The job outlook for home healthcare positions is excellent. Demand for the job is growing much faster than average, at over 50 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This alone represents an additional half a million or more jobs by 2018.

Home healthcare is usually considered a stepping stone to a higher level career in the health industry. While it doesn’t require a great deal of education, the job demands a sufficient amount of training for people who are passionate about helping others. Healthcare aides who have made positive contribution to the lives of people they care for find their jobs very rewarding.

Overview of a Home Healthcare Position
Home healthcare assistants work either as personal care aides or home health aides. Both are in the service of helping the elderly, disabled, or chronically ill improve or maintain their quality of life.

Personal care aides usually help patients with any personal care task such as bathing, grooming and dressing. They also tend to light housekeeping duties such as cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning and laundry. Additionally, they may be required to organize a patient’s schedule, run important errands, accompany a patient who lives alone and help find recreational opportunities.

Home health aides share all of these aforementioned tasks. Additionally they perform the following healthcare duties, among others:

  • give medications
  • take vital signs
  • perform dressing changes

They may work in hospice care programs and residential care facilities, and assist with very basic medical tasks. They also typically work directly in a patient’s home equipped with basic medical equipment. Some work with several patients for a few hours per day or week; others work full time with a single patient. They may even be required to work on weekends or in the evening, depending on the needs of the patient or the agency.

Basic Training Requirements and Certification
Some states don’t require a formal education for home care assistants but many of them at least have a high school diploma or GED. Some states do require formal classes, many of which are available at community colleges, private health training academies and vocational or technical schools.

Much of the training is received at work since the nature of the job difference from patient to patient. New healthcare assistants are usually guided by another trained assistant, a nurse or a certified home health aide. Agencies or employers may also offer classes in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other specialized trainings to help trainees acquire much-needed skills and perform specific tasks before they can begin work.

What about licenses and certifications? Home healthcare aides don’t need licenses. But they may have to complete a certification process that comprises about 75 hours of additional training. Agencies and employers depend on the National Association for Home Care and Hospice for the certification process.

Personal care aides don’t have to get certified.
Opportunities for a Higher Level Career
The job of a home care assistant demands a lot of physical strength and emotional stamina. By acquiring more skills and experience, home health aides can definitely advance in their career. They may consider health careers in medical assisting or nursing, both of which requires formal education. They may also teach or train new home care assistants or students.

While the term “home” is attached to the occupation’s title, not all home care assistants work in a patient’s home. They can grow their career in nursing care facilities and community centers as well. Facilities, in fact, tend to pay more than in home care services.

There’s a growing demand for highly skilled and competent health care assistants in the country. This is mostly due to the increasing population of elderly people needing care. If you’re considering a career as an assistant, be sure to get a certification. Jobs are always available for certified home health aides.