During illness or failing health, patients may either need to go to the hospital, or stay at home with assistance. In the home, there are many types of assistive medical care. Some are high level, certified providers like nursing assistants or respiratory technicians. They would help with dressing changes and physiotherapy.
However, some patients may only require basic assistance such as making meals and housekeeping. If a patient only requires non-nursing care like meal preparation, then the home health care aides are invaluable. These aides are able to help with clothing, meal preparation, resource management and running errands. They are a worker in very high demand.
Basic training for this worker requires only a high school diploma or less, citizenship, and no criminal record. Many agencies train their own home health care workers. A nurse is often on staff to help teach basic procedures such as bathing and assisted walking. The training from these agencies can vary, as is the skills that are taught.
Specific jurisdictions may have different laws and requirements as the industry is not yet universal. As a home health care worker undergoes training, there will be various levels of certification achieved. One can progress up the ladder, building more and more certificates.
These are often paid for by the agency, so creating a true “on the job training” situation. Those levels of certification contribute to more and more knowledge, and some are even accepted as prior learning credit for certified professions like nursing assistant.
All serve as a fantastic stepping stone for workers wanting to move up the ladder, or those which options may be strictly limited in work opportunities. Because the demand for health care aides is so high, it may be expected that a national voice will speak for certification and regulation.
This is actually an unregulated profession, with a wide variety of expectations, pay scales, standards and scopes of practice. Every state has its own set of guidelines. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHH) is a resource for tying together many aspects of the industry from all across the nation. Their website is very helpful with job postings, articles current to the industry, and statistics.
The industry does suffer from a perception of low-skilled, barely fluent, grossly underpaid staff who are subjected to unknown conditions in the community. Perhaps one day such an association will speak nationally for these workers.