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.
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.
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
Home health aide requirements
Home health aide jobs require specific training and certifications:
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 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.
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.
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.
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 spending account
Health savings account
Mileage and travel reimbursement
Opportunity for advancement
Paid sick time and paid time off (PTO)
Home health aide skills
Here are some useful skills for these professions:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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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