The role of a home health aide

Caregivers come from all walks of life. Doctors and nurses may be the frontline medical providers people encounter most frequently, but there are plenty of others who do their part to maintain the well-being of individuals, including home health aides.

Home health aides, sometimes called personal care aides, are brought in to assist a person with activities of daily life. An HHA typically helps a person who may need some assistance with tasks they cannot perform due to illness or disability. HHAs may work in a person’s home, in a group home or in another care facility.

AARP says home health aides are considered health care paraprofessionals and must meet established training requirements, which vary by location.

HHAs may perform various duties, including:

  • assistance with personal care, such as dressing, toileting, feeding, and moving from bed to chair, etc.
  • checking vital signs
  • monitoring a client
  • light housekeeping
  • meal planning and cooking
  • picking up prescriptions
  • companionship

HHAs typically will not provide skilled nursing care and may not be able to offer recommendations on treatment or medications.

Individuals can find the services of HHAs who may work independently or are placed through agencies. Sometimes a doctor or hospital will have connections to HHA services and can make referrals. It can be useful to interview several potential HHAs to find one who will fit with the needs and personality of the person requiring assistance. A good HHA will be compassionate, patient and flexible. As illness or injury also can affect a person’s mood, HHAs must be able to adjust if a client is reluctant to receive help or is depressed or anxious from his or her limitations.

Home health aides serve vital roles in the health care community by providing care and companionship to those who can no longer live independently.

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