Personal Caregiver and Homecare Aide Jobs
Also known as personal caregivers, attendants, or companions, personal and homecare aides work with the elderly, or with mentally or physically disabled people who require assistance to complete everyday chores and tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. Most personal and homecare aides work under supervision of a health care agency, registered nurse, or social worker.
Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Personal and Homecare Aide
Personal and homecare aides generally work in nursing homes, mental institutions, or private homes of elderly, disabled, or mentally challenged people. The work of a personal and homecare aide may include doing laundry, changing bed linens, shopping, planning and cooking meals, and accompanying their patients to doctor’s appointments and on other errands. Depending on the situation, a personal and homecare aide may also have to help his or her patient in getting up, dressing, bathing, and grooming.
A personal and homecare aide must also offer mental support and companionship. This means spending quality time with patients, talking to them, and generally interacting with them. In some cases, an aide may work solely with one patient for months, or even years, at a time. In others, an aide may visit multiple patients – up to four or five per day – on a regular basis.
General Requirements and Training
Being a personal and homecare aide requires immense amounts of patience, sympathy, and hard work. Official skills and training requirements for personal and homecare aides are minimal, and vary from state to state. Some states require formal training, generally available through vocational schools, community colleges, and home health care agencies, while other states require nothing more than on-the-job training.
Whether formal or on-the-job, training generally includes information on nutrition and cooking, measures to keep spaces safe and sanitary, and basic emergency medical care techniques. Individuals may opt to obtain certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), although this is not a requirement.
Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement
Special skill and training requirements to work as a personal and homecare aide are low and as a result, pay for personal and homecare aids is also quite low.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for personal and home care aides to be $19,180 as of May 2008.
The report also suggests that job prospects will be good; due to the relatively low pay, there is a lack of individuals interested in pursuing home care careers, and the turn-over rate is high. Payscale.com reports the average wage of a home care aid with one to four years of experience to be $8.40 to $11.30 hourly, compared to $9.33 to $14.96 for a home care aid with twenty or more years of experience.