While many of the health professions featured in Health
Care Job Explosion are utilized in home health care, Personal and Home Care
Aides are specific to the field. Home health aides—who provide health-related
services, rather than mainly housekeeping and routine personal care—are
discussed in the statement on nursing,
psychiatric, and home health aides.
Personal and home care aides help elderly, disabled, ill, and mentally
disabled persons live in their own homes or in residential care facilities
instead of in health facilities. Most personal and home care aides work with
elderly or physically or mentally disabled clients who need more extensive
personal and home care than family or friends can provide. Some aides work with
families in which a parent is incapacitated and small children need care. Others
help discharged hospital patients who have relatively short-term needs.
Personal and home care aides—also called homemakers, caregivers, companions, and
personal attendants—provide housekeeping and routine personal care services.
They clean clients’ houses, do laundry, and change bed linens. Aides may plan
meals (including special diets), shop for food, and cook. Aides also may help
clients get out of bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Some accompany clients to
doctors’ appointments or on other errands.
Personal and home care aides provide instruction and psychological support to
their patients. They may advise families and patients on nutrition, cleanliness,
and household tasks. Aides also may assist in toilet training a severely
mentally handicapped child, or they may just listen to clients talk about their
In home health care agencies, a registered nurse, physical therapist, or social
worker assigns specific duties and supervises personal and home care aides.
Aides keep records of services performed and of clients’ condition and progress.
They report changes in the client’s condition to the supervisor or case manager.
In carrying out their work, aides cooperate with health care professionals,
including registered nurses, therapists, and other medical staff.
The personal and home care aide’s daily routine may vary. Aides may go to the
same home every day for months or even years. However, most aides work with a
number of different clients, each job lasting a few hours, days, or weeks. Aides
often visit four or five clients on the same day.
Surroundings differ from case to case. Some homes are neat and pleasant, whereas
others are untidy and depressing. Some clients are pleasant and cooperative;
others are angry, abusive, depressed, or otherwise difficult.
Personal and home care aides generally work on their own, with periodic visits
by their supervisor. They receive detailed instructions explaining when to visit
clients and what services to perform for them. About one-third of aides work
part time, and some work weekends or evenings to suit the needs of their
Aides are individually responsible for getting to the client’s home. They may
spend a good portion of the working day traveling from one client to another.
Because mechanical lifting devices that are available in institutional settings
are seldom available in patients’ homes, aides must be careful to avoid
overexertion or injury when they assist clients.
Personal and home care aides held about 701,000 jobs in 2004. The majority of
jobs were in home health care services; individual and family services;
residential care facilities; and private households. Self employed aides have no
agency affiliation or supervision and accept clients, set fees, and arrange work
schedules on their own.
In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training,
which generally is provided by most employers. Other states may require formal
training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder
care programs, and home health care agencies. The National Association for Home
Care and Hospice (NAHC) offers national certification for personal and home care
aides. Certification is a voluntary demonstration that the individual has met
industry standards. Certification requires the completion of a standard 75-hour
course and written exam developed by NAHC. Home care aides seeking certification
are evaluated on 17 different skills by a registered nurse.
Personal and home care aides should have a desire to help people and not mind
hard work. They should be responsible, compassionate, emotionally stable, and
cheerful. In addition, aides should be tactful, honest, and discreet because
they work in private homes. Aides also must be in good health. A physical
examination, including state man-dated tests such as those for tuberculosis, may
be required. A criminal background check also may be required for employment.
Additionally, personal and home care aides are responsible for their own
transportation to reach patients’ homes.
Advancement for personal and home care aides is limited. In some agencies,
workers start out performing homemaker duties, such as cleaning. With experience
and training, they may take on personal care duties. Some aides choose to
receive additional training to become nursing and home health aides, licensed
practical nurses, or registered nurses. Some experienced personal and home care
aides may start their own home care agency.
Excellent job opportunities are expected for this occupation, because rapid
employment growth and high replacement needs are projected to produce a large
number of job openings.
Employment of personal and home care aides is projected to grow much faster than
average for all occupations through the year 2014. The number of elderly people,
an age group characterized by mounting health problems and requiring some
assistance with daily activities, is projected to rise substantially. In
addition to the elderly, other patients, such as the mentally disabled, will
increasingly rely on home care. This trend reflects several developments,
including efforts to contain costs by moving patients out of hospitals and
nursing care facilities as quickly as possible; the realization that treatment
can be more effective in familiar rather than clinical surroundings; and the
development and improvement of medical technologies for in-home treatment.
In addition to job openings created by the increase in demand for these workers,
replacement needs are expected to lead to many open-ings. The relatively low
skill requirements, low pay, and high emotional demands of the work result in
high replacement needs. For these same reasons, many people are reluctant to
seek jobs in the occupation. There-fore, persons who are interested in and
suited for this work—particularly those with experience or training as personal
care, home health, or nursing aides—should have excellent job prospects.
Median hourly earnings of personal and home care aides were $8.12 in May
2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $6.83 and $9.70 an hour. The lowest
10 percent earned less than $5.93, and the highest 10 percent earned more than
$10.87 an hour. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest
numbers of personal and home care aides in May 2004 were as follows: Residential
mental retardation, mental health and substance abuse facilities, $9.09;
Vocational rehabilitation services, $8.76; Community care facilities for the
elderly, $8.49; Individual and family services, $8.48;Home health care services,
Most employers give slight pay increases with experience and added
responsibility. Aides usually are paid only for the time they work in the home,
not for travel time between jobs. Employers often hire on-call hourly workers
and provide no benefits.
Additional Personal and Home Care Aide career and job resources are presented in the paperback
Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this
occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs,
Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites.
Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can
purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our
toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). Also available at all major
bookstores. Also explore jobs at VA hospitals and other
federal government employment options.
American Association for HomeCare - 625 Slaters Ave., Suite 200, Alexandria,
Virginia 22314; 703/836-6263. (http://aahomecare.org/,
firstname.lastname@example.org) This is a national trade association that represents all
the elements of the home care industry. The web site has directories of home
health care providers, consultants and state associations in the US and Canada.
Home Health Provider.com This site has well-designed job searches and lets
you research industry sectors and post your résumé. (http://www.homehealthprovider.com/)
It provides news, employer profiles, a school finder, career videos, magazines,
salary surveys, and job seeker resources, such as résumé advice.
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NAAAA) - 1730 Rhode Island
Avenue, Washington, DC 20036; 202/872-0888. (http://www.n4a.org/)
The NAAAA represents a majority of the more than 660 area agencies on aging
(contact via Links section). The Elder-care Locator (http://www.eldercare.gov)
provides free information on more than 4800 service providers, such as adult day
care, personal care, senior housing and home health care. Search the web site
for a local agency on aging by city, county or zip code. The Eldercare Locator,
800/677-1116, is available weekdays, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm (ET).
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