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Personal and Home Care Aides - Career Opportunities

Personal and Home Care Aides work in patients' homes and rooms, helping disabled, elderly, ill, and mentally disabled and disturbed persons live in their own homes or in residential care facilities. They provide housekeeping and routine personal care services, as well as instruction and psychological support to their patients. They may advise families and patients on nutrition, cleanliness, and household tasks.

Aides keep records of clients' conditions, and of services performed, and report to a supervisor who is often a registered nurse (RN). Aides assist and cooperate with health care professionals and other medical staff.

Personal and home care aides hold over 700,000 jobs. Most jobs are in home health care services; individual and family services; residential care facilities; and private households. Self-employed aides arrange work schedules, payment, etc., on their own. In some states, one need only receive on-the-job training, which generally is provided by employers. In other states formal training may be required. This is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies.

National certification is offered by The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Certification is a voluntary demonstration that the individual has met industry standards. One must complete a standard 75-hour course and written exam developed by NAHC. Home care aides seeking certification are evaluated on 17 different skills by a registered nurse.

State mandated tests such as for tuberculosis may be required as part of a physical examination. Criminal background checks are also sometimes required for employment.

Personal and home care aides must be able to:

help people and not mind hard work.
be responsible, compassionate, emotionally stable, and cheerful.
be tactful, honest, and discreet.
work independently.
follow detailed instructions.
lift patients without straining or injuring themselves.

Because of rapid employment growth and high replacement needs excellent job opportunities are expected. Job growth for personal and home care aides is projected to grow much faster than average for all U.S. occupations.

How Much Do Personal and Home Care Aides Earn?

Average hourly earnings for personal and home care aides were $8.12 in May 2004. Pay ranged from less than $5.93 per hour up to more than $10.87 an hour.

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