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Home Health Aides: The Fastest Growing Career in the U.S.

Home Health Aides: The Fastest Growing Career in the U.S.

With aging older generations, improvements in care, and more accessibility to affordable medical insurance,  the demand for home health aides is on on track to outpace every other job in the United States for the foreseeable future!

 The Growth of Home Health Care

Home health care is an exploding industry due to the demand created through a confluence of two factors: the improved quality of healthcare is affording us a longer average lifespan and population growth. Currently it is the aging baby-boomer generation causing and elderly contributing the most to demand, but following generations will likely continue this trend.

Home health aide percent change in employment

Take into account that most older people would much rather have a healthcare professional come to their home and take care of their needs rather than uprooting themselves and moving into an assisted living facility and it's easy to see why this career has a predicted job growth rate of 40%, and is expected to continue rising as demand struggles to be met with willing and qualified home health professionals. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is currently predicting an increase from 1.26 million home healthcare workers in 2014 to a whopping 2.02 million by 2024!

However, while this may be field with the highest growth among all jobs in the U.S., it takes a very special type of person to pick up the job and be successful. Before jumping head-first into becoming a home health aide, be sure you know yourself well enough to foresee whether this is the right career for you.

What Do Home Health Aides Do?

Home health care professionals work to ensure that clients who can no longer adequately take care of themselves are properly looked after by managing their daily lives for them. They take care of those who with debilitating illnesses, disabilities, or cognitive impairments that impeded on their daily lives.

They may provide basic health care services like checking temperatures and pulses, reapply bandages or dressings, give massages, help with artificial limbs and check respiration rates, but must defer to other healthcare professionals like qualified physicians for more serious issues.

Additionally, home health aides work to:

  • Assist clients with everyday personal tasks like dressing, bathing, etc.
  • Housekeeping like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and doing laundry.
  • Managing client schedules and ensuring they make the appointments they need.
  • Arranging transportation when necessary.
  • Shopping for the client's necessities.

Where Home Health Aides Work

You guessed it! Home care aides work directly in the home of the clients that hire them while under the supervision of licensed medical professionals - usually nurses. Due to the nature of the position and reliance on government funding, home care and hospice agencies must adhere to established regulations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aide workplaces are divided as follows:

  • 45% work for home healthcare services/agencies
  • 23% work for services for the elderly or disabled
  • 10% work for continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities.
  • 6% work for residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities
  • 3% work for nursing care facilities

How Much Are Home Healthcare Workers Paid?

Less than they should be, in our opinion. Home care aides qualify as a low-skill position in the industry and come with the price tag to match. The national average salary for a home health worker as of May 2016 was only $22,500 but, with increasing demand, salaries are likely to increase moving forward. By how much, however, is not currently known.

Home health aide personal care aide median annual wages

According to the BLS, median annual wages differ based on the environment that the individual finds themselves working:

  • $23,570 - Nursing care facilities
  • $22,860 - Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities
  • $22,510 - Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities
  • $22,410 - Services for the elderly and the disabled
  • $22,390 - Home healthcare services

Summary

Home health aides and personal care assistants are increasingly becoming a more integral part of the U.S. healthcare system and, with this trend only projected to continue into the future, the salary and benefits they're offered should increase incrementally. However, in our opinion, this isn't happening fast enough.

Although the profession is of relatively low-skill in the healthcare industry, the staggering demand should be enough to raise incentives enough to attract qualified and professional home care professionals.