Home health aide may not sound like an important medical career, but it most certainly is. A home health aide career can enable a person who’s seeking employment to begin working in a good-paying job in the health-care field with just a few months of training. There is a growing need for home health aides, as many people need regular medical attention but are unable to leave their homes, or just prefer that someone comes to their home. Doctors quit making house calls decades ago, but a home health aide (HHA) can check in on homebound patients, attend to their basic needs, and notify a doctor or registered nurse if further attention is needed. Many of the patients HHAs work with are elderly and alone, and often the aide is one of their few contacts with the outside world. A home health aide career is an opportunity to make a real difference in these people’s lives.
Not all the patients an HHA deals with will be elderly. Some may be developmentally disabled or have serious injuries that leave them partially or fully disabled. Not all of them will live alone, either; in many cases, they simply need a higher level of attention and care than their families can provide. No matter what the situation, the work will involve a lot of personal interaction. Duties often include helping patients get out of a chair or bed, helping them use the bathroom, giving them a bath, maintaining the cleanliness of their surroundings, changing clothes and bed sheets, etc. In some cases, shopping for their basic necessities may even be a part of the job. In some cases, an HHA will have several patients to work with on an ongoing basis, and it’s also not uncommon for one to be assigned full time to a particular patient for months or even years. It’s important to have a pleasant personality and a desire to help people. Being extremely patient and understanding of those with physical problems is also a high priority.
In a home health aide career, the HHA will be working for an outside health-care agency, either governmental or private. They will report directly to a registered nurse, who will be responsible for making sure they’re qualified to take care of the patient before sending them on an assignment. Part of the job will include writing regular reports on the patient’s condition and relaying these to the charge nurse. Monitoring in-home patients at all times will also be necessary so that medical experts can be called in right away if their condition worsens.
The educational requirements for a home health aide are easy to meet. In most cases, a person will be required to take Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA) training and pass a certification test in order to work. In the vast majority of cases, this will be the Certified Nurse’s Assistant exam. The CNA exam is simply a test given to all prospective HHAs and CNAs to make sure they’re qualified to do the job. Failure to pass with a high enough score will mean a person can’t get a job as an HHA and will have to retake the test until they do. Wages for home health aides have gone up in recent years, as demand for their services has increased. Currently most HHAs earn between $8 and $12 an hour; in some regions, this will be higher, especially the longer one stays on the job. Prospects for job growth are good; as millions of baby boomers retire, the demand for HHAs should get even stronger. It’s an excellent time to pursue a home health aide career.