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New Jersey May Create Advanced Role for Home Health Aides

February 3, 2016

New Jersey is considering a measure that would allow registered nurses to delegate certain tasks to home health aides.

The state Board of Nursing voted late last year to allow home health aides — known in New Jersey as certified homemaker-home health aides (CHHAs) — to perform an expanded range of services, which may include medication administration, glucose monitoring, and other tasks that previously were limited to RNs.

It is not clear whether the administration of Gov. Chris Christie (R) will approve the Board of Nursing’s proposal. (In an unrelated move, Christie on January 19 vetoed a bill that would have established a statewide minimum staffing level for certified nursing assistants.)

Writing for the website Newsworks, health reporter Taunya English noted that “if the proposed rule change isn’t approved in February, it may take several years to restart the process in New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Board of Nursing has voted to expand CHAAs’ role before, as recently as last year.

If approved, the measure would reduce hospitalization rates for elders and people with disabilities living in New Jersey, write Joel Cantor and Jennifer Farnham of Rutgers University.

“While not without its administrative challenges, the regulatory changes…have great potential to improve care delivery, reduce avoidable hospital costs, and improve the lives of thousands of some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents,” they write in an editorial published on the website NJSpotlight.

Cantor and Farnham helped to pilot a voluntary New Jersey program allowing nurses to delegate medication administration and other advanced care tasks to CHHAs. That program had “significant positive health and quality-of-life effects for consumers, with no evidence of adverse consequences,” they write.

At least nine states have enacted measures expanding the roles of home health aides. Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) reiterated his support for an advanced home health aide role during his State of the State address.

— by Matthew Ozga

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