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Home Healthcare Aides

As the population ages, more job opportunities are opening up for home healthcare aides. Home healthcare aides provide a variety of services such as making meals, changing bed linens, shopping, administering medications and personal care such as bathing and grooming. They can also serve as companions, accompanying clients to appointments outside of the home. Depending on the need of the individual, the home healthcare aide may work full time or just a few hours a day, with some assignments lasting for years. Working with the elderly or disabled, the home healthcare aide supplies more extensive care than family or friends can provide.

Training to be a Home Health Care Aide varies from state to state. The National Association for Home Care offers national certification for home care aides. Because the aide works in private homes, confidentiality and discreetness are a must. A physical examination, including such mandated tests as tuberculosis, may be required.

The Federal government has guidelines for the hiring of health care workers for those patients who receive Medicare reimbursements. Federal law requires home health aides to pass a competency test. Included in this test are areas such as: communication skills; documentation of patient status and care provided; reading and recording vital signs; basic infection control procedures; basic body functions; maintenance of a healthy environment; emergency procedures; physical, emotional, and developmental characteristics of patients; personal hygiene and grooming; safe transfer techniques; normal range of motion and positioning; and basic nutrition.

Training is available before taking the competency test. Training and testing programs are often offered by the employing agency; they should be supervised by a registered nurse and should meet the standards of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services.

To find the right home health care service for your needs, consult your physician, hospital discharge planner, or a social service organization. Your state department on health, aging, and social services can also provide a list of certified home healthcare providers.

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