What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Female home nurse helping senior male patient reordering prescription medication at laptop
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A home health aide cares for people who have disabilities, chronic illnesses, cognitive impairments, or age-related problems, who have the need or desire to still live in their own home.

The home health aide provides basic services that include administering medications, changing bandages, and checking vital signs like temperature, and pulse and respiration rates.

Although a home health aide works independently, he or she is supervised by a medical professional, usually a registered nurse. Be careful not to confuse home health aides with personal care aides who don't provide medical services of any type.

Home Health Aide Duties & Responsibilities

Learn about the job duties you can expect if you choose this career:

  • Help clients get dressed and undressed and maintain proper clothing
  • Provide and assist with personal services such as bathing and grooming
  • Accompany clients to their doctor visits
  • Oversee the administration of prescribed medications to clients
  • Assist clients who are unable to handle the day-to-day homemaking duties in their homes
  • Follow a specified care plan for the client and report on completed tasks after each visit

Home Health Aide Salary

A home health aide's salary varies based on the level of experience, geographical location, and other factors:

Education, Training & Certification 

Applicants receive training on the job and don't need to meet any specific educational requirements, although the job does involve some training:

  • Education: Although you don't need a high school diploma to become a home health aide, most people who work in this field have one. Since those are the job candidates with whom you will be competing, it makes sense for you to stay in school.
  • Training: Home health aides receive on-the-job training from registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or experienced aides. Some states require anyone working in this occupation to have formal training which vocational schools, community colleges, and home health care agencies provide.
  • Evaluation: Home health aides who work for agencies that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement must, according to United States law, complete a state-approved training program and a competency evaluation (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Home Health Agencies: State Operations Manual [PDF]). Some states place even more stringent requirements on agencies receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. In addition, several states license, certify or register home health aides. See the Licensed Occupation Tool on CareerOneStop for information about the requirements in individual states.

    Home Health Aide Skills & Competencies

    In addition to hands-on training, home health aides must have other "soft skills" that can help them excel in their jobs:

    • Interpersonal Skills: In addition to stellar listening and verbal communication skills, you must be able to connect with your patients and their families on a personal level. It is essential to gain their trust so you can make them feel safe and comfortable.
    • Time Management Skills: You will have many tasks to complete during your shift. The ability to prioritize them will help you get everything done.
    • Detail Oriented: Home health aides must keep track of a lot of things—medications, vital signs, and appointments, for example. The ability to pay attention to details is imperative.
    • Physical Stamina: You will have to lift clients and perform other tasks that require strength.

    Job Outlook 

    Because of its excellent job outlook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has designated this a "Bright Outlook" occupation. The outlook for home health aides over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is very strong, driven by the aging baby boomers and demand for in-home healthcare services.

    Employment is expected to grow by about 47 percent over the next ten years, which is much faster growth than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. Growth for other home health and personal care aides is projected to grow almost as fast, at 41 percent over the next ten years.

    These growth rates compare to the projected 7 percent growth for all occupations.

    Work Environment 

    Home healthcare agencies employ most individuals, usually deploying them to patients' homes. About 20 percent of individuals work in continuing care facilities, skilled nursing, and developmental disability facilities.

    Work Schedule 

    Jobs are typically full time, although some aides have part-time schedules. Patient schedules often require work on weekends, evenings, and holidays. Overnight shifts and live-in shifts are not uncommon.

    How to Get the Job

    RESEARCH

    Read online applications and job descriptions to learn more about the daily job duties of a home health aide, and assess whether you feel you're a fit for the job.


    APPLY

    You can go directly to the website of care facilities and apply for jobs posted on their sites. You can also find home health aide job listings on job boards such as Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com.

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