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What does a Home Health Aide do?

Diane Goettel
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A home health aide is a professional who helps elderly or disabled people who are living in their own homes instead of nursing homes or health care facilities. Home health aides also sometimes work with people who are recovering from illnesses, injuries, or surgeries. The key purpose of home health aides is to help people recover or live in a safe, healthy way in their own homes.

It is most common for home health aides to work with elderly or disabled people. In these cases, one home health aide may work with the same person for multiple years. When home health aides work with people who are expected to recover completely from an injury, surgery, or illness, the time that they spend working with one patient may be much shorter. In these cases, a home health aide may only work with a patient for a few weeks. One of the reasons that home health aides are not often called in to help with a patient who needs short-term care is that loved ones are often able to cover a patient’s needs during the at-home recovery.

The key purpose of a home health aide is to provide a patient with routine personal care and housekeeping. While many people have friends and family members who are willing to help them with such tasks, it is not always possible for loved ones to offer the kind of continuous care that is required. Home health aides, for example, will often help patients to get in and out of the bath, groom themselves, and dress. Home health aides may also prepare meals for patients.

It is important to note that home health aides are not meant to take over the responsibilities of doctors and nurses. The aides do regularly perform some health-related services. However, these services are always carried out according to the indications of a doctor or nurse.

Home health aides may record a patient’s vital information such as pulse rate, respiration rate, and temperature. They may also administer medication, change bandages, and provide skin care. If a home health aide has the necessary training, he or she might also work with a patient’s medical equipment, such as a ventilator.

Home health agencies usually employ registered nurses, physical therapists, and social workers to oversee the work of the home health aides that they employ. In the instance that a patient’s condition changes, the home health aide will report to the staff at the agency who will work with the patient and the patient’s doctor to reassess his or her needs.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Feb 08, 2015

@Laotionne - You don't have to be disabled to benefit from the help of a home health aide. In my mother's case, she desperately needed help because she had Alzheimer's disease, and because of her mental limitations she was unable to care for herself. I hired two health care aides to come in and spend time with her and my father. My father was not ill, but taking care of a person with Alzheimer's is difficult, and it was putting a big emotional strain on him.

The home health aides came in and prepared meals and helped my mother with her personal needs. They also watched her, and took her on outings. The two women who helped us were great, and we could not have survived without them. In addition to what they did for my mother, the aides also were a big help to my father. They gave him someone to talk with and laugh with. Because of my mother's condition, he was not really able to communicate with her one adult to another.

You should call a home health aide agency and ask about the services provided by the agency. After this, be sure to interview the aides rather than just accepting whoever the agency sends out. Find someone who will be likely to get along with your grandmother. Not all aides are the same. You have to find the right match for you and your situation.

By Laotionne — On Feb 07, 2015

There isn't anything physically or mentally wrong with my grandmother, but she is getting older and my grandfather died recently, and she has been going through a lot of difficult life changes because of his death. I think a home health aide worker could go a long way in helping my grandmother cope with her current situation, but since she isn't sick maybe a home health aide is not exactly what she needs.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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