Tasks Outside the Scope of the Home Health Aide

Laws and regulations on what aides can and cannot do vary from state to state.  A scope of practice defines the things you are allowed to do.  However, some procedures are not performed by home health aides under any circumstances.  These tasks are said to be outside the scope of practice of a home health aide.

HHAs do not administer medications unless trained and assigned to do so.  Only a few states allow home health aides to do this.  However, it always requires additional training.  Home health aides may assist the clients with self-administered medications in certain situations.

HHAs do not insert or remove tubes or objects (other than a thermometer) in a client’s body.  These procedures are called “invasive,” and are performed only by licensed professionals.

HHAs do not honor a request to do something outside the scope of practice, not listed in the job description, or not on the assignment sheet.  In this situation an HHA should explain that he or she cannot do the task requested.  The request should then be reported to a supervisor.

HHAs do not perform procedures that require sterile technique.  For example, changing a sterile dressing on a deep, open wound requires sterile technique.

HHAs do not diagnose or prescribe treatments or medications.

HHAs do not tell the client or the family the diagnosis or the medical treatment plan.  This is the responsibility of the doctor or nurse.

In some cases, you may be trained to do a particular task that your employer does not want home health aides to perform.  Know which tasks these are and do not perform them.  Many of these specialized tasks require more training.  It is important to learn how to refuse a task for which you have not been trained, or which is outside your scope of practice.