A Day in the Life
What’s your current job and what does it require?
I’m a home health aide, which I’ve been doing for about a year and a half. But I’m training to become a CNA—and hopefully eventually a registered nurse or maybe a doctor.
My job is very hands-on. Every day I help my clients do the little things that you take for granted but that they couldn’t do without me, like bathing or eating or even getting up and sitting down.
How did you first get experience as a care worker?
I started off by helping my grandmother, who was recovering from breast cancer and needed a caregiver. She was really weak, but then she started getting better. A caregiver agency saw the work I had done to help her recover while I was on the job, and I applied with them to get other jobs as a caregiver. They liked me and started referring me to other patients and after a little while, I had 8 patients I was taking care of.
Aside from CPR training, I’ve learned basically everything I know by working and getting hands-on experience.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Many people think of this job as messy or difficult and it is hard, but I actually do enjoy some parts of it. The best part is when I get to build relationships with my clients. Usually, things starts out very difficult and many people don’t want to accept the help they need, but over time, you develop a relationship with them and you’re an important part of their life. It’s satisfying to hear a client say she’s so glad to see me when I walk in the door in the morning and that she doesn’t want me to leave when I walk out in the evening.
What’s most challenging?
To be honest, the pay isn’t good. I also almost never have enough hours to work in order to earn the money I need. That’s a big reason I’m studying to get my CNA certification and then hopefully get a nursing degree.
When you’re a home health aide, you’re literally working in someone’s home so you have to abide not just by health guidelines, but also by their own house rules, which can be strict. Most elderly people don’t live alone, so there’s also usually at least one other person, like a child or a spouse, looking over your shoulder. That can add some stress or conflict.
What’s your best advice to anyone considering becoming a home health aide?
Have patience—clients can be difficult at first, but it gets easier as you get used to each other and build a relationship. It can also take a while to get enough clients and hours to be making enough money.
I’d also encourage people to be honest with themselves about what they’re comfortable doing. For example, if you wouldn’t actually want to bathe or clean up after someone, then don’t apply for a job that might require that.