The baby-boomer generation is aging, and many boomers are retiring to their homes to enjoy their sunset years. At this age, they are also very vulnerable to injuries and disabilities. Home care assistants or aides provide a range of non-health-related personal and home support services to these seniors. A caring hand and a genuine love for the elderly are some of the competencies you need to join this profession.
1. What Do Home Care Assistants Do?
Their duties include:
- Helping their clients to perform tasks such as bathing and dressing
- Performing housekeeping duties such as doing the dishes, vacuuming the home and doing laundry
- Running errands, such as posting letters and settling bills, on behalf of their clients
- Purchasing groceries and other household items
- Preparing and serving meals
- Accompanying clients to church or other events
- Keeping clients active by taking them outdoors
2. Work Environment
The work schedules for home care assistants vary from job to job. While some work with one client from morning to evening, others work with several clients in various locations through the day. There are also others who work on a shift basis, as some clients need round-the-clock support.
The job is physically demanding, as many household chores require a good amount of energy and stamina. Prepare to spend most of the time on your feet standing, bending or walking.
According to Salary.com, home care aides earn an average annual salary of $22,508.
4. Entry Requirements
You generally don’t need any professional training to become a home care assistant. All you need is a high school diploma and some housekeeping experience to get the job.
Many employers also provide on-the-job training to help beginning home care assistants get started. One of the most important skills that home care assistants are usually trained in is CPR in case of a medical emergency.
There are also some commercial training providers who offer home support and personal worker programs that can improve your competence and ready you for employment.
5. Important Qualities
The skills and abilities you need to succeed as a home care assistant include:
- Strong time management skills
- Keen observation skills
- A keen attention to small details
- Physical stamina
- Emotional stability
- Strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds
- Strong communication skills
- An awareness of client confidentiality issues
- Good multitasking skills
- Good organizational skills
6. Career Advancement
As a home care assistant, you may be able to advance to the position of home care supervisor. To get here, you need several years of experience as a home care assistant.
You can also obtain the Certified Home Care and Hospice Executive credential from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice to fast-track you advancement into a supervisory position.
Often, a home care assistant job serves as a springboard to entry-level healthcare professions. For example, combining your home care experience with an associate degree in health studies can open doors for employment as a health promoter, where your job will be to educate the elderly on healthy living practices.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of home care assistants include:
- Residential care facilities
- Assisted-living centers
- Providers of home care services
- Social services agencies
- Individual clients (the people who need home care help)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for personal care and service workers including home care aides will increase by 35 percent through 2020, significantly faster than the average for all jobs.
So if you want to work with the elderly, and you want a job that doesn’t require post-secondary training, then this could be it.