Have you been wondering “what is a Home Health Aide?”
One of the fastest growing demand career fields, the home health aide or HHA helps home-bound people who are suffering from illness, old age, physical or mental impairment.
An increasing number of people are trying to avoid going to a long term care facilities or nursing homes by staying in the comfort of their own home. The support and personal care that a patient receives in their home is seen to make a major difference in the quality of life.
The importance of home health aides cannot be understated. For a majority of patients the ability to be cared for in their own homes instead of a sterile facility goes a long way towards the happiness, morale and overall quality of life. Home health aides make that happen by being there to make sure the patient gets the care and attention they need.
What is a Home Health Aide?
A home health aide is an Allied Health profession that is considered an entry level position in the field of healthcare. The United States Department of Labor predicts a need of 69% new HHA positions over the next decade. This projected demand exceeds almost every other career field, including those in the healthcare industry. These bountiful projections would seem to indicate strong employment opportunities will exist for both the short and long term.
The training bar is fairly low and is seen as a possible stepping stone for some to higher medical career professions. With the tremendous growth in new positions the bright future cannot overlooked by those who are interested in starting a career in healthcare but may not have the time or resources to go to college for four to eight years.
The typical day for an HHA can be very diverse, depending on the type of patient being care for, and what their condition is. Typically you are there for medical care but depending on the situation you may be helping with housekeeping chores too. Below are some duties that home health aides may find themselves doing on a regular basis:
- Taking and recording vitals such as pulse, respiration and temperature
- Administering oral medications as prescribed by a physician
- Making sure that medication routines are followed correctly
- Helping with therapy and exercises as ordered
- Changing dressings when needed
- Giving massages and alcohol rubs
- Keeping records of duties performed
- Observation of patient for changes
- Updating physician or nurse in charge on condition
- Helping patient use special equipment such as a hydraulic lift
- Keeping house clean and free of debris
- Doing laundry
- Changing bed linens
- Planning and/or cooking of meals (including special diets)
- Shopping and running errands
- Keeping Patient company/companionship
- Assist patient to eat, change clothes and toileting
- Helping patient move, get in and out of bed, bathe, dress and groom
- Serve as a guide and transportation if patient must leave the home
- Help take care of small children, if necessary
Most home health aides work at a client’s home through an agency. Normally they work alone with occasional visits from a supervisor such as a registered nurse, physical therapist or a social worker. You may work forty hours a week or more, or if it is your preference, you can pick and choose the hours and days you commit to your career. You may work with multiple patients each day, or your assignment may put you with one patient for an extended period of time. There is an endless amount of variety available to the HHA.
The amount of training you need to work as a home health aide is dependent on a few factors.
- State regulations
- Reimbursement from Medicare
- Your goals
While some states do not require formal training but rely on on-the-job training. A growing number of states are starting to set up training requirements and regulations for the safety and welfare of the public at large. Typically the state regulations similar to that of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is so far as hours and types of courses to be completed.
If you work for an agency or client that deals with Medicare, then you will need to have to follow the guidelines enacted by the Federal Government. This includes at least 75 hours of classroom and practical training and successfully passing an examination that meets the standards of the Health Care Financing Administration.
Even if you are not required get formal training or earn a certification, you may want to do so to improve your employment opportunities. By having the training and voluntary certification, you will be showing potential employers and clients that you are serious about your profession. Plus, you have the proper training to provide the client with the best service possible.
Skills and Traits:
To be a successful home health aide, you will need to have a number of skills and traits. Some of these you may be able to learn in training or through experience, while some of the traits are more inborn. These include:
- Listening Skills
- Critical Thinking
- Oral Expression and Comprehension
- Written Expression and Comprehension
- Observation Skills
- Deductive Reasoning
If you are looking to become a home health aide, then we highly suggest that you get the proper training to better your chances at employment and success in this great career. You can find training at a number of community colleges, nursing schools as well as vocational or technical schools. There are also some online programs that help you get the education you will need.
Becoming an HHA is an incredible opportunity for those looking to start a career in healthcare. The ability to help someone out is an amazing feeling and you are making a difference in the world. So what is a home health aide? It is one of the most rewarding jobs you may ever have.
The demand for home health aides is not expected to decrease any time soon, and if helping people is a special passion for you, a career as an HHA may be very rewarding.