You may have heard that becoming a home health aide (HHA) is a stable career choice, but you aren’t exactly sure what is covered in the home health aide job description. Do home health aides have to obtain certification? Do they have to be supervised by a registered nurse or medical doctor? These are all important questions to address when exploring the career opportunities of a home health aide. Some HHAs are certified, while others receive professional training without certification. Many HHAs are supervised by RNs or MDs; others are only supervised by the homecare agency they work for. With these variables, the home health aide job description isn’t so simple. There are general descriptions available, but home health aides’ day-to-day activities can vary quite a bit.
Home health aides are different from certified nursing assistants (CNA), most notably by the fact that home health aides are trained specifically to work in domestic settings. This means that while HHAs perform a lot of the same duties that CNAs do, the home health aide job description also includes duties such as housekeeping, meal preparation, and errand running. To generalize, a home health aide’s job description is to provide patients with both personal care and medical related services, in the patient home, on a daily basis. Here is a list of home health aide responsibilities that might be expected:
- Monitor patients’ vital signs (pulse rate, body temperature, breathing)
- Change dressings on open wounds or post op wounds
- Escort patients to doctor’s appointments or on other necessary errands
- Run errands for patients who are immobile or unable to travel
- Light housework and chores
- Meal preparation and patient feeding
- Medication administration (only under the supervision of an RN or medical doctor)
- Update patient records and observations (for report to RN or MD)
The home health aide job description also requires HHAs to be prepared to care for patients of all different natures. For example, one job might require hospice services or caring for the chronically ill. Other jobs would be shorter term, like patients recovering from a car accident, major surgery or a short-term, yet debilitating, illness. Also, with the baby boomer generation aging, many agencies are looking for home health aides that can help take care of elderly patients. In fact, the increasingly large amount of elderly people who need fulltime caretakers is one of the major reasons HHAs are in such high demand.
In order to be successful as a home health aide, you must be willing to care for patients of all these natures, and more. Home health aides must be able to adapt their care to fit the needs of their patients. They also must be able to cooperate with and communicate efficiently with medical doctors, registered nurses, and the patients’ family members. This is why the requirement of being able to read, write and speak in English is important to home health aides employed in the United States.
The home health aide job description, then, varies quite a bit from patient to patient. The health services agencies that employ HHAs generally place newly trained home health aides in more straightforward and less demanding jobs. A home health aide with more experience is trusted with high demand or difficult patients. It is also up to the agency to decide how much presence and supervision a registered nurse or medical doctor should have over the HHA in each individual patient case.
If you are considering pursuing the career of a home health aide, take a careful look at the home health aide job description as outlined in this article and decide whether or not this is the right job for you.