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Celebrating the Critical Role Aides Play in Home Care and Hospice

This week, November 14 – 20, we celebrate Home Health Aide Week. Home health aides are a critical part of the health care at home industry. Home health aides provide assistance with basic daily living tasks, including light housekeeping, preparing meals, personal care services, and companionship.

“The aide is the center of the care we provide in the home. We rely on them. They are the ones that know what’s going on in the home,” explained Terra Hammond, Administrator at Interim Healthcare in Zanesville, OH.

OCHCH Regulatory Affairs Director, Beth Foster, RN, BA, CPHQ, CEHCH, added, “They are our eyes and ears. Patients and caregivers will talk to the aide more than the nurses or therapists. Their observations and reporting play an important role in caring for the patient.”

Patients often develop close relationships with their caregivers. Hammond explained, “Sometimes our home care workers are the only people they see.”

“They are with them day-in and day-out,” added Janet Woodward, Director of Healthcare Services for Interim HealthCare in Zanesville.

Despite the important role aides play in the care of our most vulnerable citizens, recruiting and retaining aides in Ohio and across the nation is becoming difficult, even as the need for caregivers increases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, home health aides are one of the fastest growing professions, with an increase of 47% expected between 2016 and 2026. Personal care aides are expected to increase at a rate of 39% as well.

“We need to recruit and retain more home health aides to take care of all of us baby boomers,” explained Foster.

When asked about recruitment and retention, Hammond stated, “It’s our biggest struggle.”

“I think the biggest challenge is competing with other industries and even other parts of healthcare to attract and retain talented individuals,” explained Joe Russell, OCHCH Executive Director.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s report, the median income for a home health aide is $23,200 per year or less than $12 per hour.

“The pay isn’t substantial, but the contributions home health aides make is significant,” commented Russell.

Interim HealthCare of Zanesville alone employs approximately 150 home health aides. Hammond estimates her company has more than 450 aides working throughout the Cambridge region. To recruit employees, she receives support from the corporate office, attends job fairs, and holds open interviews.

Hammond said her home health aides are often single moms and members of the younger generation. Interim HealthCare just launched a new “Retired-to-hired” campaign to recruit older adults into the profession as well.

To help providers recruit employees, OCHCH offers a Career Center on our website at www.ochch.org. At this job site, agencies can post their open positions, manage applications, and search candidate resumes. Posting rates start at only $125, and OCHCH members receive one free posting on the site per year.

OCHCH Hospice Regulatory Director, Kathy Royer summed up the important role aides provide in the care continuum by stating, “Through compassionate care and dedication, they provide personal care to patients and support the patient’s family.”

OCHCH would like to thank all of those that provide services to allow people to live at home while receiving care.

By Lynette Cox, Marketing & Communications Director