In home health care, unlike in other settings, you have the privilege of working with patients in their homes. You enter the private space of someone who needs your help. Even though some of your clients may be difficult and the work can be challenging at times, you should always know that you are making a positive difference in the lives of others — and that is the greatest reward of all.
What is an HHA’s job?
A home health aide’s job is to provide assistance with activities of daily living as well as other duties to help someone live independently at home. This is a rewarding and important job. It’s not only more comfortable for the patient to stay at home, but home health care is also more economically efficient because the care is tailored to his or her needs.
A home health aide’s work is so varied that there is no such thing as a “typical week”. HHA shifts don’t have a set duration; you could work as little as two hours, but there are also standard eight-hour shifts and even live-in situations, depending on the client’s needs. Clients may need an HHA for a few weeks to a few years. Although most home health aides work with aging seniors, they can work with people of all ages.
Having a home health aide in the home can make a huge difference. In your daily work as an HHA, you make a huge difference in people’s lives, whether you are providing family caregivers with some much-needed respite, assisting a client through a difficult recovery, or building strong relationships.
Home health aide duties
A home health aide assists with activities of daily living (ADLs). Let’s take a look at the three main responsibilities of a home health aide:
- Assistance with personal care
- Light housekeeping
Personal care assistance
Over 80% of seniors want to stay at home for as long as possible, but many need help with daily tasks to do so. You get to keep seniors living where they are most comfortable and happy in their own homes as a home health aide.
Some families need your help to keep their aging parent(s) safe and independent. Your presence as a home health aide makes all the difference to people who are having trouble with personal care tasks like bathing and dressing.
Bathing, grooming, using the toilet, and dressing
During home health aide training, you’ll learn a variety of skills that will help you provide clients with a variety of personal care. For bathing, dressing, and using the toilet, you may be caring for a person who has difficulty walking, so you may need to transfer them to a wheelchair or help them walk with a cane or walker. If they can no longer walk, you may have to use a mechanical lift (a machine or tool that helps them). Standing, walking, bathing, and getting dressed can be physically draining, which is why loved ones need your assistance.
Some clients may not be able to get out of bed, which is why home health aides are trained to provide sponge baths and hair care while the client is in bed. HHAs should also provide range of motion exercises to someone who doesn’t move much (if prescribed by a doctor). It is very helpful to move and position a patient with a draw sheet (a small sheet under them) to prevent bed sores and skin breakdown. Regular skin care is also very helpful.
The grooming process becomes very challenging when your client cannot perform steady, nimble movements. Additionally, you can help your clients with shaving, brushing their hair, applying makeup, filing their nails, getting dressed, and caring for their mouths and dentures.
Meal planning and preparation
Perhaps your client is paralyzed from the waist down, suffers from arthritis and is unable to chop food, or has dementia, which makes cooking dangerous. It is possible for a client to not be able to cook or prepare meals for themselves for a variety of reasons. Clients can stay safe while enjoying a varied diet with a home health aide’s help in the kitchen.
Medication reminders and picking up prescriptions
A physician’s best partner is a caregiver in the home, whom he or she can observe in the patient’s everyday environment. Patients can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available, which is why making sure they’re following their medication schedule and not missing a dose is so important. Taking prescriptions to clients who cannot drive takes one more burden off family members.
A person who is struggling to safely care for themselves can find it difficult to keep a house clean and livable.
Those of you who have been injured or sick at home know how challenging it is to keep up with the daily housekeeping tasks. Home health aides give clients the reassurance that tasks will be done even when they are unable to accomplish them themselves.
Your skills can relieve family members of the client of a great deal of stress. The family can focus on their loved one when you take over many of the day-to-day responsibilities.
Social relationships are crucial to your mental and physical health, according to research. This is especially true for older clients who may feel isolated from friends and family. Studies indicate that social isolation significantly increases the risk of premature death; isolation is associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of dementia.
By providing compassionate, excellent, and reliable care, you not only benefit the client, but also improve your own health. When you help others, your blood pressure will be lower, your stress level will be lower, and you will find meaning and purpose in your life. An added bonus of being a home health aide is that you can brighten people’s days for a living!
Rewards of working as a home health aide
Working one-on-one with clients in their homes allows you to establish a meaningful relationship with them. As a home health aide, you can also spend time listening to your client’s stories about when they were younger, sharing a joke with your client, or listening to music that reminds your client of happy times.
Besides giving you a meaningful and valuable career, living in the home care industry also allows you to enjoy a flexible schedule and a career in one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of home health aide jobs will rise by 41% by 2026, so there will be plenty of opportunity for home health aides.
Work as a home health aide gives you the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Now that’s an impressive job description!