Home Health Aide Work Environment

The home health aide, also referred to as an HHA or a caregiver, will typically help clients with daily personal tasks. These include dressing and grooming, providing basic health-related services, and companionship.  You are able to work in different work environments including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private client’s homes.

The duties will depend on whether the client resides in a private home or an assisted living facility.  HHAs help people who are cognitively impaired, ill or disabled. They work with elderly clients who need assistance with day-to-day living tasks.  In most states, a caregiver is able to administer a client’s medications and provide certain skin treatments and wound care tasks.

It is very important that you check with your state to see if your need certain certifications or other classes before you start your career.  Many states only require that you take a CPR and first aid training course, but others may require additional education.

In this article, we will discuss the different work environments that you can work in as an HHA.  We will also talk about the different levels of experience needed to work in certain jobs.

HHA Duties and Career Overview

Assisted Living Facilities

Often, the duties of a caregiver will be heavily based on the needs of the client and where the client resides.  There are different reasons that someone is in one of these facilities.  It is usually because the family cannot, or doesn’t want to, take on the responsibility of caring for their elderly loved one.

Nurse and elderly man spending time together

When you are hired as an HHA by a client living in an assisted living facility, the facility staff may handle tasks such as bathing, oral care, bathroom assistance and grooming, while the HHA will grocery shop for the client, take them to doctor’s appointments, assist with certain therapy treatments and remain with the client during waking hours for companionship.

This may not be the case for all facilities, as many of them are short-staffed.  As a caregiver, you may have to take on these other responsibilities as well.  The Rn’s and experienced will take care of the medicines and other responsibilities that you aren’t trained for, but you may be able to assist them and gain experience from experienced caregivers.

Client’s Homes

In a client’s home, the caregiver will be responsible for providing all levels of care, assisting with bathroom needs, showering, dressing and checking vital signs or administering medication.

Caring for the client’s home can also be a job requirement. This usually includes light housekeeping, laundry, dusting, and cooking.

An HHA will work for a certified home health agency or hospice. These caregivers will work under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse.  The more help that is needed, the more experience and knowledge you will need.  This ensures the safety of your client as well as yourself.

Keeping accurate records and documenting on a patient’s current health, lifestyle and eating habits are necessary in order to keep both the RN and the client’s doctor informed of the patient’s progress or decline. A caregiver will need to report any changes in their condition immediately, such as a significant change in bowel habits, eating or mobility.

An aide can also provide some basic health-related services, based on a client’s needs. They can also complete delegated tasks such as wound care dressing changes, provide massage and light exercise and help clients learn how to use medical equipment such as canes, prosthetic limbs or walkers.

Most aides will work for a client in a private residence, while others will work in larger care communities or small group or foster homes.

Some aides will work with the same client, commuting to their home on a daily basis for several months or years. Some aides will work with three or four different clients in the same day. Usually, this involves working with other aides in shifts, so that a client can enjoy around the clock care.

HHA Work Related Injuries

According to statistics, the HHA has a significantly higher rate of illness and injury than the national average. Working in this position can be both emotionally and physically demanding. The aide must follow proper transfer and ambulation procedures in order to avoid back injuries, which can easily occur when moving the client from one surface to another.

All aides are taught how to use lifting and ambulating assistance devices in order to minimize risk to both the client and the aide. These healthcare workers also work with clients who have mental health issues or cognitive impairment, some of which can display wandering, violent or difficult behaviors.  Exposure to communicable diseases and infections are also common.  However, serious risks can be prevented by following the proper protocol and disease and infection prevention procedures.

Most agencies that employ HHAs don’t offer much in terms of on the job training. Typically, these companies will provide only about forty hours. This type of training includes shadowing seasoned caregivers as they work with clients and complete tasks, in addition to working under the supervision of an RN as you practice proper medication administration techniques and wound care treatments. There are currently no formal education requirements for this position, but most agencies will require the applicant to have a GED or high school diploma.

These caregivers often work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare. Because of this, ongoing continuing education requirements must be fulfilled each year. The amount of continuing education hours each caregiver is expected to fulfill can vary from state to state, but is typically around ten to twelve hours annually.

The continuing education training for HHA’s can take place online or through seminars, demonstrations given by registered nurses or through CPR and first aid training. Failure to complete the required amount of continuing education hours each year can result in termination because it can affect an agency’s licensure.

Caregiver Average Salary and Job Outlook

The average hourly wage for a caregiver can range from $12 to $15 an hour, depending on the aide’s certifications and their amount of experience. it can also depend on the level of care per client.

Patients who need HHAs for companionship will offer a lower hourly fee than a patient who needs assistance with ambulation, dressing, medication administration and redirection. According to statistics, the higher ten percent in this field will earn a salary of about $30,000 annually, while the lower ten percent of HHAs will earn around $22,000.

health work environment

As the population continues to live longer, the demand for these healthcare workers will continue to grow. With new advancements in medications and geriatric healthcare, people are now simply living much longer than they did just twenty years ago. As the baby boomer population ages, it’s anticipated that the demand for qualified caregivers will increase by as much as fifty-four percent.

This type of home care option can be a lifesaver for families who simply can’t afford the high cost of assisted living facilities or nursing homes. It also allows families to care for their loved ones at home, in a familiar environment that allows the client to hold onto some level of independence.

The majority of clients prefer to be taken care of at home, around their family. Studies conducted regarding the end of life care for the geriatric population have shown that home treatment is usually more effective than the care offered in an assisted living facility or nursing home, allowing patients to remain more comfortable and live longer surrounded in a safe, familiar environment.