Home health aides help patients live comfortable lives by offering basic care services to patients in their own homes as opposed to a skilled nursing or other health care facility. They are an essential part of the home health care industry. After all, home health aides handle the care routines of patients who need assistance on a regular basis.
So what exactly is a home health aide? Read on to find out what a home health aide is and how you can become one yourself.
What Is a Home Health Aide?
Home health aides are health care professionals who offer personal care and assistance to patients in home and community settings, according to the Healthforce Center at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).
Home health aides commonly take care of patients who are not physically capable of fully taking care of themselves. These include elderly people, patients recovering from sickness or injuries, and persons with disabilities.
Home health aides typically work under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RNs), Physical Therapists (PTs), and other licensed health care professionals. They may also work in coordination with social workers.
What Are the Duties of a Home Health Aide?
Home health aides provide basic health care services and light housekeeping assistance to homebound patients on a regular basis. Their daily duties and responsibilities may include the following:
- Assisting with patients’ daily living activities, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and eating
- Monitoring the vital signs of patients, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiration
- Performing light household chores in patients’ homes, such as cleaning, laundry, cooking meals, and grocery shopping
- Making transportation arrangements for their patients, if necessary
- Offering basic health care services like administering prescription medication, changing non-sterile dressings, and helping patients to wear artificial limbs or braces
Home health aides are not required to perform advanced medical services, such as skilled nursing care, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. However, it is their responsibility to keep track of patients’ physical and mental health conditions. They are expected to report this information to Registered Nurses (RNs) and other health care professionals in each patient’s care team.
Home health aides may take care of patients on a long-term or short-term basis, depending on each patient’s personal situation and health care needs. Some home health aides live in their patients’ homes, while others work in regular shifts.
While some home health aides work independently, most are commonly employed by home health agencies, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and social assistance agencies. Employers usually assign home health aides to take care of designated patients.
How Can You Become a Home Health Aide?
Are you wondering how you can become a home health aide? The common minimum educational requirement for home health aides is a high school diploma. It means that you can consider seeking a career as a home health aide even if you have not yet earned a college degree.
You will need to undergo training as a home health aide via a state-approved program. The training requirements may differ with each state.
The federal law requires home health aides to gain a minimum of 75 hours of training, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). However, while many states stick to this standard, some states require at least 100 hours of training.
Finally, you will need to have a dependable means of transportation. After all, your work will require you to constantly travel to and from your patients’ homes.
What Is the OASIS?
The Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) is an assessment tool that can help home health aides and other home health care professionals improve their work. It was created for the purpose of collecting data on home health care patients.
OASIS is usually completed by supervisors, instead of the home health aides themselves. However, home health aides can use OASIS as a guideline as they provide health care to their patients. OASIS can serve as a standard that confirms if they are fulfilling all of their tasks fully and properly.
Salary and Job Outlook
Maybe you are curious about how much a home health aide typically earns. Home health aides receive an average salary of $25,280 per year and $12.15 per hour, according to the May 2019 data of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The employment rate for home health aides is expected to rise by 34% from 2019 to 2029. This projected growth is way faster than average compared to other occupations.
There is definitely room for more home health aides in the home health care industry: you can be one of them.
Are You Ready to Work as a Home Health Aide?
Perhaps you are considering pursuing a career as a home health aide. To be realistic, home health aides do not earn as much as licensed health care professionals. However, to balance things out, you will only need minimal preparations to become qualified as a home health aide.
More importantly, if you become a home health aide, it can be rewarding for you to make it possible for homebound patients to live comfortably in spite of their physical limitations. Plus, your job as a home health aide can serve as a stepping stone to other positions in the home health care field in the future.