July 15, 2024

Career Profile of a Home Health Aide

Personal care and home health aides help people with chronic or severe disabilities with their daily living activities and monitor their condition. Many older adults need their assistance. Home health aides can be authorized to administer medication to clients or check their vital signs under the supervision of a nurse, doctor or another healthcare professional.

Duties

These are the most common tasks of home health and personal care aides:

  • Assist clients with their daily tasks, such as dressing or bathing.
  • Do housekeeping chores like washing dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry.
  • Assist clients in organizing their schedules and planning appointments
  • Arrange transport to doctor’s offices or other outings
  • Prepare meals and shop for groceries to satisfy a client’s dietary requirements
  • Keep clients involved in their social networks.

Home Health Aids can provide essential health-related services, such as checking the client’s pulse rate, temperature, and respiration rate, depending on where they work. They may also assist with prescribed exercises or with administering medications. They may also change dressings or bandages, provide skin care, and assist with braces or artificial limbs. Experienced home health aides can also help clients with breathing problems using ventilators or other medical equipment.

Nurses usually supervise the home health aides and may work with therapists or other medical staff. The aides maintain records about the client’s progress, including information on services received and their condition. They notify a supervisor or case manager of client condition changes.

Personal care assistants, also known as caregivers or personal attendants, are usually limited to providing non-medical services such as companionship, cleaning, and cooking. These aides can help people with intellectual or developmental disabilities create a behaviour plan or teach self-care skills like washing laundry and cooking.

Work Environment

In 2021, home health and personal care assistants had 3.6 million jobs. These were the top employers of personal and home care aides:

Services for individuals and families 47%

Home healthcare services 24

Residential facilities for intellectual and developmental disabilities 7

Senior assisted living and continuing care communities for the elderly 7

Many home health and personal care assistants work in the homes of clients. Others work in care communities or group homes. Some aides only work with one client, while others work with multiple clients. Sometimes they stay with one client long-term or for a particular purpose, such as hospice care. Sometimes they work in tandem with other aides to ensure that the client always has an aide.

Asides can travel to assist people with disabilities in helping them get work done and remain involved in their communities.

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Injuries and Illnesses

The work of a personal or home care aide can be both physically and emotionally taxing. Aides must use correct lifting techniques to avoid back injuries because they are often required to move clients in and out of beds or assist with standing or walking.

Aides may also work with clients with cognitive impairments, mental health issues, and people who display violent or challenging behaviour. Minor infections and exposures to infectious diseases can also pose a risk for aides. However, proper procedures can reduce the chance of them getting infected.

Work schedules

While most aides work full-time, it is common for them to work part-time. Dependent on the client’s needs, they may work weekends and evenings. Work schedules may vary.

Education and Training

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for personal and home health aides. However, some positions don’t need this. Certified home health and hospice workers must have completed formal training and pass a standardized exam.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for home health and personal care aides. However, some positions don’t need formal education credentials. Community colleges and vocational schools offer non-degree postsecondary programs.

Training

Personal care and home health aides might be trained in cooking, cleaning, and other housekeeping tasks. Basic safety skills, such as how to respond in an emergency, may be taught to aides. Specific training may be required if state certification is needed.

You can either learn on the job or via programs. The training includes essential nutrition, personal hygiene, vital signs, infection control and reading and recording vitals.

Individual clients might have different preferences than others. This is why aides may need to spend more time learning about them.

Registers, Certifications, Licenses

Individual state requirements may apply to home health and personal care aides. Some states require home care aides to be licensed or certified. This may include passing a competency exam and passing a background check. Check with your state’s board of health for more information.

Federally funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid require certified home health or hospice agencies to comply with regulations regarding the employment of aides. There may be other requirements for private care agencies that don’t receive federal funding.

Additionally, aides may need to be certified in CPR and first aid.

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