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HomeCareers ‣ Home Health Aide

Home Health Aide

colleges offer programs related to this career near Ashburn, VA

Career Overview

For people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired, everyday life can be a struggle�"a simple task such as standing up and walking can be difficult. Fortunately, there are home health aides to provide them with the daily assistance they need.If you are compassionate and enjoy helping others, working as a home health aide could be a great job for you. Imagine someone's sweet grandpa who is struggling with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This condition causes weakness in his leg, feet, or ankles, and it can also cause him to slur his speech or have trouble swallowing. As a client of yours, he would count on you to help him with bathing and dressing, giving him his prescribed medications, and planning his appointments, among other tasks.Working as a home health aide, you will also do light housekeeping such as laundry and the dishes, shop for groceries and prepare meals, and you'll even provide companionship. Imagine the frustration that comes with being unable to live independently and without the ability to live your life as you choose. Your clients will appreciate all the help you provide them, and even more when you kindly spend time talking and bonding with them.Not all of your clients will be older; there are people of various ages disabled by chronic illness or cognitive impairment. For example, you could work with a teenager who has cerebral palsy, a condition that can cause stiff muscles, weak muscles, poor coordination, and tremors, among other symptoms. In this scenario, you would be responsible for helping them with daily tasks, as well as treating them with great kindness. It's important to remember that how you react to their condition can impact how they view themselves.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$23,210
820,960
46.7 %
Virginia
$21,770
10,790
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
High School Diploma or equivalent

Although it is not normally required, most people have a high school diploma or the equivalent before becoming a home health aide. You will need to finish a minimum level of training and in many cases, receive state certification. On-the-job training will include learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition. While these are the minimum requirements by law, any additional requirements for certification vary by state.Although it is not always required, employers prefer to hire certified aides. To earn your certification from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), you will need to complete 75 hours of training, observation and documentation of 17 skills demonstrating competency, and pass a written exam.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Detail Oriented

Work Environment

Your job as a home health aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. It is important that you do not strain your back as you move clients in and out of bed, or help them to stand and walk. As part of your training, you will be shown proper techniques to best prevent injury, and it is crucial for the safety of both you and your client that you follow these procedures.Furthermore, you will often work with people who have cognitive impairments or mental health issues who may display difficult or sometimes violent behavior. In these cases, it is imperative that you learn how to read the mood of your client. If you notice that they are becoming irritated, it will help you to determine if a walk is a good idea, or if maybe it's best that you sit and read with them for a while instead.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013