(The Life of a Home Health Aide)
By Luz Gutierrez Gil
Like all professions, a Home Health Aide earns her wings in the field, or as a Latina wouldsay: “with our boots on.” I can testify to having received excellent training from my HHA agency, with excellent and committed teachers.
Yet, starting work as an HHA, only half of the success is inthe training we receive. The other half of HHA success comes from innate attitudes: patience (without it, this profession is not for you), tolerance in the disarming of all kinds of prejudices, commonsense, courage, and also imagination. With this last quality, you can learn every day something new and enjoy your job.
During our training, we suffered a lot in learning how to make a bed. I hada couple of sleepless nights, with nightmares where I couldn’t make hospital corners.
In the field, you realize that the bed is easiest part of the job.
My first client, I had to move her in awheelchair. I knew how, but never before had I transported someone in a wheelchair. My God! How I suffered that first day. I had to learn to negotiate curbs, puddles, steps and traffic, all while goingfor a walk on a hot day, bathed in sweat. My common sense helped me. That day I realized that the sidewalks of New York are far from perfect, something I had never before noticed.
Little by littleyou are confronted with the colossal responsibility of caring for a frail client. For the agency, you are the ears and eyes of the nurse. For your clients, an HHA is seen variously as an advisor,psychologist, nurse, complaint office, friend, daughter, companion, housekeeper, international chef, confessor, and professional masseuse. This is the true test of the HHA’s professionalism; to know whatdo in each situation.
The most interesting aspects of being a Home Health Aide are the cultural encounters and exchanges. My native language is Spanish, the same as most of my clients, but the...