What Are the Duties of a Home Health Aide?

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 9/9/2018 9:12 AM by Interim HealthCare
These aides help seniors age in place — and feel connected again.
Most seniors prefer to age in place, in the home they know and love. For many older adults, home health aides make this possible. These aides assist with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation. But perhaps the most meaningful benefits they provide are companionship for the patient and much-needed “time off” for exhausted family caregivers.
The duties of a home health aide don’t require medical training. They do, however, require state-approved health training, such as in how to take vital signs,  provide basic care, infection control and emergency procedures; that’s how a home health aide (HHA) differs from a personal care aide (PCA).
A home health aide’s duties may include:
  • Helping with personal activities, such as bathing, dressing and grooming
  • Light housekeeping, such as doing laundry, washing dishes and changing the bed linens
  • Shopping for groceries
  • Planning, preparing or serving meals
  • Providing transportation to doctor’s appointments
  • Helping with using the toilet
  • Monitoring and documenting a client’s condition, including checking vital signs or recording how much they ate
  • Giving medication reminders to take them
Because older adults who don’t drive or have limited mobility can become isolated and depressed, visits from an aide can also provide an emotional boost.
“Sometimes, there are patients who are feeling down and are unwilling to take a bath or get cleaned up,” says Interim HealthCare aide Debra Atkinson. “If you just talk to them for a little bit, oftentimes they will perk up and change their mind. I’ve had patients who say that they don’t feel like eating. Usually, if I offer to eat with them, they change their minds.”
One Interim HealthCare client said her mother’s home health aide “truly became a member of our family. She not only made sure all of my Mom's basic needs were taken care of, but she made sure the days were filled with laughter, good food and great company.”
A typical day for a home health aide
Each state has its own home health aide training requirements. HHAs typically are supervised by a nurse and are trained to notice changes in a client’s condition or living environment and alert their supervisor. They often help the client’s family as well, providing advice on nutrition and other personal needs or teaching them how to lift or turn their loved one, for example. 
No day (or client) is the same, and home health aides enjoy some variety. It helps if you don’t mind driving — aides say they spend a good deal of the time in the car, traveling from home to home.
For Interim home health aide Cheyenne Pugh, a typical day combines physical help with a social visit. “We talk about how we are doing,” she says. “I tell them about my girls and just have a good visit with them. We do our routine, such as making the bed, doing a load of laundry, taking a shower and so on.”
She often hears stories of how her clients grew up and what their lives have been like. And that’s a reward in itself, says Pugh. “One of the main upsides to this job is your patients become family to you.”