Caregivers come from all walks of life. Doctors and nurses may be the frontline medical providers that people encounter most frequently, but many others do their part to maintain the well-being of individuals, including home health aides (HHA).

Home health aides, sometimes called personal care aides, assist people with activities of daily life. HHAs typically help a person who may need some assistance with tasks they cannot perform due to illness or disability. They may work in a person’s home, in a group home, or in another care facility.

HHAs are considered health care paraprofessionals and must meet established training requirements, which vary by location. They may perform duties such as assisting with personal care, including dressing, toileting, feeding, and moving from bed to chair; checking vital signs; monitoring a client; performing light housekeeping, meal planning, and cooking; picking up prescriptions; and companionship. HHAs typically do not provide skilled nursing care and may not be able to offer recommendations on treatment or medications.

Individuals can find the services of HHAs who may work independently or are placed through agencies. Sometimes a doctor or hospital will have connections to HHA services and can make referrals. It can be useful to interview several potential HHAs to find one who will fit with the needs and personality of the person requiring assistance. A good HHA will be compassionate, patient, and flexible. As illness or injury also can affect a person’s mood, HHAs must be able to adjust if a client is reluctant to receive help or is depressed or anxious from his or her limitations.

Home health aides serve vital roles in the health care community by providing care and companionship to those who can no longer live independently.