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Health Care Aide

Health care aides provide personal assistance and support services for elderly, disabled, acute or chronically ill people who require short term assistance or ongoing support.

  • Avg. Salary $25,228.00
  • Avg. Wage $18.68
  • Minimum Education At least Grade 10
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 28,200
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Caregiver, Client Care Attendant, Geriatric Health Aide, Health Care Assistant, Home Support Worker, Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Personal Care Attendant, Residential Aide, Institutional Aide

NOC & Interest Codes
The Health Care Aide is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates
NOC code: 3413
SOCIAL

Interest in assisting hospital staff by carrying messages, reports, requisitions and specimens from one department to another; in providing comfort to patients by answering call signals, making beds and maintaining patients' rooms; in assisting patients with menu selection; and in setting-up and providing leisure activities for patients, and accompanying patients on outside recreational activities

METHODICAL

Interest in copying routine procedures to provide basic patient care, supervise patients' exercise routines, transport patients in wheelchairs and stretchers, and supply and empty bed pans; in maintaining inventory of supplies; in reporting or recording fluid intake or output; and in observing or monitoring patients' status and document patient care on charts

objective

Interest in operating medical equipment to take blood pressure, temperature and pulse; in collecting specimens such as urine, faeces and sputum; in administering suppositories, colonic irrigations and enemas; and in performing other procedures as directed by nursing and hospital staff; may perform maintenance tasks such as assist with the set-up and maintenance of traction equipment, clean or sterilize equipment, maintain and repair equipment and assemble, set-up and operate equipment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Visiting Homemakers
NOC code: 6471.1
SOCIAL

Interest in serving - assisting clients by administering bedside and personal care such as aid in walking, bathing, personal hygiene and dressing and undressing; by feeding or assisting in feeding clients; and in demonstrating infant care to new parents

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to maintain client files and plan meals and special diets

objective

Interest in handling the preparation of meals and special diets; may perform routine housekeeping duties such as laundry, washing dishes and making beds; may perform routine health-related duties such as change non-sterile dressings, administer medications and collect specimens under the direction of a home-care agency supervisor or nurse

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Working under the supervision of a nurse or other health professional, health care aides provide basic health services for clients who have medical conditions or major functional limitations. They provide the physical and emotional support clients need to be as independent as possible in the community, hospitals or continuing care facilities. 

Health care aides may work with clients who:

  • have complex, chronic medical conditions
  • have physical or cognitive disabilities, or functional deficits that interfere with activities of daily living
  • require end-of-life (palliative) care
  • have acute illnesses.

Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, health care aides:

  • assist clients with bathing, grooming and dressing, and other personal hygiene activities
  • feed clients and, when required, measure intake and output
  • assist with bed transfers, lifting, turning, walking and crutch walking
  • assist clients with therapeutic activities such as range of motion exercises, medication administration and reminders, simple wound care, respiratory equipment use or urinary care
  • implement therapeutic interventions for behaviour management
  • administer suppositories and fleet enemas, empty ostomy bags, collect stool specimens and assist with toileting
  • ensure the safety of their clients, themselves and others
  • communicate with clients, and observe and report on client condition.

Health care aides may work in specialized areas such as pediatric, end-of-life, dementia or brain injury programs.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

There is considerable physical activity involved in helping people to move, bath, dress and perform other daily activities. Health care aides may be required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms or be on their feet for long periods of time. Good general health, knowledge of body mechanics and proper lifting techniques are required to avoid injury.

Other working conditions in this occupation vary greatly. Health care aides may work in institutional settings or in homes ranging from comfortable to undesirable. Although many clients are pleasant and cooperative, some are difficult. Dealing with difficult clients can be frustrating and stressful.

Hours of work also vary. Since many agencies offer 24 hour service, shift work (including weekends) often is required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Health care aides need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to be understanding, patient, gentle and non-judgmental
  • good physical and mental health
  • maturity and dependability
  • the ability to communicate effectively and get along with people
  • willingness and ability to keep information about clients confidential
  • the ability to use tact and judgment in dealing with difficult situations
  • sensitivity to the physical, social, cultural, spiritual and psychological effects of development and aging
  • respectfulness the client's right to privacy and to be treated with dignity
  • flexibility and resourcefulness
  • the ability to work both independently and as a member of a team
  • strong organizational and time-management skills.

Health care aides should enjoy working with and assisting people, and having clear rules and guidelines for their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Education requirements vary from one employer to another. Many private and public post-secondary schools in Alberta offer short education programs for Health Care Aides. Some employers offer on-the-job training in partnership with post-secondary schools so you can earn a certificate while you work.

Employers may require health care aides to have completed training in first aid and food safety.

Alberta Health has developed a standard curriculum for health care aide training that is offered by post-secondary schools throughout the province.

Program length and delivery options vary. Some institutions have full time, part time, distance, in-service or regional delivery options (for people already employed in the field). Full time programs range from 15 to 27 weeks. Some employers hire untrained individuals and offer the necessary training for new health care aides on the job.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary

Academy of Learning - Edmonton Downtown

Alberta Caregiving Institute - Edmonton General Hospital

Assiniboine Community College - Brandon

Bow Valley College

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Calgary North

CDI College of Business, Technology and Health Care - Edmonton South

CLI College of Business Health & Technology - Calgary

CLI College of Business, Health and Technology - Edmonton North

Lakeland College

Lethbridge College

Medicine Hat College

Nightingale Academy of Health Services Inc.

Royal Health Care Aide Training School - Lethbridge

TLC Edmonton: Training for Foreign Caregivers

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Health care aides are employed by:

  • individual clients
  • private agencies
  • continuing care facilities
  • government social service departments and agencies
  • not-for-profit charitable agencies
  • home care and family service associations
  • hospitals.

Those who have considerable experience may move into supervisory or management positions. However, advancement opportunities are limited without additional education.

Health care aides are part of two larger 2011 National Occupational Classifications, 3413: Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates and 4412: Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations. 

In Alberta:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above. Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 24,500 Albertans are employed in the Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 882 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As health care aide form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for health care aide.

Over 8,000 Albertans are employed in the Visiting homemakers, housekeepers and related occupations occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 264 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As health care aide form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for health care aide.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Salaries for health care aides vary considerably depending on the employer and on the employee's responsibilities, experience and training.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) website.

Health care aides are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4412: Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations occupational group earned on average from $17.19 to $20.03 an hour. The overall average wage was $18.68 an hour. For more information, see the Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Community Care Services
    • Health Care Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) website: http://www.aupe.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Apr 09, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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