Home Health Care Aides

Scope

The scope of duties for a home health care aide can vary depending on situation. Professional home health services encompass a wide array of health care and daily living assistance. It may include medical care, wound care, medication administration, pain management, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Essentially, many types of health care brought to your home. Assistance services for daily living include meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, errands, escorting clients to medical visits and transportation. Activities of daily living (ADL), is a term used to describe critical survival skills like bathing, dressing, transferring, using the toilet, eating, and walking. If you know of a family member or friend who needs assistance in the above areas, a home health care aide may be the answer.

Significance

A home health care aide can mean the difference between staying at home and living somewhat independently to institutionalization. For many families, it is an easy choice to make if they can afford the home health care aide. According to the United States Bureau of Labor, home health care aides generally earn "median hourly earnings of wage-and-salary personal and home care aides were $8.54 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.09 and $10.19 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.05, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $11.60 an hour" (Source: Bureau of Labor).

Quality of Care

The quality of care with a home health care aide can be high caliber. It is important to carefully assess any potential home health care aide before hiring them. Good questions to ask include: Employment history, references, experience and their disposition to certain situations that may arise between aide and patient. Perhaps the most important issue is to ensure compatibility between the home health care aide and the patient.

Problems

Problems with home health care aides are numerous. First, they have less medical training. If the patient in question has serious medical conditions it may be better to go with a licensed nurse for home care instead of an aide. The regulation and training for a home health care aide is small compared to that of a home health nurse. You may not need the full services of a nurse, so be mindful in your selection of a caregiver. As with anyone you bring in your home, misconduct can be of concern especially with a caregiver like theft, proper care and patient abuse so be aware.

Considerations

When considering hiring a home health care aide consider what services are needed. This will help determine what type of aide to request, what the salary should be, what type of training they have and how often you require assistance. Ask friends, family members and trusted medical providers if they recommend a specific agency. Often, word of mouth can be the most valuable type of information you can use in selecting a home health care aide for a loved one. Home health care aides are a rapidly growing workforce thanks in large part to the 76 million baby boomers in the United States alone. As our life spans increase, it may take assistance in the home to maintain quality of life with multiple chronic conditions and/or limited mobility. Home health care aides are not just for seniors. People with disabilities often employ their services.