A certified home health aide works in peoples' homes to provide personal care for the elderly, the disabled, or patients who are recovering from illness or injury. The services of home health aides are often requested when family and friends are not able to adequately care for a person. A certified home health aide can help people stay in their own homes rather than in a residential care facility such as a nursing home.
Certified home health aides help their clients with daily activities, including meal preparation, dressing, bathing, and grooming. Light household tasks like laundry and changing bed linens are also part of the job. Under the supervision of medical and nursing staff, home health aides help patients with medication, mobility, and exercise regimens. They may provide basic medical support, such as monitoring pulse and temperature, changing bandages, and assisting with ventilators, prosthetics, and other medical devices.
Many certified home health aides work for home health agencies and receive on-the-job training by nurses and other experienced home care workers. In general, a high school diploma is not required. In the United States, home health aides must undergo a competency evaluation in order for their employers to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
Certification in the US is voluntary, and is offered through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. A certified home health aide must have completed a 75-hour course, demonstrated competency skills, and passed a written test. Some states require all home health aides to be licensed.
The work of the certified home health aide is physical in nature, involving standing and walking for many hours and often heavy lifting. Aspects of the job that may be considered unpleasant include emptying bedpans and dealing with irritable behavior. Aides who work for agencies may care for several patients in one day. To stay healthy and free from injury, a certified home health aide needs to know proper procedures for lifting patients and the principles of infection control. A physical exam and criminal background check are usually required for employment.
Certified home health aides may also be self-employed, setting their own work and fee schedules and often caring for the same patient for months or years. Since many patients need round-the-clock care, aides can also find night and weekend work. While opportunities for advancement for home health aides are limited, some workers seek additional training and education to become licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, or registered nurses.