Demand Strong For Home Health Aides

By Staff
September 3, 2009

Demand for home health aides remains strong and is expected to increase as the population ages.

NY1 reports that being a home health aide requires few qualifications. Vivian Torres of SelfHelp Community Services in New York noted that getting started in the field requires "an elementary school education, an eighth-grade reading level and the ability to complete a training program by the Department of Health," which lasts several weeks.

Home health aides provide personal care and health-related services to a variety of patients who need more assistance than family or friends are able to provide. Some duties may include taking blood pressure, monitoring general health signs and keeping patients clean and comfortable.

"I think it's a stepping stone for them," said Margie Laracuent of SelfHelp Community Services about the profession. "I don't tell them it's a career. It opens doors for them. They can start off doing this training and there's so many other things for them to venture into, like become nurses."

Because of the few job requirements and flexible hours, the position can be ideal for college students. Marie Getz, for example, an art therapy graduate student at Naropa University in Colorado, works part-time four days a week as a home health aide. Her responsibilities include providing companionship to the elderly and helping them with tasks such as grocery shopping, meal preparation and household chores.

The job is not glamorous, but it helps her financially. "I'll have $60,000 in loans when I graduate," she explained to U.S. News & World Report. "If I didn't have this job, it would be a lot more."

US News notes that by 2016, home health aide positions are expected to grow by nearly 50 percent. "There will always be seniors," said Erin Albers, spokesperson for Home Instead's home office in Nebraska, "and they will always need caring for." College students make up about 20 percent of Home Instead caregivers.

For many, the benefits of the job extend far beyond pay and flexible hours. "When you work with elderly people, you hear their stories," said Karen Henry, a home health aide who was quoted by NY1. "I've worked with people from the Holocaust and it's pretty amazing what they lived through, so it's pretty great."

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