A home health aide provides clients with basic health-related services such as checking their blood pressure and giving them prescribed medicines on time. You will also organize and arrange transportation to doctor’s clinics and other appointments. You will also be asked to assist them in such tasks as bathing or dressing up if they need it. Preparing meals, providing companionship and doing light housekeeping tasks will also be part of your job.
You must naturally be compassionate and kind to succeed as a home health aide. Keep in mind that the clients you will be caring for will be in some form of physical pain or difficulty. As such, you need to empathize and be sensitive to their needs. You also need to be physically fit since part of your work will be lifting and turning clients who can’t move by on their own. Having a cheerful disposition and time-management skills will help you become the best companion and caregiver for your client.
Why Become A Home Health Aide
One reason to become a home health aide is the satisfaction you can get from providing first-hand care and companionship to ailing patients. The pay is definitely not an incentive to pursue this career as it’s not at all lucrative. However, it does allow those who are interested to embark on a healthcare career without the extensive technical training that usually accompanies other professions in this industry.
Home Health Aide Work Environment
Home health aides work in client’s homes, group homes and care communities. Depending on the arrangement, an aide may work with several or only one client in a single day. If they attend to various clients in a day, they usually need to arrange their schedules with other aides to ensure that the patient will always have someone to care for him or her.
Home health aides may also work for hospices and day services programs. Because they often assist elderly clients who cannot move by themselves or work with those who are cognitively and mentally challenged who may become aggressive and violent, they often experience a higher rate of injuries and illnesses compared to the national average.
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of home health aides is $22,050. This is a bit lower to the $26,990 received by psychiatric aides and the $26,020 received by nursing assistants.
Home Health Aide Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a rosy job outlook for home health aides. For the 2012 to 2022 period, the employment rate of home health aides is expected to surge 48 percent, a rate that is much faster than the average for all job types. The demand will come from the growth of the elderly population who will need companionship and help with the activities of daily living.
More home health aides will also be hired because their service enables clients to decrease their hospital or nursing facility expenses when they get the care they need in their homes.
Home Health Aide Degree
No formal educational requirement is needed for entry into this profession but majority of the aides possess at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Vocational schools and community colleges offer formal education programs for this career as well. Home health aides who are employed with agencies that get reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid need to get trained and pass a competency evaluation so they can get certified. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice provides certification for home health aides. In order to get certified, the aspiring home health aide must get 75 hours of training, observation and documentation of 17 skills showing that they are competent. They must also pass a written test.
Note: Certification is not mandatory but this increases one’s chances of getting hired as employers prefer to engage the services of those who are certified.