Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides


Quick Facts: Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides
2017 Median Pay $23,130 per year 
$11.12 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 2,927,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 41% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 1,208,800

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Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Do

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

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Home Health Aides and Personal CARE AIDeS

Duties of Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides typically do the following:

  • Assist clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing

  • Housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming

  • Help to organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments

  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or other outings

  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications

  • Keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services (depending on the state they work in), such as checking a client’s pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. They may also help with simple prescribed exercises and or with giving medications. Occasionally, they change bandages or dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.

Personal care aides—sometimes called caregivers or personal attendants—are generally limited to providing non-medical services, including companionship, cleaning, cooking, and driving.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals.

Certified home health or hospice agencies often receive payments from government programs and therefore must comply with regulations regarding aides’ employment. Aides work under the direct supervision of medical professionals, usually nurses. These aides keep records of services performed and of clients’ conditions and progress. They report changes in clients’ conditions to supervisors or case managers, and work with therapists and other medical staff.


Work Environment for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides held about 911,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of home health aides were as follows:

Home healthcare services: 45%

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities: 23%

Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: 10%

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities: 6%

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): 3%

 

Personal care aides held about 2.0 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of personal care aides were as follows:

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities: 46%

Home healthcare services: 15%

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities: 9%

Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: 7%

Private households: 7%

Most home health aides and personal care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some visit four or five clients in the same day, and others only work with one client all day—in some cases staying with one client on a long-term basis. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide. They help people in hospices and day services programs, and may travel as they also help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Injuries and Illnesses

Personal care aides have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Home health aides have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Work as a home health or personal care aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Aides must guard against back injury because they often move clients into and out of bed or help them to stand or walk.

In addition, aides frequently work with clients who have cognitive impairments or mental health issues and who may display difficult or violent behaviors. Aides also face hazards from minor infections and exposure to communicable diseases, but can lessen their chance of infection by following proper procedures.

Work Schedules for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients’ needs.


How to Become a Home Health Aide and Personal Care Aide

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. Those working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.

Education 

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. There are also postsecondary non degree award programs at community colleges and vocational schools.

Training

Home health aides and personal care aides may be trained in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. Aides may learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond in an emergency. Specific training may be needed for certification if state certification is required.

Training may be done on the job or through specialized programs. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations 

Aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation to be certified. Some states allow aides to take a competency exam in order to become certified without taking any training.

Additional requirements for certification vary by state. In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers generally provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home healthcare agencies. In addition, states may conduct background checks on prospective aides. For specific state requirements, contact the state’s health board

Important Qualities 

Detail oriented. Home health aides and personal care aides must adhere to specific rules and protocols and carefully follow instructions to help take care of clients. Aides must carefully follow instructions from healthcare professionals, such as how to care for wounds or how to identify changes in a client’s condition.

Integrity. Home health aides and personal care aides should make clients feel comfortable when they tend to personal activities, such as helping a client bathe. In addition, aides must be dependable and trustworthy so that clients and their families can rely on them.

Interpersonal skills. Home health aides and personal care aides must work closely with clients. Sometimes, clients are in extreme pain or distress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be compassionate, and they must enjoy helping people.

Physical stamina. Home health aides and personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients.


salaries for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides 

The median annual wage for home health aides was $23,210 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $31,260.

The median annual wage for personal care aides was $23,100 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,160, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30,750.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for home health aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $24,360

Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: $23,760

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities: $23,310

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities: $23,200

Home healthcare services: $22,900

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for personal care aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities: $23,590

Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly: $23,410

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities: $23,280

Home healthcare services: $20,750

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours in order to attend to clients’ needs.


Job Outlook for home health aides and personal care aides

Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 41 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for the services of home health aides and personal care aides will continue to increase.

Elderly clients and people with disabilities are increasingly relying on home care as an alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Families may prefer to keep aging family members in their homes rather than in nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, may be able to reduce their medical expenses by staying in or returning to their homes.

Job Prospects for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Job prospects for home health aides and personal care aides are excellent. These occupations are large and are projected to add many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands may cause many workers to leave this occupation, and they will have to be replaced.

Employment projections data for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 2,927,600

Projected Employment, 2026: 4,136,400

Change, 2016-2026: +41%, +1,208,800


Careers Related to Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians and aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Technicians typically provide therapeutic care and monitor their patients’ conditions. Aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe, clean environment.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Childcare WorkersHigh school diploma or equivalent$22,290
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational NursesPostsecondary nondegree award$45,030
Medical AssistantsPostsecondary nondegree award$32,480
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies$27,510
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides$56,690
Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides$46,920
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides$29,330
Registered NursesBachelor's degree$70,000
Social and Human Service AssistantsHigh school diploma or equivalent$33,120

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm