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What is a Home Attendant?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 17, 2024
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A home attendant is an in-home health aide who cares for people who need assistance with daily tasks, such as household chores, grocery shopping, using the restroom and bathing. These people live in private homes rather than in a medical or group environment. They normally include mentally or physically disabled persons as well as the elderly and convalescent.

The duties and tasks of a home attendant vary greatly as the clients he serves are diverse in age, mobility and overall health. Their physical and mental limitations also significantly differ. They may require daily assistance or the attendant may visit them only a few days a week.

Household tasks are generally part of the required jobs of a home attendant. These often include light housekeeping, changing bed linens and washing, folding and ironing laundry. Food purchasing, preparation and serving are typically required and may include fixing meals for family members in addition to the patient. It is common for special dietary guidelines to be imposed in preparing meals.

Home attendants are also sometimes required to assist with his client's ambulatory issues. He is regularly required to help them get in and out of bed. His clients also commonly require assistance entering and exiting automobiles. Assistance is often required to manipulate wheelchairs and walkers or to navigate stairs.

Sometimes patients are unable to use bathroom facilities without the help of the home attendant. The attendant may provide assistance in using the toilet as well as help the clients bathe, dress and groom themselves. This assistance generally requires the attendant to be strong and capable.

The attendant does not normally provide professional medical care and is not typically qualified to do so. He often administers over-the-counter as well as prescription medicines per written physician instructions or under the guidance of a home health nurse. Physically therapeutic treatments may be required of the home attendant. These frequently include massage and heat lamp stimulation along with the application of alcohol or liniment rubs.

If a patient is ambulatory, the home attendant may serve as a companion as well as a guide and aide for excursions outside the home. The two may run errands together, go to restaurants, attend movies or participate in other activities. It is customary for the home attendant to read to his clients or play cards or board games with them.

A home health attendant may assist his patients in banking and bill paying activities if the patient prefers. He may also help in drafting business or personal correspondence. He is often required to maintain logs or records of patient activities or observations of behavior.

No formal education is required for this position. A compassionate and patient personality is helpful to be successful in this position. It is beneficial to have first aid or life-saving training certifications.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On May 31, 2014

@Grivusangel -- I'm glad agencies that handle screening are more common. When my aunt was taking care of her mother-in-law, they had a terrible time finding someone reliable, who wouldn't steal items from the home and so forth.

A business has the resources to run in-depth background checks and get legitimate references for applicants before they're hired.

Yeah, a home attendant can make all the difference in the world. It sure has for my mom. There's a program in my town called Senior Companions, where older people who are still in good health volunteer to stay with others who may need a little help. They may just stay for an hour or so, and talk with the person, watch a little television, or play a game. Sometimes, they do a little light housekeeping. It's a way to check in on the person without making them feel like they're under surveillance.

By Grivusangel — On May 30, 2014

For people who can afford to hire someone, a home attendant is often the best way to help an older person stay in their home. In fact, there are businesses that specialize in hiring and screening attendants for people.

Often, a person might not need that much assistance. There just needs to be an extra pair of eyes on the person and on the house. Someone may need to remember to check that the coffeepot is unplugged, that all appliances are safely placed and operated -- that kind of thing.

The longer an elderly person can stay in their home, the better their overall function is, in general.

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