Home Health Aide Job Description

Job description for home health aidesJob highlights

  • On average, home health aides make around $10 per hour
  • You will need certification for most home health aide positions
  • Job opportunities will grow by 50 percent over the next ten years

Home health aides care for physically, mentally or emotionally ill or injured people who wish to receive care in the comforts of their own home. Under the supervision of medical staff, home health aides administer oral medications, check pulse, respiration and blood pressure rates, keep rooms neat, and help patients move, dress and bathe. You should also be prepared to give massages and alcohol rubs on sore muscles, change dressings to cover wounds and sores, and assist with braces and artificial limbs. Patients may be recently discharged from the hospital and only need short-term care, or require extensive care that friends and family are unable to provide.

What are the working conditions?

Hours vary depending on patients' needs, especially those who need around-the-clock care. Most home health aides work a regular 40-hour work week, but some work weekends, nights and holidays. This job requires strength, both physically and emotionally. Work days consist of long hours on your feet and possible heavy lifting, as well as the emotional stress of working with the sick and elderly. Aides should take every measure to prevent the transmission of minor infections and major diseases, such as hepatitis.

This profession may have appeared on an episode of "Dirty Jobs " because aides are usually required to empty bed pans and change soiled bed sheets. Patients may also be unpleasant, disoriented or irritable at times. However, even with the demanding nature of this job, it is extremely rewarding--many aides gain great satisfaction in knowing they have truly helped those in need.

Home health aides may go to the same patient's home for months or even years, but most aides work with several different patients, sometimes on the same day. They generally work alone with periodic visits from their supervisor, so you need to be OK with working alone with the patient. Aides are given detailed instructions on how to care for each individual and are expected to follow them accordingly. They are responsible for getting to patients' homes on their own and may spend much of their day travelling, so you might want to trade your pick-up for a hybrid if you're getting into this line of work.

What skills do I need and how can I get promoted?

In many cases, you don't need a college degree or a high school diploma hanging on your wall for a job as a nursing, psychiatric or home health aide. However, hospitals may require you to have training and experience. Nursing care facilities often require workers without experience to complete at least 75 hours of training and pass an exam within four months of getting hired.

Applicants should be patient, tactful, friendly, emotionally stable and genuinely want to help those who need it. They should be willing to perform all required tasks, no matter how unpleasant, and have good communication skills. Home health aides should be honest and dependable, since they are being trusted to work in a patient's private home. If you're looking to move up in the medical field, you will generally need additional medical training and education. Luckily for all you high school and college students out there, you don't have to cut class to earn a paycheck--the evening and weekend hours give you the opportunity to work during the school year.

Show me the money!

Health benefits, paid vacation, sick-leave and pension plans are available to many hospital and some nursing care employees. Often times, home health care workers are not paid for their travel expenses or the time they spend driving in-between jobs, so you might want to put "gas card" on your holiday wish list this year. Most employers hire on-call workers only and provide no benefits to their employees.

Wages vary depending on location and job description. Check out our wage calculator for more specific information on pay for this job in your neck of the woods.

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