Six Tips for Working with Home Care Aides


Published: 11/19/2012

by Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.


Six Tips for Working with Home Care Aides


So, you’ve decided to bring in a home care aide – congratulations! You’ve taken a big step toward reducing your caregiving load while also providing some extra care and new experiences for your loved one. Whether you have hired a home health aide, a personal care aide, or a homemaker, it will be important to clarify your expectations and foster good communication with the aide so that you can more easily monitor your family member’s care.


Here are six tips for working with home care aides:


  1. Clarify roles. It’s important for you to understand what your home care aide can and cannot do. For instance, a personal care aide will be able to bathe your family member, but s/he will not be able to provide wound care or other medical treatment. It's also important for the aide to understand your role as the caregiver. If you have trouble getting your loved one out of bed in the morning, this should be communicated so that the aide doesn’t expect your family member to be up and dressed when s/he gets there.
  2. Help the aide get to know your loved one. This is especially important if your family member has trouble communicating. Share with the home care aide information about your loved one’s background, family and work history, hobbies, religious beliefs, values, preferences, and favorite activities, foods, and music. When the aide knows these details, s/he can personalize your loved one’s care and enhance his or her quality of life.
  3. Set terms and expectations. If you’ve hired a home care aide from an agency, there will already be terms and expectations set forth, and it’s important to understand what kind of contract you’ve signed. If you are hiring a private aide, you’ll have to spell out these terms and expectations yourself. They should include hours, pay, vacation time, whether meals are included, and a back-up plan in the event that the aide cannot work. You should also clarify whether visitors are allowed while the aide is working (note that agencies do not allow their aides to have visitors).
  4. Prepare for emergencies. The home care aide should have easy access to a list of important phone numbers such as your family member’s doctor, all of your numbers, and a back-up family member in the event that you are unreachable. Be sure you have an emergency plan in place and that the aide and other family members understand it. If the aide is from an agency, ask the agency how they have trained their aides to handle emergencies.
  5. Put away valuables and private items. This is a no-brainer whenever you have guests in the house. Be sure to stash money, jewelry, confidential papers, and other private or valuable items in a safe and secure place.
  6. Be sensitive to cultural differences. Ask the aide if s/he would like you to use his or her first name (Angela) or last name (Mr. Sampson). Also clarify how the aide should refer to your loved one. It is perfectly fine to request an aide that can speak the same language as your family member. Finally, be sure to describe any cultural or religious traditions that your family member honors so that the aide does not make any assumptions about these aspects of care.




Next Step in Care/United Hospital Fund (2012). Working with home health aides.