What to Expect While Working as a Home Health Aid and a Nanny Essay
Nanny Vs Babysitter
A babysitter watches kids typically while the parents are away from home, for a irregular amount of hours until the parents return. A nanny, on the other hand, has more consistent hours, such as morning to afternoon. In some cases, the nanny watches the kids while the parents are physically at home, which was my scenario.
What is a Home Health Aid?
A home health aid assists someone, typically one who is elderly and/or has disabilities, through daily tasks. What they specifically help with depends on the needs of who they are assisting. For example, as I assisted someone with decreased mobility and low vision, I generally speaking would act as her eyes: removing or alerting her of obstacles in her walking path outside, helping her through steps without ramps, reading things to her, etc.
Being a nanny and working as a home health aid are not jobs that frequently overlap- the former frequently working with toddlers and children while the latter works with adults- however I worked caring for a low vision mother and her one-year-old toddler.
For simplification, I will refer to the mother as Alice and the toddler as Beth going forward.
A Typical Day At Home
The morning typically started between 7 am and 10 am; I washed Beth’s face and cleaned her teeth, changed Beth’s clothes from pajamas to day clothes, and I made breakfast for both Alice and Beth. With the weather permitted it, breakfast was followed by a walk around the neighborhood; I would place Beth into the her stroller, then get the stroller, Alice’s walker, and help Alice herself through the door.
When we returned to the house, Alice would rest while I watched Beth until mid-afternoon or early evening, which was when Alice’s partner came home. While I’m watching Beth by myself, I played and danced with her, read her books, sang to her, in addition to changing diapers and feeding her meals. Sometimes Beth knocked on the door, her way of requesting to go outside, and if the weather was permitting, we would go on a walk around the neighborhood or to the playground.
Beth is mostly good at walking on her own feet, only occasionally needing balancing help, so I didn’t hold her hand while walking unless there was an incline or she fumbled. Frequently, she stops the walk to look or touch the rocks on the sidewalk.
While watching Beth, I also would clean up the house: frequently I did the dishes, laundry, and took out the trash and recycling.
Every couple of days, I gave Beth a bath. This is involved not only making sure she gets clean, but also that she doesn’t fall or slide around in the bath.
In addition, I cleaned up vomit and spills while making sure Alice and Beth don’t walk into said spills, and occasionally refilled the diaper and wipe supply in the diaper bag.
I assisted Alice get to and from her and Beth’s doctor appointments: we typically took a para-transit bus. Due to the service being specialized for transporting disabled adults, there was a wheelchair ramp on the bus. While Alice got on the bus through the ramp, I carried Beth into the bus in her car seat. After both Alice and Beth are on the bus, I would collapse the stroller and pack it in the bus.
Skills I Learned On The Job
Beth is more effective at communicating through sign language and actions than speaking out loud, and I initially barely knew any sign language when I got there. I quickly learned the baby signs she uses: “eat”, “milk”, “more”, “all done”, and “water”.
I also learned the alphabet in ASL so I could finger-spell other words to Beth as well.
Figuring out how to collapse and pack Alice’s walker and Beth’s stroller into the car was a process Alice’s partner had to show and help me with multiple times before I was able to reliably do it myself.
While bathing a baby and changing diapers are tasks I’ve done before, while working I became more comfortable doing so by myself. In addition, the time I would independently watch Beth for an entire shift without guidance from Alice or Alice’s partner gradually increased as I worked more days there.
My usual focus was on Beth, making sure she’s fed, changed, and entertained while also maintaining house tasks like doing the dishes in addition to helping Alice with any physical or visual tasks.
The work was energy-consuming- the majority of the time I am in charge of a toddler- but it was really fun too. Between playing, singing, and dancing with Beth, and hanging out and conversing with Alice and her partner- I gained a lot of new, fun experiences about by being a nanny and a home health aid.