When a patient enters a hospice situation at home they are typically surrounded by a team of professionals including a doctor, nurses, psychologists, social workers, clergy and hospice aides, also known as Hospice Home Health Aides.
Many people often ask us what the role of an aide in hospice care is and how it is different from what the nursing staff does. Hospice care aides are not healthcare professionals and generally do not work in hospitals but in a patient’s home. As part of the healthcare team, they provide assistance to the nursing staff. Unlike nurses, they are not degreed professionals. However, they are under the jurisdiction and guidance of the nurses on the team and look to them for advice and instruction.
What do Home Health Aides Do?
While the hospice team nurse is coordinating your loved one’s pain management with the physician, or your food plan with the dietician, the aide is filling the role of support staff. They have been trained to help with activities of daily living as well as a few general health areas. Their tasks may include assistance with such items as showering/bathing/sponge bathing, grooming (washing/brushing/combing hair, shaving, oral hygiene, nail care), assistance with walking, repositioning, transference from bed to chair to bed again, and toileting help, as well as keeping the area around a catheter clean and making certain there isn’t a blockage, giving back rubs/massages to ease cramped muscles, helping with range of motion exercises (if requested by the physical or occupational therapist), and light housekeeping (changing bed sheets, vacuuming, etc.). By handling these tasks, they free up the nursing staff and provide respite to family caregivers so that they can enjoy their time with their loved one.
At Luxe Hospice we take great care in how we interview, select and train our personal care hospice aides as they are integral members of our team, interacting with our patients and their families on a daily basis. We make sure they have a thorough understanding of the hospice process, what the patient and the family expects, and whom to address specific situations or questions to. In this way all concerns are addressed by a chain of command and not thrust on someone who is unable to or not adequately prepared to provide answers to them. In addition, our volunteers support the aides by running, errands, writing letters or just being a good sounding board. At Luxe Hospice, our goal is to give our patients and their families precious moments to remember.