A home health aide improves the quality of life for patients who may be dependent on others for the simplest everyday tasks. A competent aide does not just provide medical support or pain relief to such a patient but can offer companionship and promote mental well-being significantly simply by lending a sympathetic ear or by showing compassionate care to them. Immensely satisfying as this job is, it is also quite exciting because you have the opportunity to constantly push your limits, test yourself, and also improve your own skills with each assignment that you take up. While this can make the job very challenging, it can be somewhat intimidating for those who lack the key skills that are essential to succeed in this line of work.
Apart from the qualifications and training you have for carrying out medical procedures (for example, wound care or administration of medicines) as a home health aide, you also need to have a number of soft skills. Take a look at a few of these that can make a difference to how sought-after you are as a home health aide:
Empathy and compassion
The obvious soft skills that a home health aide needs are compassion and empathy. The patients you care for are likely to be struggling with myriad negative feelings arising out of their ailment or their inability to be independent. Unless you can understand how they feel and can empathize with them, you may inadvertently make them feel worse while you carry out your regular duties. A genuine concern and interest in the patient’s mental state and emotional state would help you give them the kind of care that is truly beneficial to them on many levels.
A person suffering from a disability or ailment may be in constant pain or discomfort although it may not be evident on the outside. Some patients may be fortunate enough to avoid these issues, but the feeling of helplessness they have can make them very frustrated, prompting them to be unreasonable or irascible. For example, an elder with dementia may exhibit aggressive behavior, refusing to eat. You have to be patient with her and ensure that she gets the adequate nutrition her body needs. A home health aide needs to have incredible patience in order to deal with such patients with firmness but consideration and kindness too. You may even need to exhibit patience with the family members of your patient in situations where they do not understand why you are dealing with a situation in a particular way.
Communication is the most critical of interpersonal skills that you might need for your career as a home health aide. After all, you have to be able to convey to your patients what you want them to do, explain what you are going to be doing and also help them express what they need or what they are feeling. Again, it is also necessary for you to communicate with the family members effectively and clearly when they have queries about caring for the patient or about your work. For example, the family member may express his anxiety about meeting the costs of hiring you for a long term. You can give them a quick rundown of various options they have of hiring part-time aides or suggest financial help options, like those suggested in this quick read about paying for home health care.
The crux of the matter is that, as a home health aide, your nursing training and qualifications are not the only things that can help you achieve success and credibility here. If you can hone these soft skills alongside, you enhance your chances of earning the trust and admiration of your clients easily.