Geriatric aides or home health care aides work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and private residences. They are responsible for providing care to elderly patients who are too ill, cognitively impaired or physically disabled to care for themselves. Aides should be experienced and well-trained. Compassion, patience and physical stamina are important attributes, too.
Duties and Responsibilities
Home health care aides are responsible for the health and emotional well-being of their patients. They assist patients with daily personal tasks, such as bathing; arrange appointments and transportation; run errands; and prepare meals. They are responsible for administering medications and may perform light housekeeping. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most aides work in private residences. Some aides work with patients a few hours per week, while others spend entire days with their patients.
Most health care aides are not required to have any formal education, but a high school diploma is required. Aides are typically trained on the job by more experienced caretakers, and some facilities require aides to take a competency exam before being allowed to work. Some states require training from a vocational school, community college or elder care program.
Agencies that receive reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare must ensure that all workers meet the minimum level of training and that all caretakers pass a competency evaluation or are state-certified. Additional requirements for certification may vary by state. Aides can obtain voluntary certification through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Certification requires 75 hours of formal training, passing 17 competency skill demonstrations and taking a written exam. Although NAHC certification isn't required, many employers prefer certified applicants.
In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the median annual wage for home health care aides to be $20,560. The lowest 10 percent earned a median salary of $16,300 a year, while the highest 10 percent earned $29,390 a year.