Personal and home care aides help elderly, disabled, ill, and mentally disabled persons live in their own homes or in residential care facilities instead of in health facilities. Most personal and home care aides work with elderly or physically or mentally disabled clients who need more extensive personal and home care than family or friends can provide. Some aides work with families in which a parent is incapacitated and small children need care. Others help discharged hospital patients who have relatively short-term needs. (Home health aideswho provide health-related services, rather than mainly housekeeping and routine personal careare discussed in the statement on nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Personal and home care aidesalso called homemakers, caregivers, companions, and personal attendantsprovide housekeeping and routine personal care services. They clean clients’ houses, do laundry, and change bed linens. Aides may plan meals (including special diets), shop for food, and cook. Aides also may help clients get out of bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Some accompany clients to doctors’ appointments or on other errands.
Personal and home care aides provide instruction and psychological support to their patients. They may advise families and patients on nutrition, cleanliness, and household tasks. Aides also may assist in toilet training a severely mentally handicapped child, or they may just listen to clients talk about their problems.
In home health care agencies, a registered nurse, physical therapist, or social worker assigns specific duties and supervises personal and home care aides. Aides keep records of services performed and of clients’ condition and progress. They report changes in the client’s condition to the supervisor or case manager. In carrying out their work, aides cooperate with health care professionals, including
registered nurses, therapists, and other medical staff.