If You Want to Age in Place, a Home Health Aide Can be Your Best Friend

If You Want to Age in Place, a Home Health Aide Can be Your Best Friend

by Lynn Wallis

May 9, 2017

For people who naturally love caring for people, becoming a home health aide could serve as a rewarding career. Home health aides take care of patients who are elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired while they are living at home or residing in an assisted living facility. Home health aides assist patients with the activities of daily living and provide basic routine care such as assistance with eating, bathing, brushing teeth, giving medicine, changing dressings, and checking vital signs under the direction of a nurse or physician.

Occupational Demand

In 2014, there were 5,151 home health aides in Oregon and about 913,500, nationwide. The demand for this occupation is expected to grow as the older population expands and more and more people choose to age in place in their homes. Home care is typically less expensive than nursing home or hospital care, so many senior citizens are preferring to remain in their home for as long as possible. The Oregon Employment Department’s 10-year projections show that the number of home health aides will grow by 33.1 percent from 2014 to 2024 and provide 171 growth openings and 116 replacement openings, annually. This is a much higher growth rate than the statewide average of 13.9 percent for all occupations.

Industries of Employment and Wages

The current statewide average hourly wage for home health aides is $11.53. Wages range from a low of about $9.75 (10th percentile) to a high of about $14.63 (90th percentile). A large portion of home health aides work part-time and can work in a
variety of settings. Nationwide, many are employed by home health care services industries and are staffed out to homes or assisted living facilities. Other work settings include mental health and substance abuse facilities, nursing and assistant care facilities, and community care homes. In Oregon, more than half (56%) of home health aides worked in nursing and residential care facilities in 2014 where the majority of residents live in their own apartments. Only 20 percent, or 1,045 home health aides, worked for home health care services in 2014 but this number is expected to increase as the industry grows to meet the increasing demand from the aging population.

Training and Education

No statewide license is required for home health aides. According to an occupational application created for the general public O*NET OnLine, this occupation usually requires a high school diploma and some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Home health aides need anywhere from a few months to one year of working on the job to become competent in the occupation.
For additional information about home health aides, visit these resources:
Home Health Aides, Oregon Employment Department
Home Health Aides, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.
National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC)