What Does a Home Health Aide Do? With Duties and Description

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A home health professional or caretaker laughs with an older person sitting in a chair. The professional wears a uniform top and holds a cup of coffee or tea. Another cup is on a table next to the patient or client.

Home health aides are people who work in health care and who assist clients in their own homes. This might be a good career option for individuals who enjoy making close personal connections with their patients. If you want to become a home health aide, learning more about the job and related duties can help you determine if the job is right for you. 

In this article, we discuss what a home health aide does, their typical work environment, salary and skills, and how to become one, and we provide an example job description and a related jobs list to consider.

What does a home health aide do?

Home health aides administer health care and support to the elderly, ill or people with disabilities. They often work in the patient's home and collaborate with family members to provide the best possible care. This job requires home health aides to have a wide variety of skills and knowledge in areas like communication, healthcare, medications, physical assistance and crisis intervention that they develop via education, experience and on-the-job training. These professionals may work for an agency or a patient's family. 

Related: 58 Interview Questions for Home Health Aides

Health aide duties and responsibilities

A home health aide may do a combination of the following tasks:

  • Monitoring and recording patient information

  • Light housekeeping duties such as cooking, laundry and dishes 

  • Assisting with medical tasks such as administering medication and checking vital signs

  • Assisting with personal care like bathing, grooming and getting dressed 

  • Accompanying patients to doctor's visits

  • Completing or assisting with other errands

  • Providing emotional and social support to patients and family members

  • Answering questions about best care practices

  • Facilitating end-of-life care

Related: HHA vs. PCA: Their Primary Duties and Major Differences


Home health aide requirements

Home health aide jobs require specific training and certifications:


Education

While it's possible to become a home health aide without a high school diploma or GED certificate, many job candidates hold one of these credentials. A college education is usually not a requirement for this position. This makes home health aide work an accessible profession for those who prefer to begin a career immediately rather than spending time and money attending college. 


Training

Training is an integral part of becoming a home health aide. Those who work for organizations or companies that receive funds from the government must complete a state-approved training program and evaluation. These often take place at community colleges or vocational schools and vary from state to state. States often require:

  • 75 hours of training

  • 16 hours of supervised practical work 

  • A passing grade on an evaluation or state certification

Those who work for private companies are more likely to receive on-the-job or other training from experienced aides at their company. 


Certifications

While in most states, certification is optional, some do license, register and otherwise certify their home health aides. Consider checking your state's laws before applying for jobs. Here are two options for certification: 

  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA): CNAs learn to provide high-quality, safe patient care. To become a CNA, you can sign up for a certificate program at a community college, vocational school, high school or online and experience a combination of class hours and clinical hours. 

  • Licensed practical nurse (LPN): As the next step after becoming a CNA, an LPN learns how to take vital signs, collect samples, administer medication and make patients comfortable. Community colleges and vocational schools offer LPN programs that typically last from 7 to 24 months, followed by licensure and an exam.

Related: 10 Skills Needed To Become a Home Health Aide


Home health aide work environment

While most home health aide positions take place in patient homes or residential facilities, they can exist in a variety of work environments. Here are a few things that home health aides can expect: 

  • Home health aides' environments may include equipment with basic medical equipment to help them complete tasks like taking vital signs and bathing patients.

  • Physical work is often a requirement, as home health aides may move patients in and out of bed, help with standing and assist with walking. 

  • Home health aides practice proper safety procedures to avoid infections and injuries on the job. 

  • Some jobs include traveling, especially for patients who the aides must take to and from doctor's appointments and errands.

  • Some home health aides work full time, while others work part time. Some patient schedules require aides to work on weekends, evenings and holidays.

  • Overnight shifts and live-in shifts are a possibility for these professionals.  

 Related: The Pros and Cons of Working in a Hospital (With Solutions)


Average salary for a home health aide

According to Indeed salaries, the national average salary for a home health aide is $37,233 per year. A home health aide's salary may vary depending on factors like experience level and geographical location. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Here are some common benefits that often accompany a home health aide salary:

  • 401(k) and 401(k) matching

  • Continuing education credits

  • Dental, health, vision, life and disability insurance

  • Employee assistance program and discount

  • Stock purchase plan

  • Flexible schedule

  • Flexible spending account

  • Health savings account

  • Loan forgiveness

  • Mileage and travel reimbursement

  • Opportunity for advancement

  • Paid sick time and paid time off (PTO)

  • Parental leave

  • Referral program

  • Retirement plan

  • Tuition reimbursement

Related: 50 Medical Salaries To Help You Choose a Career


Home health aide skills

Here are some useful skills for these professions: 


Compassion

Home health aides often work closely with individuals who are elderly, ill or otherwise in need of care. This makes compassion an important element of the home health aide job. Compassionate aides are patient, kind and empathetic. Their calm yet upbeat attitudes help their patients stay positive.


Communication

Verbal communication is a necessary skill set for home health aides, allowing them to communicate clearly and effectively. This keeps everyone safe when the aid is lifting, bathing or otherwise physically helping patients. They may also communicate with patients' family members or with agency supervisors. 


Flexibility

While many home health aides work set schedules, they may be most successful when always be ready for change. A day's activities might change because of the patient's illness, or the aide might receive an unexpected call to come in and assist with an urgent challenge. The ability to be flexible helps patients and also allows the home health aide to keep their stress levels low. 


Physical strength and stamina

Home health aides may lift, turn and otherwise physically support their patients. They're often the only person present who can do these tasks in the home. This makes it important for them to be physically strong, fit and energetic. 


Time management

Home health aides may succeed when they learn to budget their time. This allows them to make sure they complete all necessary tasks, including dispensing medication, grocery shopping and helping their patients take showers. Strong time management ensures that they meet all the expectations for their patients' best care.

Related: 8 Must-Have Home Health Aide Skills: Definition and Examples


How to become a home health aide

If you'd like to become a home health aide, you can follow these steps:


1. Gain experience

Most home health aide positions require some experience in the healthcare field. If you can, gain experience through another job, internship or apprenticeship. Caring for an elderly or ill relative or family friend can also be a worthwhile experience. 


2. Pursue training

If you want to strengthen your resume, you can pursue a certificate or other training program related to health. First aid and CPR certification can be helpful first steps. See what programs they offer at your local community college, vocational school, high school and hospital. 


3. Assemble your application materials

An effective resume and cover letter convey your previous work and educational experiences. They also clarify why you're a valuable candidate for the open position. Consider customizing your cover letter to refer to the specific job to which you're applying, regardless of whether you're applying to an agency or an individual. In your resume, include any educational credentials, certifications and experience. 


4. Search for jobs

You can start your job search online by checking online job list websites and local community groups. You may also search in person by checking job bulletins or visiting local agencies. Consider all the different medical and residential environments in your area, including elder care facilities and retirement communities. 

Related: How To Become a Home Health Aide


Home health aide job description example

Here's an example of what a home health aide job description might look like:

Health Care Co. is hoping to hire an experienced home health aide to work with several patients in the local area. Successful candidates are responsible for housework duties such as cooking, cleaning and laundry, as well as accompanying patients to local doctor's appointments and errands. They're comfortable assisting patients with personal care and health monitoring. They may also maintain accurate care records while providing a safe, caring and comfortable environment for all patients.

Related: How To Write a Home Health Aide Resume Objective in 5 Steps

3 careers related to a home health aide position

If you're interested in this line of work, here are a few related careers that you might consider besides home health aide. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.


1. Medical biller

National average salary: $35,371 per year

Job duties: These professionals determine how much a medical procedure is likely to cost, then create accurate billing statements. Then, they collect payment from patients and submit claims to insurance companies. A medical biller might work directly with patients to organize healthcare payments, or collaborate with medical coders, insurance providers and hospital administrative officials to ensure proper and timely payment. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Medical Biller


2. Medical records clerk

National average salary: $39,076 per year

Job duties: Medical records clerks collect and manage the health records of patients in hospitals, clinics, research centers or other medical facilities. They often collaborate with doctors and other care team members to ensure they've access to all relevant records. They may also file, store and retrieve records. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Medical Records Clerk


3. Nurse

National average salary: $84,836 per year

Job duties: Nurses work directly with patients and assist with recovery. These professionals may work closely with doctors to plan and facilitate an effective care plan. They may also assist with duties like hospital administration, administering medication and medical research. 

Read more: Learn About Being a Nurse

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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