Home care aide

A home care aide


Home care aides provide personal assistance and promote autonomy, on a daily basis to individuals who are unable to take care of themselves due to illness, ageing or disability. They assist them with personal hygiene, feeding, communication or medication according to the health care professional’s instructions.

Excludes people performing activities under the supervision of medical or nursing staff.

Home care aides typically do the following:

  • Assist clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Perform housekeeping tasks, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming
  • Help to organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or other outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals to meet a client’s dietary specifications
  • Keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities.

Home care aides may provide some basic health-related services—such as checking a client’s pulse, temperature, and respiration rate—depending on the state in which they work. They also may help with simple prescribed exercises and with giving medications. Occasionally, they change bandages or dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment, such as ventilators to help clients breathe.

Home care aides are supervised by medical practitioners, usually nurses, and may work with therapists and other medical staff. These aides keep records on the client, such as services received, condition, and progress. They report changes in the client’s condition to a supervisor or case manager.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to home care aide:

live in caregiver
personal care worker
personal care provider
health care provider
live in caretaker
home health care aide
in home nurse
elderly people assistant
certified medical aide
personal care attendant

Working conditions

Many home care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in group homes or care communities. Some aides work with only one client, while others work with groups of clients. They sometimes stay with one client on a long-term basis or for a specific purpose, such as hospice care. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide.

Aides may travel as they help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Injuries and Illnesses

Work as a home care aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Because they often move clients into and out of bed or help with standing or walking, aides must use proper lifting techniques to guard against back injury.

In addition, aides may work with clients who have cognitive impairments or mental health issues and who may display difficult or violent behaviors. Aides also face hazards from minor infections and exposure to communicable diseases but can lessen their chance of infection by following proper procedures.

Work Schedules

Most aides work full time, although part-time work is common. They may work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients’ needs. Work schedules may vary.

Minimum qualifications

Home care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some positions do not require a formal educational credential. Postsecondary nondegree award programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools.

Home care aides may be trained in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. Aides may learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond in an emergency. If state certification is required, specific training may be needed.

Training may be completed on the job or through programs. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition.

Home care aides may need to meet requirements specific to the state in which they work. For example, some states require home health aides to have a license or certification, which may involve completing training and passing a background check and a competency exam.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Home care aide is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Home care aide career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to home care aide.

au pair
domestic housekeeper

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of home care aide. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of home care aide with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

legal guardian
personal trainer
private chef
leisure attendant
disability support worker

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of home care aide.

  • Disability care: The specific methods and practices used in providing care to people with physical, intellectual and learning disabilities.
  • Older adults’ needs: The physical, mental, and social needs of frail, older adults.
  • Disability types: The nature and types of disabilities affecting the human beings such as physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional or developmental and the specific needs and access requirements of disabled people.
  • First response: The procedures of pre-hospital care for medical emergencies, such as first aid, resuscitation techniques, legal and ethical issues, patient assessment, trauma emergencies.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of home care aide.

  • Wash the laundry: Wash or clean clothes by hand or by use of a washing machine.
  • Apply first response: Respond to medical or trauma emergencies and care for the patient in a manner compliant with health and safety regulations, assessing the legal and ethical issues of the situation, and provide proper pre-hospital care.
  • Provide in-home support for disabled individuals: Assist individuals with disabilities in their own homes and with daily living tasks such as washing, dressing, eating and transport, helping them to achieve independence.
  • Tend to elderly people: Help elderly people in their physical, mental, and social needs.
  • Prepare sandwiches: Make filled and open sandwiches, paninis and kebabs.
  • Iron textiles: Press and iron in order to shape or flatten textiles giving them their final finishing appearance. Iron by hand or with steam pressers.
  • Buy groceries: Purchase ingredients, products and tools that are necessary for daily housekeeping activities.
  • Assist social service users with physical disabilities: Help service users with mobility problems and other physical disabilities such as incontinence, assisting in the use and care of aids and personal equipment.
  • Support social service users to live at home: Support social service users to develop their own personal resources and work with them to access additional resources, services and facilities.
  • Accompany people: Chaperon individuals on trips, to events or appointments or to go shopping.
  • Evaluate older adults’ ability to take care of themselves: Assess the condition of an older patient and decide if he or she needs assistance in taking care of him- or herself to eat or to bathe and in meeting his/hers social and psychological needs.
  • Assist clients with special needs: Aid clients with special needs following relevant guidelines and special standards. Recognise their needs and accurately respond to them if needed.
  • Prepare ready-made dishes: Get ready for serving snacks and sandwiches or heat up ready-made bar products if requested.
  • Wash the dishes: Wash plates, glasses, silverware and cooking gear used for a meal, by hand or by use of a dish washer. Put everything back in its place afterwards.
  • Make the beds: Clean sheets, turn mattresses, plump pillows and change cushions.
  • Monitor patient’s health condition: Frequently examine the mental or physical health condition of a patient, monitor the use of medication and report on their condition to your superiors or to the patient’s family.
  • Support individuals to adjust to physical disability: Assist individuals to adjust to the implications of physical disability and to understand the new responsibilities and level of dependency.
  • Assist disabled passengers: Use appropriate safety procedures to operate lifts and secure wheelchairs and other assistive devices while assisting physically disabled travellers.
  • Keep company: Be with people to do stuff together, such as talking, playing games or having a drink.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of home care aide. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Visual disability: Impairment of the ability to naturally discern and process viewed images.
  • Hearing disability: Impairment of the ability to discern and process sounds naturally.
  • Mobility disability: Impairment of the ability to physically move naturally.
  • Food allergies: The types of food allergies within the sector, which substances trigger allergies, and how they can be replaced or eliminated (if possible).

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of home care aide. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Prevent domestic accidents: Analyse the risk factors linked to domestic accidents and propose prevention actions or equipments in the care recipients home and surroundings.
  • Assist disabled individuals to participate in community activities: Facilitate disabled individuals` inclusion in the community and support them to establish and maintain relationships through access to community activities, venues and services.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Feed pets: Make sure that pets are given appropriate food and water on time.
  • Clean household linens: Wash linens such as sheets, towels and table cloths with water and soap or detergent. Clean linens by hand or by the use of a washing machine.
  • Perform dusting activities: Remove dust from furniture, blinds and windowsills using specialised dust cloths or hand-cleaning items.
  • Use food preparation techniques: Apply food preparation techniques including the selecting, washing, cooling, peeling, marinating, preparing of dressings and cutting of ingredients.
  • Advise patients on health and lifestyle issues: Advise patients on issues related to health and lifestyle, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits.
  • Handle linen in stock: Manage laundered items and store them in safe and hygienic conditions.
  • Vacuum surfaces: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and small particles from floors, drapes, carpets or furniture.
  • Prepare dietary meals: Prepare and cook special meals, according to the dietary needs or restrictions of the individual or group of people targeted.
  • Clean surfaces: Disinfect surfaces in accordance with sanitary standards.
  • Provide dog walking services: Provide dog-walking services, including activities such as agreement of services with the customer, selection and use of handling equipment, interaction with the dog, and safe and responsible dog walking.
  • Clean rooms: Clean rooms by cleaning glasswork and windows, polishing furniture, vacuuming carpets, scrubbing hard floors, and removing garbage.
  • Administer appointments: Accept, schedule and cancel appointments.
  • Promote healthy lifestyle: Provide information to clients about the role of physical activity, modes of exercise and related services and the importance of healthy activities for daily living.
  • Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Show social competences: Ability to interact effectively with other people.
  • Lift heavy weights: Lift heavy weights and apply ergonomic lifting techniques to avoid damaging the body.
  • Assess risks for the elderly: Visit the patient`s home to identify environmental factors that contribute to falls or other injuries of the elderly present.
  • Use cooking techniques: Apply cooking techniques including grilling, frying, boiling, braising, poaching, baking or roasting.
  • Promote prevention of social isolation: Promote the use of ICT devices in order to prevent the care recipient to loose contact with his social environment.

ISCO group and title

5322 – Home-based personal care workers

  1. Home care aide – ESCO
  2. Home Health and Personal Care Aides : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Featured image: Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels
Last updated on November 3, 2022

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