What Does a Home Health Aide Do?
With the Baby Boomer population reaching an age where care at assisted living facilities may be necessary to manage age-related ailments, many families are exploring other options to care for loved ones. Home health aides are a crucial resource for elderly and disabled individuals who want to continue living at home.
What Are Common Duties for HHAs?
Individual duties for HHAs will be determined by care plans, individual training for HHAs, and case managers. Some of the most common home health aide duties can include:
Hygiene can be a unique challenge for some elderly and disabled clients who are unable to meet grooming needs independently. Tasks such as bathing, dressing, hair combing, and toileting are all important to maintaining the health of the body.
Keeping up with regular hygiene needs can prevent dry skin, skin irritation, and infections that may cause other health complications. An HHA will assist with the completion of these tasks, such as by supervising showers or baths.
Many clients who live at home are unable to safely prepare meals on their own. Operating a stove or oven, using a knife to chop food, and other cooking tasks are sometimes difficult for those who have limited mobility. Furthermore, some individuals may also have trouble remembering to eat due to anxiety or depression, while others may have a disinterest in eating due to chemotherapy.
The role of an HHA is to assist in meal preparation so that clients can have easy access to nutritious meals and snacks. The HHA will prepare food that is culturally sensitive and nutrient-dense and may also assist the client with eating.
Medical Care and Medication Reminders
Some elderly and disabled people may need medical care at home, particularly people recovering from long-term illnesses, surgery, and other health concerns. An HHA may have a qualification as a licensed practical nurse, particularly if care will be provided to clients who need medical care that is more extensive. For example, a medical care recipient may need help with monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar, and medical equipment for remote medical monitoring. Providing medical services may also include administering IV, monitoring oxygen, checking vital signs, recording vital signs, and more.
Many home care recipients will need medication reminders. Some medications must be taken at the same time every day or with meals, but a client may forget to take medications on schedule. In this case, the role of the HHA is to remind the client to take medications on time. Sometimes, an HHA may also sort medications into easy-to-open containers if the client is taking multiple medications and supplements.
Infection control is particularly important for people who have compromised immune systems, which is very common for elderly and disabled people. An HHA will use personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of spreading infections while taking care of clients who are at a higher risk of developing serious illnesses.
HHAs also help with everyday tasks of daily living. These daily living activities can include going on walks, attending support groups, engaging in hobbies, and much more. Many individuals will need help with in-home mobility or light exercise, both of which can minimize the risk of serious falls.
An HHA may also help with housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, vacuuming floors, dusting, and doing laundry. Light housekeeping is important for controlling allergens and minimizing the spread of disease. The psychological benefit of a clean and tidy home can also be important for patients who are homebound.
Many patients will also need help with transportation, either for everyday errands or appointments at doctors’ offices. Transportation assistance is crucial since individuals who use assistive mobility devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers, may struggle with public transportation.
Who Are Common Clients?
Most clients who need home health aides will include elderly individuals past retirement age, people who have chronic diseases, people with physical or developmental disabilities, and people who are recovering from surgical procedures. A client may also include someone who has difficulty walking, a mental condition, or other challenges.
How Does Professional Personal Care Help the Client?
It’s important to understand that home care is designed to provide long-term care services to patients who require assistance for everyday needs, but who may not require the extensive assistance provided by other forms of long-term care. A case manager and home care aide will work together to help a home care recipient maintain independence, preserve dignity, and improve quality of life.
Although a personal care aide will provide in-home care services, these services are meant to help the client maintain an independent living status. The client will direct the duties of the home health aide to manage tasks that the client cannot do alone.
Additionally, aging and disabled clients often have to contend with the cognitive dissonance between what they want to do and what they can no longer do, so having an HHA can make it easier for the client to cope.
For a patient who has incontinence issues, preserving dignity can be a challenge. The goal of an HHA should be to minimize any shame or negative feelings the patient may have about their condition by enabling them to live their own life at home as much as possible.
Improve Quality of Life
An HHA can improve quality of life for the patient. For example, a patient who is unable to keep a clean home or eat nutritious meals can greatly benefit from a home health aide who can meet these needs. Home health aides can also improve the patient’s quality of life by spending time with the patient, which can reduce some of the isolation disabled and older adults may feel.
What Type of Training Do Health Aides Require?
Home health workers will need to have training in emergency procedures, learn basic safety techniques, and complete other state-approved health training for home health services. In New York, home health aides will also need to complete a competency test and keep up with other certification requirements.
To provide home health care, home health aides will not need to have extensive educational requirements. Having a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for education, although some HHAs may have degrees from community colleges. Many home health aides are also registered nurses who hold higher degrees as licensed practical nurses.
Are There Other Requirements To Become an HHA?
An HHA must also have excellent physical stamina and emotional intelligence. Working as a home health aide is emotionally demanding and can be physically stressful, particularly since some home health aide duties will include lifting clients with mobility issues.
Personal care aides should also have a high level of compassion. Because some personal care recipients may have chronic pain or other difficulties with everyday needs, a home health provider must be able to treat each client with compassion and empathy.
Who Can Become an HHA?
While a registered nurse can certainly become a home health aide, most home health aides are actually family members. Family caregivers are frequently live-in healthcare paraprofessionals who provide services to parents, grandparents, and children.
Being a paid caregiver while taking care of a family member can assist patients and families. Some patients may also prefer the help of a family member for certain personal care needs as well.
What Is the Job Demand for Home Health Aides?
The demand for experienced home health aides is exceptionally high in New York. The high demand for home health aides is projected to grow by at least 25% over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Are the Benefits of This Career?
A home health care aide will have regular shifts and a steady wage. The median wage for a home health aide is about $17 an hour in New York, although registered nurses who provide home health care may earn more money. The wage a home health aide makes may also be influenced by which part of the state they are working in.
Home care is a quickly growing field in the healthcare industry. An HHA can keep long-term care individuals out of nursing homes by providing the same service as a nursing home in the client’s family home. To learn more about HHA services in New York, contact Parent Care at 718-486-7100.