Why Become a Home Care Aide?

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Personal and home care aides help people who are elderly, disabled, ill, or mentally disabled to live in their own homes or in residential care facilities instead of in health facilities or institutions. Most personal and home care aides work with elderly or physically or mentally disabled clients who need more extensive personal and home care than family or friends can provide.

Some aides work with families in which a parent is incapacitated and small children need care. Others help discharged hospital patients who have relatively short-term needs. Home health aides who provide health-related services are discussed in the section on nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, elsewhere on this site. Personal and home care aides also called homemakers, caregivers, companions, and personal attendants provide housekeeping and routine personal care services.

They clean client houses, do laundry, and change bed linens. Aides may plan meals including special diets, shop for food, and cook. Aides also may help clients get out of bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Some accompany clients to doctor appointments or on other errands. Personal and home care aides provide instruction and psychological support to their patients. They may advise families and patients on nutrition, cleanliness, and household tasks.

Aides also may assist in toilet training a severely mentally handicapped child, or they may just listen to clients talk. In home health care agencies, a registered nurse, physical therapist, or social worker assigns specific duties and supervises personal and home care aides. Aides keep records of services performed and of client condition and progress. They report changes in the client condition to the supervisor or case manager.

In carrying out their work, aides cooperate with health care professionals, including registered nurses, therapists, and other medical staff. The personal and home care aide daily routine may vary. Aides may go to the same home every day for months or even years. Aides often visit four or five clients on the same day however, some aides may work solely with one client who is in need of more care and attention. In some situations, this may involve working with other aides in shifts so the client has an aide throughout the day and night.

Personal and home care aides generally work on their own, with periodic visits by their supervisor.They receive detailed instructions explaining when to visit clients and what services to perform for them. Aides are individually responsible for getting to the client home. They may spend a good portion of the work day traveling from one client to another. Aides must be careful to avoid over-exertion or injury when they assist clients.

Work surroundings differ from case to case. Some homes are neat and pleasant, whereas others are untidy and depressing. Some clients are pleasant and cooperative; others are angry, abusive, depressed, or otherwise difficult. Aides may spend a large portion of each day traveling between client homes. About 33 percent of aides work part time, and some work weekends or evenings to suit the needs of their clients.