Healthcare Professional Development

What Does a Home Health Aide Do?

Home health aide
Written by Joanna Hughes

If you’re looking for a highly sought after, exceptionally stable job in the growing field of healthcare, you’ve come to the right place: home health aides are poised for remarkable success in the years ahead. Not sure whether a career as a home health aide is right for you? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this important job.

The 411 on Home Health Aides

Home health aides offer a variety of assistance to people with special needs, including those who are cognitively impaired, chronically ill, or disabled. They also care for seniors in need of assistance. Depending on the particular job, the responsibilities of home health aides include everything from helping clients with personal hygiene tasks and checking vital signs to shopping, light housekeeping, and arranging for transportation. Home health aides also offer another vital service to the people for whom they care: companionship.

Unlike personal care aides who may be directly employed by their clients, home health aides usually work for agencies. With specialized training, home health aides may also provide simple medical care, such as administering medication and working with ventilators, although these functions must be performed under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or other trained healthcare professional.

Home health aides also play a vital role in the continuum of care. Not only do they track the condition and progress of their clients, but they are also tasked with reporting any changes to a client’s physical, mental or emotional state. This can help ensure that they receive the treatment they need as it arises.

Why Become a Home Health Aide?

With a projected growth rate of 48 percent between 2012 and 2022, home health aide positions offer unprecedented job security with a minimal investment of time and training. In fact, there are no formal education requirements to work in this field, although some employers — typically certified home health and hospice agencies — do require that employees undergo formal training and are certified by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

While you may not need a college degree, some other attributes are particularly important when it comes to working as a home health aide. These healthcare workers are detail oriented, skilled at time management, and have strong people skills. They should also be comfortable with performing physical tasks, as clients who are disabled may need to be lifted or turned.

And while the current salary for a home health aide is relatively low at $20,820 a year, as demand continues to skyrocket due to the aging “Baby Boomer” population and their increasing preference for “aging in place,” so is the potential that salaries will rise in relationship to demand.

Coming in behind industrial-organized psychologists (53 percent growth) and personal care aides (49 percent growth), home health aides claim the third spot on the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of the “10 Fastest Growing Jobs.” For many people, the combination of job security and the chance to make a difference in the lives of others adds up to a career that doesn’t just offer financial stability, but also professional fulfillment.

About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.