A home health aide performs an important service to their clients. They provide part-time to round-the-clock assistance to seniors or others who are ill or injured. In-home care might include respite care to give the regular caregiver a break. It could include medicine reminders for a client who is recovering from surgery. Sometimes an aide is there to provide companionship to clients who live alone. If you enjoy helping others, you are a good candidate to become a home health aide.
To make you even better at caring for your client, follow the tips below:
1. Don’t Go It Alone
There are no educational or training requirements for becoming an in-home caregiver. Anyone can advertise their services and go straight to work. The problem with this approach is that you won’t know what you’re doing. Caring for an aging or injured adult isn’t the same as caring for a child. Although you won’t provide their medical care, many will require medical treatment from an in-home nurse. You need to know what to expect from the patient, their medications, and what they can and can’t do themselves. For example, an aging patient with dementia might not be able to dispense their own medications.
Even if you take a training program, getting started is difficult. People tend to be careful about hiring someone to care for their loved ones. They want to know what kind of person you are and what kind of background you have. That’s just one of the benefits of working for an in-home agency. They can conduct background checks, train you in their methods of giving care, and provide the credentials you need to demonstrate a good reputation as a caregiver.
Another advantage is having the support of a knowledgeable agency behind you when you need it. If you have a situation that you aren’t sure how to handle, you can call. You never have to feel like you are on your own.
An agency has a system; a method of hiring and training the aides who work for them. They screen their workers and develop a range of services they offer to their clients. If you meet their qualifications, they work with you to prepare for the job. When you arrive to care for your first client, you’ll be ready and confident.
2. Take Notes
From day one of working for the agency, start writing down everything. Every client and each situation is different. You need to understand and remember to follow every detail of the client’s care plan. Dietary limitations, medication reminders, or appointments are important things that are essential to your client’s care. Even those details that seem simple and easy to remember should be recorded. As the client’s plan begins to grow, there’s going to be a lot more details to remember. Some of the services you may provide include:
- Bathing/showering assistance
- Laundry and ironing
- Companionship, socializing, conversation
- Assistance with walking
- Prescription pick-up
- Arrange and facilitate appointments
- Prepare grocery lists
- Assist with personal hygiene
- Visiting neighbors and friends
- Transfer using Hoyer lift or gait belt
- Care and support with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
3. Stay Organized
Putting tasks off is the first step towards getting disorganized. Instead, organize the tasks you have throughout the day according to priority. Schedule those that are most important first. Fill in the rest where there’s time. Others need to be fitted in. Start by listing the essentials first and then fit everything else in where there’s time.
Spend some time planning out your day before you arrive at your client’s home. Makes notes about what you will need and when you will need it. Keep all your supplies on-hand so you don’t have to spend time looking for them. Get a large tote bag to carry supplies and keep them together. Figure out ways to group tasks together. Maybe you can let the dog out while you’re in the kitchen preparing meals. Run out for groceries while dropping off the dry cleaning. The more you can do at one time, the more effective you will be as a home health aide.
4. Always Go the Extra Mile
You should never feel limited to the tasks on your client’s care plan. Sometimes they may want you to do something that isn’t included. Others, they won’t want to do what is on the schedule. It’s easy for someone who is aging, suffering from dementia, or dealing with an injury to feel frustrated or depressed. Always remember that you are there for them. Treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Take the time to have a real conversation with them. Maybe they want someone to watch TV with or to read them a book. Some patients need emotional support as much as they do physical support.
5. Get on the Same Page
Take an interest in the client’s feelings and needs. Give them choices whenever possible. You can help them pick out clothing but let the final decision be theirs. If they have a hobby or interest, ask them about it.
If your client has dementia or Alzheimer’s, don’t avoid having conversations with them. During the early stages of the disease, they experience minimal memory problems. Most are still able to communicate if you know how to help them. Every day that they are still able to communicate with another person is a good one for them.
Becoming a home health aid is gratifying. It allows you to make other people’s lives better. But it is also challenging and, sometimes, overwhelming. Everyone isn’t a good candidate to become an in-home aide. Some of the qualities that you should have include:
– Patience – Your clients are going to be ill, disabled, confused, and sometimes in pain. Seniors with dementia often act out in anger and confusion. Their behaviors can change at a moment’s notice. They may want to hug you one minute and strike out to hit you the next. Even those recovering from injuries can become angry or depressed. It takes a lot of patience to handle every situation that the client throws at you. No matter how bad things get, you need the patience to return their emotions with a genuine smile.
– Compassion – It takes skill to understand something another person is going through that you have never experienced first-hand. When your client acts out at you and won’t cooperate, will you have the compassion to understand?
– Ability to Focus – If your idea of caring for your client is to sit idly by and text on your cell phone, you aren’t the right person for the job. Your client should be your central focus from the time you arrive at their home until you leave. If the client becomes distraught, withdrawn, or depressed, you need to spot those changes quickly. It isn’t enough to look at them; you need to be able to really see any changes that take place.
– Be Trustworthy – You are in another person’s home. Everything that they own and hold dear is probably there too. The client needs to know that they can trust you to perform your duties and not breach the trust they have placed in you. Often, it is the client’s family members who have hired you to care for their loved one. If you can’t be trusted in any setting, this isn’t a good job choice for you.
– Dependability – Even though your schedule or your tasks change, one thing stays the same. Your client needs you to be there when you are requested. Their needs don’t take a holiday, and neither should you. The client, their medical caregivers, and their families are all counting on you. If you can’t be there every time you are needed, you shouldn’t be there at all.
Is Being an In-Home Health Aide a Good Career Choice?
One of the factors that makes any career choice a good one is its potential to remain in demand. The growing number of people becoming seniors in this country is one reason home health care is a booming business. Another is that more of these seniors are making the decision to stay at home. As a result, home health aides are increasing in demand. That demand is only expected to grow in the future.
Money is an issue for most people, and those considering being caregivers are no different. No one is going to make their fortune as an in-home aide. The fact that it doesn’t require special education or training prevents it from being on par with a high-paying professional position. But those same traits are what make it a perfect choice for some people. Many caregivers make a good salary by getting jobs with leading in-home care agencies.
If you aren’t a good candidate to be a home health aide, then even the best-paid positions aren’t for you. Those aides who really love what they do embrace the good moments and make the best of those that aren’t so great.
A growing number of people are also taking on the job of caregiver for their loved ones. They take on all of the responsibilities without getting paid. In many cases, they don’t get appreciated by the rest of the family members. When they spend a lot of their time caring for their loved one, they often become ill. Stress and burnout are very real problems. Too often, people find out the hard way that being a caregiver isn’t the right choice for them.
What Is the Best Solution?
Most people who care for their loved ones have an emotional burden that makes the job more difficult. They can often hire a trained home health aide and get better care for their loved one. This also takes the impact off their own emotional and physical well-being.
Many seniors would be unable to stay in their own homes without a caregiver. At the same time, many don’t want to be a burden on their family. As a home health aide provider, you offer a solution for the client and the caregiver. Your training and skills make you more efficient at caring for their loved one.
A trained home caregiver is the best solution, regardless of which side of the situation you are on. Too often, families have problems agreeing on the best approach to care for a loved one. Others have heard horror stories about getting the wrong caregiver who failed at their job for a variety of reasons. If you want to be a better caregiver, the best tip is to want to help your client. Understand the expectations and challenges going in. Try to build a real connection with your client and have a positive impact on every moment of every day.
A good home health aid agency understands the value of the relationship between caregiver and client. They know how important it is to their clients to help them maintain their independence and keep living in their own homes. Providing trained, professional, and compassionate caregivers is just the first step. They need to match the caregiver to the client on every level. The caregiver should become a close, trusted friend who the client knows they can depend on.
Keeping the same caregiver with the client is always the best approach. This encourages a bond between them, increasing the client’s feelings of trust and security. Placing the right home health aide into the home will relieve stress and make every day a better one for everyone involved.
San Diego Compassionate Caregivers is a unique home health aide agency which provides custom care plans. We know that every client has unique needs. Our caregivers are compassionate, trained, and trustworthy. We make sure that the caregiver you hire is right for your loved one.
If you need compassionate care for your loved one, contact us to learn more about our services. If you’d like to work as a home health aide and make a difference in someone’s life, submit our online application for employment. We’re here to bring together the perfect match between caregiver and client.