What to Expect from a Hospice Home Health Aide

The home health aide is an integral part of the interdisciplinary hospice team and is often the person with whom the patient and his or her family members have the most contact. Aides provide a great deal of the daily care and may also be the ones present when the patient passes away. Therefore, it is vital that the patient as well as the family members feel very comfortable with the home health aide or aides chosen to visit them. Understanding what a hospice home health aide does will help families see their importance and learn more about the intricacies of hospice care for the terminally ill.

Following the Nurse’s Care Plan

The home health aide always works beneath the supervision of a registered nurse, a licensed vocational nurse or some other licensed health care personnel. Therefore, the home health aide is always following the care plan that the nurse drew up following his or her initial assessment of the patient. Should there be any significant changes in the patient’s status, the aide will alert the nurse to these immediately. The aide may provide services in the patient’s home or nursing home room.

Most home health aides visit each patient at least two or three times per week. A visit may last a couple of hours depending on the patient’s needs. He or she may check the patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature, depending on the policies of the particular hospice program. However, the majority of the aide’s job will revolve around basic bedside care, such as changing linens, bathing the patient, getting the patient up to a chair, brushing the patient’s teeth or helping the patient to walk. Patients who are unable to walk can receive a range of motion exercises if appropriate to ease stiffness and pain in the joints.

A final portion of the home health aide’s job is to be a listening ear to the patient and family members. The excellent aide will be able to provide emotional support and to connect the family and patient with any necessary resources along with the help of the case social worker. Because the aide typically has the most contact with the patient, he or she will be the best person to report needs, changes or concerns to the appropriate nurse case manager or social worker.

What to Look for in a Hospice Care Program
When Is the Best Time to Begin Hospice Care?