There are many industries that you could consider when looking for a career, but it is interesting to note that the healthcare industry is one of the best to choose as it is always stable and ever on the increase, even in times of economic difficulty. To get your foot in the door of the healthcare industry you may want to consider becoming a home care assistant/aide. This can serve as a stepping stone to launch your career as a health care professional.
What Is A Home Care Assistant/Aide?
A home care assistant/aide is someone who works with elderly and disabled (mentally and physically) patients in order to ensure that they are able to function on a day to day basis. The main purpose of this line of work is to provide a service to these patient populations that will allow them to continue living in their own homes with assistance. The idea is that the home care assistant/aide will help the patient regain some form of independence. The assistant or aide will provide those services that family members are, for some reason, unable to provide. As an entry level position in the healthcare industry, your tasks will be basic. In this line of work you may find employment in the following areas:
- Patient homes
- Hospice clinics
- Day programs
- Assisted living facilities,
- Other medical facilities
Another role of a home care assistant/aide is to organize transport when necessary for their patients when those patients are required to go to an event or appointment of some description. In short an assistant of this kind makes life easier for a patient experiencing difficulties.
What Does A Home Care Assistant/Aide Do?
A home care assistant/aide is in charge of assisting patients with basic tasks in:
There are a number of duties that a home care assistant/aide is required to fulfill on a daily basis. For one thing they are in charge of observing the residents or patients in their care and working in shifts to assist the patient in performing daily tasks (such as bathing or dressing). Because the role is a junior one, home care aides/assistants have to report to a Registered Nurse (RN) in cases where they work in a Residential Care Facility. One of the main duties of a carer in this position is to promote the patients independence as much as possible and help them to get back on their feet. Because nutrition is so important, you will also be in charge of documenting food and fluid intake. The last three tasks that you will be in charge of performing are generally keeping the patient’s space tidy and neat, transporting patients when necessary, and turning bedridden patients to avoid the development of bedsores.
The working hours and working conditions for home care assistants/aides are, general speaking, reasonable. Most full-time aides work about 40 hours a week, which is very similar to what many other healthcare professionals work. Often the job is a Monday to Friday affair with weekends off, something that cannot be said for working in a hospital setting. However because patients often need care 24 hours a day, and because their family members are not always able to take over from you in the evenings or on weekends, some aides work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays in order to ensure that the patient receives constant care. This is less convenient, but very necessary and is characteristic of many jobs in this industry. Often you will work shifts with one or more other aides who will work the times that you have off. Many home care assistants/aides work part time, making it easier to fit into a schedule that may include another job. Aides spend many hours standing and walking, and they often face heavy workloads, so you need to be physically capable of meeting the strenuous demands of the job.
Education Requirements And Training
Technically speaking there are no formal education requirements for being a home care assistant/aide, but there are courses that you can choose to complete which will make your career path easier for you. In these programs you would complete courses in the following subjects (among others):
- Philosophy of long-term care
- Dementia management strategies
- Promoting independence
- Psychology and personal care
Home healthcare often involves working with elderly patients, hence the need for a focus on gerontology. To get into a program of this kind you will need to have a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. You will also, in addition to the theory studies that you will engage in on topics, such as medical terminology, human anatomy, taking vital signs, CPR training, nutrition and patient care techniques, have to complete an internship of some kind to gain hands-on experience. This type of course will make you more marketable as a carer. Your state may require that you obtain licensure before you can be allowed to be a home care assistant/aide, so be sure that you know the rules for your state.
There are, it goes without saying, a number of challenges involved in being a home care assistant/aide, but you must not lose sight of the rewards that the job brings. By rewards we mean emotional and spiritual rewards rather than physical compensation. The main challenges that may come up during your training or while you are on the job are the following:
- Language challenges due to neurological damage and speech impairments from a person’s health condition – this will create a necessity for you to develop an alternative pattern of communication with your patient, perhaps based on eye movements or gestures rather than on actual speech; this is very similar to learning a new language and will require a great deal of patience on your part.
- Your shifts could be quite lengthy at times (but you will be compensated accordingly) – this is because patients in this position tend to need 24 hour care.
- You will be unable to do this job if you are physically weak or ill in some way – a clean bill of health from your physician is therefore essential.
The job outlook for this career is extremely good. This is because of:
- The high turnover rate in the profession
- The increase in demand for home healthcare services
- A rise in the elderly population (mainly due to the fact that the baby boom generation has now reached old age)
- An increase in understanding that mentally disabled adults also require home healthcare services
Through 2018 we can expect to see an increase in home care assistant/aide jobs of no less than 50% which is remarkably higher than most other professions. There will, very soon, be large number of job openings in this field, and, as you do not technically speaking need any formal training, you should be able to begin your career immediately (although it must be noted that initially you may find it difficult to seek employment if you do not have any training or experience behind your name). Once you have the all-important first job you will be well on your way to developing a career in this industry.
The salary for a home care assistant/aide is not bad at all when you consider the nature of the work that you will do. You can expect to earn about $7.35 – $18.22 in this position with an overall salary of around $15,342 – $37,892 a year. This is according to payscale.com. There are slight variations in the roles that you may perform. In Home Health Care you will probably earn about $7.49 – $15.17 an hour, in the Health Care Services you will probably earn about $7.85 – $14.90 an hour, and in Child Care or/ Day Care you will probably earn about $7.52 – $13.68 an hour. Learn4good.com states that you can expect to earn anything from $15,000 to $30,000 as a home care assistant/aide. The differences in salary here depend on a number of factors including:
- The position you hold
- The location where you are employed
- The qualifications that you have
Experience also affects pay. With a year or less of experience you will earn between $8.09 and $10.08 an hour and with one to four years experience you will earn between $8.11 and $10.37 an hour.
This job can be fairly intensive as it requires you to work long hours. However it is an excellent way to become involved in the health care industry. Because more and more people are interested in being treated on the comfort of their own homes, more and more home care assistant/aide jobs are becoming available for people who are skilled in that area. Consequently it is one of the more stable jobs that you could choose to pursue in this already stable field.