As our adult population in the United States continues to age and live longer, health care is a much talked-about topic. Hospital and long-term health care facilities are expensive, and family members want their loved ones to live well with health care and housekeeping assistance being brought into the home.
The home health aide is a professionally trained individual who can assist seniors and others with physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation, speech and language rehabilitation or other needs related to recovery from injury, from medical incident such as stroke or heart attact or from surgery. While the term “in-home health care” is widely applied, the kind of care provided differs from discipline to discipline.
For example, a CNA, or Certified Nurse’s Aide, is an individual who helps individuals with their ADLs, or activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, meal preparation and shopping, checking vital signs and weight, helping with ROMs (range of motion exercises), planning diets and giving medications and treatments. CNAs also give invaluable emotional support and observe patients for changes in behavior and cognition.
Home care is preferred by seniors and family members alike. It leaves individuals in their own familiar place, giving them a sense of independence and belonging in the community at large. Additionally, home health care provides much-needed companionship, alleviating isolation, anxiety and loneliness that accompanies recovery from hospitalization or lengthy at-home recovery or illness.
Seniors who need basic day to day care benefit from someone competent and caring coming into the home. Patients in skilled nursing facilities often die sooner than people at home with similar health issues. Experts believe that institutionalization provides less friendship, comfort, love and familiarity than staying within the home environment.
The state of residence requires that the home health care aide be certified by the appropriate department of health. The individual must pass a certification exam before becoming licensed as a CNA (Certified Nursing Aide), and he must be drug tested and submit to a background check. Some states, such as California, do not have standards for home health aides. Florida and other states mandate licenses for various health care services.
Typically, a CNA assists the aged, debilitated or rehab patient with day to day tasks. An HHA, who is certified by the government, has more qualifications, more job opportunities, and higher pay.
As the senior population continues to grow in this country, the need for people to fill health care positions will grow. The HHA is an important bridge between the Registered Nurse (RN) and the individual who is in need of care.
There is a shortage of individuals who are willing to work in the health care field. As such, salaries are increasing; experienced home health aides can make $30,000 annually. Also, many practitioners begin their careers as home health aides and then get additional education to become Registered Nurses.
For personal satisfaction, opportunity, salary and chance for advancement, health care is a wide open and rewarding career in the United States today.