Are you a caring and compassionate person looking for a career that makes a difference and has a great job outlook? Employment opportunities in healthcare are growing every year, but many positions require long hours of training or an expensive education.
Why not consider becoming a home health aide? Home health aides help people who really need it. They don't need to go through a degree or certificate program, and they have excellent job prospects.
Working as a home health aide can even be a stepping stone to a higher-paid medical career. Keep reading to learn what home health aides do and how you can become one.
Home health aides (HHA) help people who need assistance with their daily activities due to being older or disabled or having a chronic illness.
Most home health aides work in their clients’ homes, but they may also be employed in hospice care or group homes. Some home health aides are self-employed, while others work for care agencies.
A certified nursing assistant (CNA) is similar to a home health aide, but they have slightly different duties and require different training.
HHAs and CNAs provide some of the same assistance to patients, like feeding them or helping with personal hygiene.
Certified nursing assistants have more medical training than HHAs and are required to be certified by the state. A typical CNA course lasts 4–12 weeks and teaches the CNA to do things like administering medication and dressing wounds.
Some CNAs provide home care, but they’re more likely to work in a care facility. Home health aides focus more on household tasks, like doing the client’s laundry or grocery shopping.
Home health aides assist clients with the activities of daily living.
Depending on the client’s condition, that may mean helping them bathe, dress, or eat. Sometimes HHAs drive patients to doctor’s appointments or help them complete other errands.
The duties of a home health aide usually also include managing the client’s household. For example, they might clean the patient’s home, do their laundry, wash dishes, or handle their grocery shopping.
A home health aide usually works with one client at a time in the patient’s own home. Many clients need 24-hour care, so they’ll have multiple caregivers who come at different times. You might be the one who ends up working nights or weekends.
Home health aides get to know their clients well and are often companions as well as assistants.
An HHA doesn’t provide medical care, but they should understand the care plan set up by the patient’s doctor and comply with its requirements.
Before they start work, most home health aides will sit down with the client or their family members to discuss what care is needed.
HHAs don’t need medical skills, but it will be useful to know how to do some basic things like take a patient’s vital signs or provide first aid.
Physical strength is necessary for many HHA jobs since you need to lift or support patients. Some jobs will require a driver’s license to transport patients.
Soft skills — especially interpersonal skills — are essential for home health aides.
You need to have empathy and patience. You’ll be providing personal care to patients who struggle with basic things like using the toilet, and you can’t show any frustration.
Communication skills are also vital. You need to listen to your client or their family members, even if the client has trouble communicating. You may also need to update family members or communicate with their medical care providers.
Home health aides need to be reliable. Many clients can’t be left without care, so you can never show up late or miss a shift.
A sad part of being a home health aide is that you sometimes form bonds with older or ill people who eventually pass away. Being able to handle the difficult parts of the job is also a type of skill.
Most states don’t require any certification to become a home health aide. However, there are certificates you can get that will increase your employability. Group homes and other facilities may require certification.
You usually need a high school diploma or GED, although not all jobs require it.
Home health aides make an average salary of $27,080 per year. HHAs that work in continuing care, like retirement communities and assisted living facilities, earn slightly more than those that work in patients’ homes.
There’s a huge demand for HHAs that will only grow in the years to come. The U.S. population is aging, and many older people prefer to stay at home rather than moving into a nursing facility.
A 34% job growth is expected over the next decade.
It’s possible to get a home health aide job without any experience. If you’re new to the profession, focus your resume on soft skills like empathy and communication skills.
Tailor your resume and cover letter to the job description. Look through the job ad for keywords and use them in your resume.
For example, if the employer says the HHA should be highly organized, describe yourself that way in the resume summary or give an example of your organizational skills in the cover letter.
In most states, you don’t need to be certified to be an HHA. But if you did get a certification or complete any home health aide training, list it on your resume.
As the population ages, more and more people will need a responsible, compassionate home health aide. It’s a rewarding career with a low barrier to entry.
If you’re interested in becoming an HHA, you can find a home health aide job hiring near you on Jobcase.