Home Health Aide Job Description
Home health aides install and maintain in-home medical equipment, provide basic care to patients, and perform tasks around the house to help patients with their daily needs. Medical facilities, nursing homes, hospices, and individual patients and their families hire home health aides to work in facilities and at patient homes, where they perform their tasks independently with little to no supervision. Home health aides work full- and part-time shifts during daytime and evening hours, including weekends, and must be available to work on-call during emergencies. Home health aides often travel to customer homes to perform their job tasks and must have their own reliable transportation.
Home Health Aide Duties and Responsibilities
Home health aides perform many different tasks based on the patients they care for and where they administer care. However, these core duties are the same in most environments:
Home health aides assist patients with daily self-care activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and personal grooming. This often includes preparing meals that meet any special dietary concerns and performing general housekeeping and cleaning duties, such as washing dishes and doing laundry.
Home health aides tell customers how to operate their medical equipment and give demonstrations on using the various functions. They also educate patients and immediate family members on how patients can care for themselves and receive care from others.
Observe and Assess Patients
Home health aides take vital signs, observe behavior and condition, and perform medical evaluations, noting any observations or assessments in patient charts.
Home health aides dress and redress wounds after surgeries and other medical procedures.
Home health aides give patients prescribed medication.
Home health aides collaborate with other members of the care team to ensure each patient’s ongoing progress.
Home health aides take patients to and from doctors’ appointments.
Home health aides observe and maintain patient confidentiality in accordance with state and federal healthcare laws.
If patients experience a medical crisis or complication, home health aides immediately alert the primary care physician and the hiring company to inform them of the situation and get advice on how to take further action.
Home Health Aide Skills and Qualifications
Home health aides are caring individuals with strong communication skills and keen eyes for detail who are sympathetic even when patients are at their worst. Employers hire candidates who display the following essential skills:
- Interpersonal skills – home health aides need good interpersonal skills to stay sympathetic and patient with those who are ill or injured. They know how to get patients to open up about their pain and personal self-care problems
- Bedside manner – home health aides care for sick patients, so employers prefer service-oriented professionals with warm, personable demeanors
- Computer skills – home health aides need at least basic computer skills to enter information into digital patient charts
- Communication skills – excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential for home health aides, who must chart patient progress and symptoms and collaborate with the rest of the patient care team
- Physical fitness – home health aides physically lift and transport patients, and perform tasks that require squatting, bending, lifting, and stooping, all of which require strength
- Analytical thinking – home health aides use analytical skills to evaluate patients and note their general state of health and ongoing progress
Tools of the Trade
Home health aides regularly work with these tools:
- Medical evaluation tools (thermometers, blood pressure cuffs)
- Medical equipment (oxygen machines, heart monitors, IVs)
- First aid materials (bandages, topical skin medicine)
Home Health Aide Education and Training
Home health aides must be 18 years or older with a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for hire. Because of the amount of travel associated with the job, home health aides must have a valid driver’s license and reliable personal transportation. Most employers also require home health aides to pass a background check.
Employers train home health aides on performing basic patient evaluations and in-home care tasks. The length of this training period varies by employer. During training, home health aides are closely supervised by a senior home health aide or manager.
Home Health Aide Salary and Outlook
Home health aides and personal care aides earn $11.12 hourly, or $23,130 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were almost 3 million jobs available for these professionals in 2016, a number that’s projected to grow 41 percent by 2026. This is much faster than the average U.S. job growth rate.
A majority of full-time home health aides receive full benefits packages from employers that include medical insurance with vision and dental coverage. Typically, 401(k) retirement plans are also offered. Home health aides receive paid vacation and holidays as part of standard packages. Because of the amount of travel involved with the job, some employers may offer travel reimbursement as well.
Use these resources to find job openings, look for education resources, and learn home healthcare tips and techniques for home health aides:
National Association for Home Care & Hospice – visit this website to find job opportunities, read healthcare industry news updates, look up conference dates, and locate medical facilities and hospices
Home Health Aide Training Handbook: A Practical Guide for Training Home Health Aides and Personal Care Assistants – this handbook serves as a training program for home health aides who need to learn the basics and get a fundamental understanding of how to perform the common tasks associated with the job
Home Care Association of America – find webinars, upcoming medical conferences, and other resources for home health aides at the HCAOA website
The Home Health Aide Handbook – this handbook is full of tips for evaluating patients, helping with pain management, performing medical techniques, and other home care-specific tasks such as housekeeping and cooking
American Health Care Association – discover training events, webinars, job openings, news updates, and research tools at this website made for all healthcare professionals
Providing Home Care: A Textbook for Home Health Aides – this book is made with illustrations and color tabs that make it easy to find specific information about providing in-home care to patients
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