Home Care Aides
Home Care Aides (HCAs) are the front line caregivers for elders and the disabled residing in a variety of community settings including private homes, senior housing, and assisted living residences. They provide one-on-one supportive and personal care – everything from housecleaning to medical support – enabling people to live safely and comfortably in their own homes.
HCAs are selected on the basis of such factors as a sympathetic attitude toward the care of the sick, maturity, and ability to deal effectively with the demands of the job. They generally work without direct supervision from supervisory staff employed by their home care agency. Many home care aides find their work extremely rewarding.
To become an HCA, an individual must be able to read and write, communicate effectively with clients and agency staff, follow care plan directions and schedules, and pass a criminal background check.
In Massachusetts, there are three levels of HCAs that provide services to clients:
Homemakers (Home Care Aide I)
Homemakers provide assistance with tasks such as shopping, menu planning, meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping. Homemakers must complete 40 hours of training and participate in up to six hours of additional trainings each year to review their skills.
Personal Care Homemakers (Home Care Aide II)
Personal care homemakers assist clients with tasks such as bathing, dressing, foot care, denture care, shaving, eating, and ambulation. Personal care homemakers complete 60 hours of training and must also participate in up to six hours of additional trainings each year to review their skills.
Home Health Aides (Home Care Aide III)
Home health aides (HHAs) provide hands-on personal care, perform simple procedures as delegated by a nurse or therapist, offer assistance in ambulation and exercise, and provide assistance in administering medications that are ordinarily self-administered. Home health aides complete 75 hours of training and must take an additional 12 hours of in-service trainings each year.
Recognizing the importance of career development, many home care agencies have established career ladder training programs for their HCAs, who are encouraged to take advantage of educational opportunities. Many have gone on to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), or other professions within healthcare.
While HCAs are predominantly women, there is a strong need for men in this profession as well.
Benefits of Working as a HCA:
- Flexible schedule
- Satisfaction of forming personal relationships with clients, and helping them live independently
- Travel reimbursement
- Health insurance
- Paid time-off
- Career advancement opportunities
Projected need for Home Care Aides:
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, “home health aides and personal home care aides are predicted to be among the occupations with the largest job growth rate over the next decade.” Between 2004 and 2014, the number of home health aides is expected to increase 56 percent and the number of personal and home care aides is expected to grow 41 percent.
There are several paths that can be taken to become a nurse. You can become a LPN, an RN, or obtain your Bachelor’s in Nursing.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs take approximately one year to complete. In Massachusetts, an LPN’s scope of practice is limited to [[insert]] While it’s the quickest, least expensive track to becoming a nurse, it also offers fewer opportunities for advancement and lower salaries. Though LPNs often receive their licenses in the course of earning an associate degree, the certification does not require a degree.
Registered Nurse (RN)
A Registered Nurse (RN) is the next type of nurse that you can become. Typically, this takes approximately two years to achieve. Nurses who go through a RN program receive either a nursing certificate or an associate degree in nursing (ADN or ASN). Registered nurses can work in many areas and have a wide range of privileges. If you eventually want to enter management, education, or advanced practice, you’ll need a bachelors degree in additions to your RN and should enroll in a combined program (see below)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Those who earn their BSN often find themselves in high demand and available to start management-level careers. There are two tracks: either attend a four-year college program and recieve both a BSN and an RN license; or — for those already RNs — attend a BSN bridge program, which typically runs between 16 months and three years, depending on your time and needs.
Graduate degrees in nursing – both at the Masters (MSN) and Doctoral (DNP) levels – are also available.