What Do Home Health Aides Do?
Home health aides work in the homes of people who need assistance in caring for themselves. They often help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. They also help older adults who may need assistance or people recovering from an illness who may live alone or need more assistance than their families can provide. Home health aides usually work under the supervision of a registered nurse or other health care practitioner to provide basic patient care. Home health aides may take and record a patient’s temperature, pulse, and blood pressure; assist patients with activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, and toileting; help patients to get in and out of bed; and assist with nursing procedures. Home health aides may also observe and report on patients’ physical, mental, and emotional states to their supervisor. In addition, they may assist with shopping, meal preparation, and housekeeping. Although their work can be physically and emotionally demanding, many home health aides gain great satisfaction from assisting those in need.
For more information: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides.htm
Where Do Home Health Aides Work?
Home health aides are usually employed by home health agencies and work in patients’ homes. Home health aides often visit multiple patients on the same day. Some home health aides work in small group homes or larger care communities.
Most full-time aides work about 40 hours per week, but because patients need care 24 hours a day, some aides may work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.
What Do Home Health Aides Earn?
In 2014, the median annual wage in New York for a Home Health Aide was $21,580, which was comparable to the national median annual wage of $21,380.
Supply and Demand
For the decade between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 48.5% rise nationwide in the number of Home Health Aides positions, and a 45.3% increase in the number of Home Health Aide positions in New York during the same time period.
Demand for Home Health Aides is growing significantly, attributable in part to the aging of the country’s population. Elderly and disabled clients increasingly rely on home care as a less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, can reduce their medical expenses by living in their homes and receiving medical care from a Home Health Aide. Another reason for a high demand for home care is that most clients prefer to be cared for in their homes where they are most comfortable. Studies have found that home treatment is often more effective than care in a nursing home or hospital, prolonging life, and increasing quality of life.
For more information on projections of home health aides by New York State labor regions, please click here.
New York Education and Licensure Requirements
Most home health and personal care aide have a high school diploma. Home health aides in New York must complete a 75-hour Department of Health training program. These training programs are available in a variety of settings, including high schools typically working through a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), vocational-technical schools, nursing care facilities, community colleges, and some home health agencies. Training program topics include communication and documentation skills; reading and recording vital signs; basic infection control procedures; body mechanics; maintenance of a healthy environment; emergency procedures; physical, emotional, and developmental characteristics of patients; personal hygiene and grooming; safe patient transfer techniques; normal range of motion and positioning; and healthy nutrition.
Most home health aides also receive training on-the-job by registered nurses, supervisors, or other health care providers in tasks specific to their clients. Aides also learn basic safety techniques and how to respond in an emergency. In addition, home health aides are required to complete 12 hours of in-service training each year.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers certification for home health aides. http://www.nahc.org.
The Federal Government has guidelines for home health aides whose employers receive reimbursement from Medicare. Federal law requires home health aides to pass a competency test covering a wide range of areas. A home health aide may receive training before taking the competency test.
Many home health agencies offer free home health aide training to individuals who agree to work for them on completion of training.
Home Health Aide Education Programs in New York (subject to change)
Home health aides are generally not required to have a high school diploma, although many do. Some employers provide classroom instruction for newly hired aides, while others rely exclusively on informal on-the-job instruction by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or experienced aides. Such training may last from several days to a few months. Aides also may attend lectures, workshops, and in-service training. Also, clients may prefer that tasks are done a certain way and may make those suggestions to the home health aide. A competency evaluation may be required to ensure the aide can perform the required tasks.
For the New York State Education Department list of home health aide training programs, click here: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nurseprogs-hha.htm.
Additional Web Links
The Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides.htm.
National Association for Home Care and Hospice: www.nahc.org
Healthcare Association of New York: http://www.hanys.org/
The New York State Association of Health Care Providers: http://www.nyshcp.org/
The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI): http://phinational.org/
Visiting Nurse Associations of America: www.vnaa.org