Duties of a Home Health Aide
The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) allows qualifying Medicaid recipients to hire a friend or family member as a personal care assistant. Personal care assistants help with the necessary daily tasks that allow a person to continue living independently rather than in an assisted living facility. Traditionally, these duties would be performed by either a paid aide assigned through an agency or a (usually unpaid) friend or family member.
Home care agencies provide four distinct types of aide for different levels of care: homemaker, personal care aide, home health aide, and nurse. Homemakers and personal care aides are restricted from doing most routine medical procedures. These types of aides can only perform “unskilled” tasks. Meanwhile, a home health aide may do certain things considered “semi-skilled,” while only a nurse can performed any required “skilled” tasks. To be legally able to perform semi-skilled and skilled tasks, home health aides and nurses must go through special training that homemakers and personal care aides do not.
In contrast to the traditional home care agency model, CDPAP has a single designation of “personal assistant.” Personal assistants are legally permitted to perform skilled and semi-skilled duties when the patient (or designated representative) assumes responsibility for training and supervision. Like family members, CDPAP assistants are exempt from regulations to which agency aides must adhere.
If you are considering becoming an aide for a loved one through CDPAP or if you need help yourself, you may be curious about which tasks a home health aide is expected to perform.
What does a home health aide do?
Traditional home health aides assist with the “activities of daily living,” which are defined as mobility, hygiene, and nutrition. The exact tasks vary and will depend on the patient’s particular needs and preferences. CDPAP aides especially focus on individualized care, paying close attention to the patient’s requests. For example, a visually impaired person may ask an aide to arrange items a certain way on the table when dining, while someone with mobility issues may just need the meal to be prepared.
A home health aide is responsible for some or all of the following tasks:
- Cooking is one of the most common things a home health aide is requested to do. Even relatively ambulatory patients may not be able to stand long enough to safely prepare a healthy balanced meal. Depending on preference, the patient may guide a home care aide through a recipe step by step.
- A patient may need assistance eating, which ranges from cutting the food up into manageable pieces to bringing an eating utensil up to the person’s mouth.
- Personal hygiene is another routine duty for home health aides. If necessary, aides will assist with bathing, using the toilet, and changing wound care dressings that don’t require medication.
- A patient may need help with different aspects of dressing, which can range from laying out outfits to physically putting garments on.
- A person who either has impaired mobility or cannot drive may ask an aide to go shopping and perform other errands like banking.
- An aide may assist with walking outside the home. Someone who can otherwise walk with a mobility aide may need additional assistance to navigate the front steps. Even those with the ability to go out may be reluctant to walk alone in case of a fall or other accident.
- A major responsibility of a home health aide is doing household chores. Cleaning and laundry are common tasks.
- An aide can remind a patient of when to take medications or help with pills but only if they’ve already been sorted into a medication box.
What can a CDPAP aide do that an agency aide can’t?
With traditional agency-directed home care, multiple personnel are necessary to carry out routine tasks. This can at times lead to dangerous miscommunications. CDPAP personal assistants streamline home care by taking on additional responsibilities, which include:
- Checking vital signs, such as pulse, temperature, respiratory rate, and blood pressure
- Administering medications, including insulin, topical treatments, and inhalation therapy
- Setting up and using medical equipment like ventilators and tracheotomy suctioning machines
- Assisting with tube feeding, including changing and irrigating G-tubes
- Sterile wound dressing of injuries that are either infected or at risk of infection
- Monitoring complex modified diets for patients with special dietary needs
Who provides aide training?
An important part of CDPAP places the burden of training on the consumer. While this allows for greater independence and cuts down on regulatory red tape, It can also be confusing if you don’t know where to start. We at FreedomCare make this process easier by working with patients and their designated representatives to design effective training plans. If you or a loved one is considering participating in CDPAP, contact us today for more information.