As part of the celebration of November as National Home Care and Hospice month, the National Association for Home Care (NAHC) recognized the second full week of November as Home Care Aide Week. These individuals are recognized for bringing personal warmth to the daily work of giving personal care. They play an invaluable role for their patients as caregivers, companions and friends.
Nurses and therapists can assist with medication administration, teaching and disease management. But many times, patients and caregivers do not know how to manipulate equipment, safely transfer a patient into a shower, give a bed bath, change a bed with a person in it, or turn and position a patient. “These tasks can be overwhelming,” says Susie Compton, RN, director of Hamilton Home Health and Hamilton Hospice. “A home health aide can be an invaluable ally to support families as they provide care to their loved ones.”
A home health aide is so much more than the person who gives a bath or straightens a room, according to Frances Lawrence, home health aide. “We are the eyes and ears for the nurses and therapists as well,” she says. “We can pick up on changes going on with a patient and report those changes to the patient’s nurse.”
Personal care is therapeutic, especially when it is provided with love and compassion. “A bath is not only a task listed on my assignment sheet, it is something I can do that can help a patient relax and feel so much better,” says Dee Underwood, hospice aide. “Washing someone’s hair, providing foot care or a back rub sometimes opens the door for that person to talk or express things they want or need to say. I enjoy getting to know each one of my patients.”
Rachelle Cherry, Home Health clinical manager, says working with aides allows the agency to detect and treat changes in vital signs, pain and functional ability.
“We have been blessed at this agency to have such caring people working as home health and hospice aides,” says Mary Greene, Home Health supervisor. “They not only care for the patient, they work with families and caregivers to teach them techniques to help patients be safer and feel more comfortable as they provide personal care.”