Having A Home Health Aid Can Be ALOT

Home Health Aid for Chronic Illness: A Comprehensive Guide


As someone who suffers from a chronic illness, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to manage your health while also trying to maintain a normal life.

Imagine having a chronic illness that affects your daily mobility, quality of life, and having hired personal care assistants who don’t show up - meaning that you don’t eat, drink, go to the bathroom, shower, or get to the doctor for your necessary weekly appointments. That has been my reality too many times to count because of the negligence or unprofessionalism of many of the home health aids I’ve hired and fired.

Time and time again, my experiences have proven the old adage to be true, “Good help is [truly] hard to find.”

The real need to have consistent and reliable help still exists as daily reality for those of us with chronic illnesses like Muscular Dystrophy. I want to make it clear that my experience does not represent all experiences, but as someone who is dependent on the assistance of another to maintain a human-quality of life, I know the importance of having the right support on this journey.

Whether it’s you, a relative, partner or community member, understand that the evaluation process of a home health aid is just as important as the work. I want to share some of the things I’ve learned in my experience of hiring (and firing) home health aides in hopes that you too can find the best help for yourself or loved ones.

Based on my experiences, I’ve compiled a list of considerations, skills and responsibilities a home health aid should possess in order to adequately support those with chronic illnesses and other conditions that may affect mobility and expected functions of the body.

What to Expect or Request from a Home Health Aid

Daily Living Activities

Home health aids should be prepared to assist patients with activities of daily living. This can include personal care such as bathing, grooming, or dressing. They may also help patients and caregivers with light housekeeping duties, such as laundry or food preparation.

Condition Management

For patients with chronic illnesses, home health aids can play a vital role in helping us manage our condition. They should work closely with the patient's healthcare team to ensure that we receive the necessary care and support. This includes monitoring the patient's vital signs, administering medication, and providing emotional support.

Independence and Quality of Life

In addition to providing physical care, home health aids should also help patients maintain our independence and quality of life. Assisting with mobility and exercise, encouraging social interaction, and providing companionship are additional factors that can make or break your experience depending on your current caregiving support system.

Knowing first-hand how challenging living with a chronic illness can be, I”ve learned that its’ 100% necessary to work with an aid who makes your life more comfortable with their help, not more work.

Skills Required for Home Health Aids

After having my fairshare of good and bad experiences with home health aids, I have developed a checklist of skill sets that make the difference between feeling supported and feeling frustrated. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when selecting a home health aide.

Language Skills

One of my biggest challenges with most of the home health aids I’ve worked with is a lack of reasonable English language skills. Not being able to truly understand one another or effectively communicate has been my biggest barrier to receiving adequate care. I am a strong supporter advocate and believer in diverse workforces, but this has been one area of frustration for me as time and time again, I have had to end a contract based on the inability of my home health aid to understand or speak English. My hope is that you don’t experience the same challenge, and I do hope there will be more training and development resources available to help solve this issue for both home care providers and the patients like me who so desperately need their assistance.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential in the home health aide profession. Being able to communicate with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals is critical and something you can’t skip when evaluating your aid. I need to be able to discuss treatments, medications, doctor’s orders and I need to know that my aid understands and can communicate when they don’t


Empathy is the ability to feel compassion for another person. Your home health aid has to be sensitive to the fact that they may be working with patients who have health issues and cannot perform basic daily tasks. To be effective and make genuine connections with patients, aids must have strong empathy skills. This includes creating a rapport with the patient and understanding their needs and emotions. You’d be surprised how many aids I’ve dwelt with who don’t include this in their work.

Time Management

Time management is one of the most important skills for a home health aide. They must be able to prioritize tasks, manage their time efficiently, and ensure that we complete tasks within the allotted time. This includes scheduling appointments, administering medication, and providing personal care.


Organization is another essential skill for a home health aide. They have to be able to  keep track of patient records, appointments, and medication schedules. They must ensure that the patient's living space is clean and organized, and that their medical equipment is properly stored and maintained.

Medical Knowledge

A home health aide must have a basic understanding of medical terminology and procedures. This includes knowledge of common chronic illnesses, medication administration, and basic first aid. I need my aid to be able to recognize symptoms of an emergency and respond appropriately.

Physical Fitness

Home health aides must be physically fit and able to perform basic tasks such as lifting and transferring patients. Aids need to be able to assist patients with mobility issues and help them perform exercises as prescribed by their healthcare provider.


Patience is a critical skill for a home health aide. Patients with chronic illnesses may require more time and attention, and it is essential to remain calm and patient while providing care. They need to be able to work with patients who may be irritable or uncooperative due to their illness, because sometimes, we just experience difficult days as it relates to our physical and mental health.

In conclusion, being a home health aide for chronic illness requires a set of essential skills such as communication, empathy, time management, organization, medical knowledge, physical fitness, and patience. By possessing these skills, the right aid can provide quality care to patients and have the potential to make a positive impact on their lives.


One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a home health aide is their credentials. Make sure that the aide is licensed, certified, and insured. This will ensure that they have the proper training and experience to provide the care that you need. Additionally, check their references and ask for proof of their credentials before hiring them.


Another important factor to consider when selecting a home health aide is their experience. Look for an aide who has experience working with patients who have chronic illnesses. This will ensure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the care that you need. Additionally, ask the aide about their experience working with patients who have similar conditions to yours.


Finally, when selecting a home health aide, it is important to find someone who is compatible with you and your needs. Look for an aide who is friendly, patient, and understanding. Additionally, make sure that the aide is available to work when you need them and that they are willing to provide the level of care that you require.

Overall, selecting a home health aide for chronic illness requires careful consideration of a few key factors. By taking the time to find an aide who is properly credentialed, experienced, and compatible with your needs, you can ensure that you receive the best possible care.


Overall, in-home care has the potential to improve outcomes for individuals with chronic illnesses, but it is important to recognize the complex nature of care management and the need for a empathy-centered, professional approach. By working together, healthcare professionals, family caregivers, and patients can develop effective care plans that promote optimal health and well-being.

May we all find the good help we so desperately need.


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