A hospice home health aide, also commonly referred to as an HHA, is trained to provide personal care to patients in their own home environment.
Home health aides may be hired privately by patients or their families or provided directly by a home health or hospice agency. Home health aides from hospice and home health agencies may visit patients one to three days a week to provide thorough care. They interact with the patient and perform some variation of the above services during such visits. The home health aide may educate family members and other caregivers on patient care so that the families will feel comfortable providing day to day care to the patient between home health aide visits. Considering the frequency with which a home health aide and a patient interact, a strong bond between the two often develops.
Duties of a Home Health Aide
The care provided by a home health aide is based on individual patient need and typically includes:
- Shower, tub bath, or bed bath
- Shaving of the patient
- Dressing of the patient
- Washing hair of the patient
- Combing hair of the patient
- Oral care or denture care for the patient
- Help with toileting or incontinent care
- Care and cleaning of foley catheters
- Nail care for the patient
- Back rub/massage care
- Turning and repositioning bed bound patients
- Transferring from bed to chair or chair to bed
- Assistance with ambulating (walking)
- Range of motion exercises
- Changing bed sheets
- Light housekeeping
Home Health Aides Are Not Nurses
Although they do provide a certain type of care to patients, home health aides are not nurses and, therefore, they cannot provide any type of professional nursing care nor offer any medical advice to the patient or to the family and friends of the patient.
Home health aides follow a plan of care developed by a registered nurse (RN) who supervises the care provided by the home health aide. This means that an RN will likely be making joint visits with the home health aide from time to time in order to observe the care provided by the aide and to offer any further teaching if needed.
Coverage of Home Health Aides
A home health aide is a covered service under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, although the need for a home health aide must be clearly documented in order for the service to be covered. This may potentially mean that patients who are still independent and can care for themselves do not qualify for home health aide services. Typically, only individuals that cannot care for themselves in a most basic manner qualify for home health aide coverage.
If you have any questions about how you can obtain home health services, talk with your physician or case manager nurse.