Care Givers Blog

Familiy Care Givers Now - Caring for Family

5 Things to Look For in a Home Health Worker

Looking to hire help for your elderly parent? Guest blogger Vivian Geary, founder and CEO of Caring for Family Caregivers, breaks down the 5 things to look for in a home health worker.


Senior and young holding hands

Be specific and comprehensive in describing what needs to be done for your loved one. Before you can hire anyone to work in your home, you need to create a job description. What needs to be done in terms of personal care, medical assistance, companion care, chores, errands and cooking in your home? Write these down so that you can make sure each of your candidates are willing and able to complete the tasks that you require.

What type of help are you looking for? Home health workers come with different skills. A home health aide or personal care aide is a person who will assist with activities of daily living for your loved one. They can help with bathing and bathroom functions, feeding, grooming, medication reminders and some housework. They can also help clients make and keep appointments with doctors, provide or arrange transportation and serve as a companion for their clients.

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can do everything that a home health aide can do and they are trained in some basic medical procedures such as taking a temperature or taking blood pressure. Many CNA’s will have worked in a nursing home prior to doing private homecare. In many places in the US, a CNA that works in a hospital is called a Patient Care Technician. Same job duties, different working environment. CNA’s and Patient Care Tech’s can both work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse to make sure that they are accurate in medically working with patients.

A person with more advanced medical needs may need skilled nursing visits at home. Many times, the orders for skilled nursing will come from a doctor and a specific local agency that works with the physician will be requested to make weekly or daily home visits. These visits are brief and specific to the medical concern that the orders were written for.

Based on how long they have been in their field and where they have worked in the past, you will know how much experience they have in taking care of others who have the same medical profile as your loved one. For example if you are looking for someone to help with your elderly, wheelchair bound parent, you want to look for someone who has worked in a nursing home environment with patients that have had the same medical needs. The person who has worked with high functioning, special needs young adults in a group home may not be the right person for you to hire. Even though they have experience, it may not be what would be best for your loved one.

Communication is Key. In order to feel comfortable leaving someone alone with your most highly respected and loved family member, you need some reassurances. You should make sure that there are no hindrances or barriers to communication. Make sure that there are no language barriers that make understanding and following directions difficult. If you have pets, make sure that the potential employee isn’t afraid or allergic to the animals that you have. There should be an understanding that the things you require done can be done by the person that you want to hire. And there need to be clear cut guidelines in terms of how things operate in your home. Home health workers are responsible for cleaning all areas that their patient uses. For example, if they assist with bathing, then they should clean the bathroom afterwards. Or if they make breakfast or lunch, they are to clean the preparation area and the dishes that were used to prepare the meal and those used by the patient to eat the meal.

Negotiate a Rate. Rates vary from place to place for home health workers.   The average rate range for a Home Health Aide is between $8.50 and $9.75 per hour. And the average rate range for a Certified Nursing Assistant is between $10.50 and $15.00 per hour. If you are hiring through an agency, expect to pay up to $10.00 more per hour to cover the agency’s overhead. And based on how many hours you require, you may even be able to negotiate a rate with an agency.

Do a Test Run. Once you find a person that interviews well and is amenable to working the schedule you have proposed with the duties you want them to perform, have them come in for a training shift. That way, you get a feel for how they will interact with your loved one, if they can handle the job responsibilities, and if they will mesh with your own personal household madness. Then, ask your loved one what they thought of that person. Take their feelings into consideration. After all, they will be spending a lot of time with this person. Then, compare how you thought they did to how they fulfilled your job description.

If you don’t find the personality, energy level, and comfort level that you and your loved one are looking for, try another candidate. More people are going into this field every day and there are lots of seasoned professionals with different levels of experience for you to choose from. Good luck with your search!