The Scoop on Home Health Aides

In the area of home care, a Home Health Aide is the frontline in care for patients who want to be at home, but who are in need of medical attention and assistance with daily activities.

This profession is not for the faint of heart because you care for patients who need help on a consistent basis, as well as with their concerned family who may not live in the same place. The job market in this area looks good, especially given the newest advances in health care and a heavy emphasis on home care, convalescent care, and hospice.

What in the World Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Home Health Aides work in living situations with patients who are in need of monitoring and simple medical assistance. If you're doing this kind of work, you would be charged with checking on the patient's vital signs, like heart rate and breathing, changing bandages, and offering medications and a sympathetic ear.

Sometimes a Home Health Aide works in a nursing home where the patients live, but the Home Health Aide is with them for only part of the day. It may be the case, however, that you take a job where you are living in the patient's house. You would be under the direct supervision of a Doctor or Nurse, but you would be the primary caregiver for the patient. You may need to move the patient and provide simple assistance with daily activities.

In Convalescent homes and Hospice care, you would just try to make the patient as comfortable as possible and be as compassionate and loving as possible.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Home Health Aides are not required to finish a training program or even have a high school diploma. However, the field of patient aide does have Federal requirements outside of a competency test. If you pass the Federal competency test, you can work as a Home Health Aide, but you may also want to go to Federal Training courses that are offered for Psychiatric and Nursing Aides.

Most of your training will come on the job while you are being supervised under a Nurse or Doctor. This kind of training is tailored to the medical and even the social needs of the particular patient. This requires that you relate to the patient's feelings without being overwhelmed by their needs, in addition to offering full professional support. People who like people will find this job very satisfying, particularly when you are the key element that allows the patient to live at home.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Getting a job in this field means that you have to go where the patients are. Every convalescent home, hospice care center, nursing home and hospital has a need for Home Health Aides. Though it seems like you are simply looking for places that have sick people, you can also work at an agency that will hire you to be the Home Health Aide who goes home with a patient for a couple days to get them settled, or, at a hospice care center, you might be the Home Health Aide who gets people settled in when they arrive. Or you might have a long-term situation where you call on certain patients every day for however long you are needed.

Perhaps if you worked at a Nursing Home, you might be assigned particular patients to work with everyday, or if you chose to work at a Nursing Home you might be a "runner" who helps everyone in the home whenever they need it.

Advancement in this field means either getting into management or training for another field of healthcare. If you're in school, you might find this job advantageous because you can work all kinds of odd hours and fit your job around your schooling and your life. With experience, you may want to get into management and supervision of other aides. So, you might be a night or day manager of a nursing home where you are responsible for all the aides and patients in a facility. This could lead to even bigger opportunities in the administration of health care. Either way, you're not just going to be helping Mr. Robinson down the hall to lunch everyday - if you don't want to.

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Home Health Aides Overview

Home Health Aide Salary:$20,460
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:0 years
# Employed in US:892,410
% Who work Part Time:24%
Physical Difficulty:+ + + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + + +

The Pros of being a Home Health Aide

  • You need no formal training - not even a High School Diploma
  • You can work any manner of hours to fit around your schooling and life
  • You can advance yourself into administration of use this job as a stepping stone to another medical career

The Cons of being a Home Health Aide

  • You spend a lot of time on your feet
  • When you're working with a patient you need to be at their "beckon call"
  • You might get bored if you only get to work with one person everyday