Home health aides occupy a particularly difficult position in healthcare. They spend time in patients’ homes, often daily. They see the challenges that patients face and may witness embarrassing moments. Navigating this situation in a way that leaves patients feeling confident they’re getting good care requires several crucial skills that you should look for in all your candidates.
Good communication means more than just the ability to read, write, and speak clearly. Home health aides may provide care for patients with anything from a college degree to less-than-complete high school education. That means they must adjust how they talk about medication and care so the patient will grasp it. Good communication is also about good listening. Aides must not only hear the words the patients say but also grasp their meaning from body language and tone.
Takeaway: Take the extra time to gauge your candidates’ communication skills.
Most home health aides don’t just provide medical assistance for patients. They often help with more mundane tasks that can change from week-to-week. For example, they might be asked to help someone shave or do some basic grocery shopping. People who prefer a well-defined and predictable job may find these variations challenging.
Takeaway: Ask your candidates for several examples of when they were adaptable on the job. Follow up with questions about how they view ever-shifting responsibilities.
While compassion can’t be the only criteria for hiring a home health aide, it is a crucial skill. Those receiving medical care at home are often fresh off a medical crisis that has fundamentally altered their lives. Aides need the ability to empathize and show compassion for those under their care. Without that ability, they run the risk of making patients’ already challenging circumstances even less bearable.
Takeaway: You can’t test for compassion or empathy, but you can explore why someone decided to go into healthcare in the first place. This can give you some insight into whether they possess compassion.
Home health aides interact with patients in incredibly vulnerable circumstances. They see patients in their homes, rather than the more clinical environment of a hospital or doctor’s office. It also means they must handle tasks that don’t often crop up in a clinical environment, like doing laundry or grocery shopping. That means they need excellent communication skills, adaptability, and compassion.