People Are Hiring Home Health Aides. Do You Have What It Takes?
One of the most important roles for a senior care aide is personality. You have to give a lot of patience, companionship, and support to your patients every day. It can be draining and exhausting but it’s also incredibly rewarding. There’s also the benefit of a good job market with many home health agencies hiring, especially as the Baby Boomer generation moves into retirement. If you’re considering a career as a senior home health assistant, here’s what you need to know.
Who Works in Home Care?
Home care assistant is the general term to describe the two different kinds of senior care providers. Home health aides (HHAs) help patients with daily tasks like dressing, bathing, cooking and housekeeping chores. Personal care aides or caregivers provide companionship and assist with everyday tasks, but they can’t perform any medical-related tasks.
Registered nurses and licensed vocational or practical nurses also provide home care for elderly patients. People with this experience are generally more qualified to offer basic medical care in a patient’s home. This can include taking vitals, administering medications, dressing wounds and monitoring catheters. Occupational therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists and other specialists also work with senior health care.
Certification and Training
Certification and training will give you confidence in your ability to offer the best patient care and give your patients and their families peace of mind. It also gives you credibility and helps you stand out among other potential care providers who may not have the same credentials. Many community colleges and local hospitals offer training programs for home health services.
The American Red Cross has a Family Caregiving Program that covers safety, assistance with personal care, healthy eating and general care for senior citizens. The course is especially important for people who care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
For national certification in in-home care, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) offers training. Official certification is given to people who demonstrate proficiency in both hands-on and written exams.
The National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses provides different levels of certification. You need to licensed nurse for many of these certifications. The ones that you don’t need a license for require several supervised practice hours.
Each state has its own laws about certification, licensing and insurance for senior care providers. Some states employ home health aides with on-the-job training but others require more formal experience. Caregivers have different levels of responsibility ranging from housekeeping to medial assistance. Certification and education requirements may influence what role a caregiver performs.
In Colorado, there are separate requirements for Class A medical agencies and Class B non-medical agencies. Medical skilled agencies employ nurses, occupational therapists, and other licensed or certified health practitioners. Non-medical agencies offer personal care and help with daily tasks with limited or no medical services. In Colorado, home health care is licensed but personal care and companion care services are not licensed.
There are many paths to a career in senior home health care. Many people begin by offering companionship and support for aging loved ones and then get more specialized training and education to help others. In spite of the challenges that come with working with elderly patients, home health aides have a passion for helping others and are rewarded for their dedication to providing quality care.