Home health aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or who are simply older adults, who may need assistance with everyday tasks. Home health aides provide this help in the home of the patient, instead of in a health facility or institution. These everyday tasks, often called ‘activities of daily living’ (ADL), include bathing, dressing, transferring (getting out of bed), using the toilet, eating, and walking. Home health aides also assist patients with additional tasks, called ‘instrumental activities of daily living’ (IADL), which include light housework, preparing meals, taking medications, shopping for groceries or clothes, using the telephone, and managing money.
How are Home Health Aides different from other Home Aides?
Home health aides can be known by a number of different names, which can make things somewhat confusing. Alternative titles that describe similar roles to a home health aide include
- Home aide
- Personal care aide
- Home caregiver
- Certified nursing assistant
- Patent care technician
- Residential assistant
- Home attendants
Typically, home health aides have similar job duties to these other jobs. However, for home health aides there can be some small, but important differences. Home health aides often provide basic health-related services, which most of these other jobs do not. These health related activities include:
- Checking patients' pulse rate, temperature, and respiration rate
- Maintaining records of patient care, condition, progress, or problems
- Assisting with simple prescribed exercises
- Assisting with medications administration
- Changing simple dressings
- Giving massages
- Providing skin care
- Assisting with braces and artificial limbs
- With additional training, home health aides also assist with medical equipment such as ventilators
What are the requirements to be a Home Health Aide?
A high school diploma, or any other formal education, is not required to be a home health aide. It is helpful for an individual to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Home health aides must have formal training and pass a competency test that meets Federal Government guidelines in order to work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid. The majority of home health aide care in the United States is provided by these types of agencies. Additional training requirements vary from State to State. A Home Health Aide may seek voluntary certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Licensing as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is required by some states.
What are the employment prospects for Home Health Aides?
Job opportunities as a home health aide are very good, and are expected to be excellent in the future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisics projects employment of home health aides to grow by 50% between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average. This fantastic growth in employment opportunities is due to an increase in the number of elderly people, a group who have increased health problems and require the daily assistance home health aides provide. Average hourly wages of home health aides were $9.84 in May 2008. Average hourly wages range between $7.65 and more than $13.93 an hour.