The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that in 2008 home health aides occupied about 1.7 million jobs. The BLS also ranks the job outlook for home health aides as excellent. Home health aides are responsible for assisting the disabled and the severely ill who reside at home or in residential facilities instead of in hospitals or health care institutions. To become a home health aide, the individual must undergo related training.
Qualifications for a Home Health Aide
The aide should have a desire to help others. She should also have a pleasant attitude, be responsible, sympathetic, emotionally stable, discreet and trustworthy because she will be working in the patient’s home. Good health is a requirement for the home health aide. She must undergo a physical exam including tests regulated by the state for tuberculosis and other diseases. She may also have to undergo a criminal background check. She may also need to have a good driving record in case her duties include driving the patient around and going grocery shopping.
Training for a Home Health Aide
A home health aide does not to have a high school diploma. She will be trained on the job by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, seasoned home health aides, and their superiors. She will learn how to prepare meals for the patient, how to perform basic housekeeping chores, including making the patient’s bed and keeping the environment healthy and safe for him. She may also learn basic emergency and safety strategies, and how to behave while in the patient’s home.
If the home health aide would like to work for licensed hospice agencies that are reimbursed for Medicaid or Medicare she must undergo formal training and pass a competency exam. She must finish the training program, which consist of a minimum of 75 hours, and pass a competency assessment or a state certification program.
Work Environment for a Home Health Aide
A home health aide’s tasks can be physically strenuous. The aide must be careful not to sustain back injury because her chores may include moving the patient in and out of bed and helping him to stand or walk around. She can also be susceptible to minor infections and exposure to diseases such as hepatitis, which she can prevent by adhering to proper procedures. She may also perform tasks that others view as undesirable such as emptying bedpans and changing dirty linens.
Tips for Becoming a Home Health Aide
To become a personal or home care aide, the individual does not have to be certified.
For national certification, contact the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC).
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