home, look for a proven track record of accountability.

Furthermore, because they may need to manage numerous duties at once, home health and hospice caregivers must be able to multitask. They should also be familiar with industry requirements and regulations. Experience working with seniors is another plus.


The Take Away


The expanding home health and hospice sector relies on highly skilled healthcare providers. Time management, empathy, excellent communication, medical knowledge, adaptability, and organization are all necessary qualities. Staff with these skills increase quality, satisfaction, results, and payment. Now that you know what’s required, take these actionable steps.

  • Revise your pre-screen and interview questions to include examples of applicants’ home health and hospice skills.
  • Customize your pre-hire process to find applicants who will thrive in your business.
  • Continue to coach new hires post-training. Help them develop the skills they need to succeed in their new role.

With the right mix of skills and knowledge, staff can deliver superior home health and hospice services. As a result, you’ll see better patient outcomes and overall service quality in your agency.



Haddad, L.M., Annamaraju, P., Toney-Butler, T.J. (2023). Nursing Shortage. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493175/

Home Care Association of America (2023). The Homecare Workforce Crisis. https://www.hcaoa.org/uploads/1/3/3/0/133041104/workforce_report_and_call_to_action_final_03272023.pdf

Nursing shortages data

Workforce report & industry assessment

substituting virtual for in-person training


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