Definition of a Home Health Aide

Duties

Home health aides generally help elderly, convalescent or disabled persons living in their own homes. Aides check pulses, temperatures, and respiration rates; aid with prescribed exercises; and help patients with everyday activities. Experienced aides may also assist with medical equipment.

Agencies

The term "home health agency" generally indicates the provider is Medicare certified, and has met federal minimum requirements for patient care and management. Because of those regulations, care given by aides is highly monitored and controlled.

Licensure and Certification

Medicare-certified agencies are given guidelines for home health aides as a result of receiving Medicare reimbursement. Federal law states that aides employed by these agencies must pass a competency test.

Earnings

The median hourly wage of home health aides in May 2006, according to the BLS, was $9.34. Aides may receive pay increases with more experience and responsibility. Travel expenses typically are not covered.

Outlook

The demand for home health aides is expected to grow 49 percent by 2016, according to the BLS. High turnover in this industry stems from the relatively low salaries, the demanding nature of the job and little room for career development. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health aides held roughly 787,000 jobs in 2006, with most employed by home health care services, nursing and residential care facilities, and social assistance agencies.