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Home Health Aide

Home Health Aide (HHA)
Important Qualities of an HHA
Detail oriented—Home health and personal care aides must follow specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients.
Interpersonal skills—Home health and personal care aides must work closely with their clients. Sometimes, clients are in extreme pain or mental stress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be cheerful, compassionate, and emotionally stable. They must enjoy helping people.
Physical stamina—Home health and personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients who have a disability.
Time management skills—Clients and their families rely on home health and personal care aides. Therefore, it is important that aides stick to the agreed-upon schedule and arrive when they are expected.
There are no formal education requirements for home health and personal care aides. In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers generally provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies. In addition, states may conduct background checks on prospective aides. Home health aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation or receive state certification. Training includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition. Aides may take a competency exam to become certified without taking any training. These are the minimum requirements by law; additional requirements for certification vary by state.

Job Duties
Home Health Aides help with activities such as bathing and dressing, and they provide services such as light housekeeping. In addition, they help organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments, arrange transportation to doctor’s offices or outings, shop for groceries and prepare meals, and HHA’s also provide companionship. Occasionally, they change simple dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.
Home health aides typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with regulations. They work under the direct supervision of a medical professional, usually a nurse. These aides keep records of services performed and of the client's condition and progress. They report changes in the client's condition to the supervisor or case manager. Aides also work with therapists and other medical staff. When caring for patients in their home, some health aides will go to the same house every day or week for months or even years. Some visit four or five clients on the same day. Others work only with one client all day. This may involve working with other aides in shifts so the client always has an aide.
Job Outlook
Employment of personal care aides is expected to grow by 70 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for home health and personal care aides to provide assistance and companionship will continue to increase. Older clients often have health problems and need some help with daily activities. 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 returning to their homes. Another reason 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. (Source: www.bls.gov)