Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Occupation: Home Health Aide
Overview: A home health aide helps clients who are ill, injured, or are unable to care for themselves. Some are live-in caregivers, working round the clock, while others provide care for the client during certain hours; the schedule is often determined by what the client is able to pay and which services their insurance company covers. Working under the supervision of a medical professional (typically a nurse), an aide may provide a number of services for the client:
- Helping with personal hygiene (bathing, grooming, etc.)
- Taking care of domestic duties, such as cleaning, doing laundry, shopping for groceries, or preparing healthy meals
- Transporting the client to and from medical appointments
- Accompanying them on social outings
- Scheduling appointments
- Making sure the client gets adequate exercise
- Helping with medical tasks (monitoring medication intake, changing bandages, etc.)
The aide will also be required to keep careful notes of their services and often may work in cooperation with other professionals servicing the client. They may work independently or be part of an agency, with their hours being scheduled by an administrative employee.
Necessary Training: Training varies, depending on the aide’s location. Those working with an agency usually need a high school degree and are often required to acquire certain certifications. Training can be accomplished on the job or through vocational schools and community colleges. Background checks are usually required for people in this position.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, hospitality, reading people, super strength
POSITIVE: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, calm, cooperative, courteous, discreet, efficient, empathetic, friendly, gentle, honorable, hospitable, humble, kind, nurturing, organized, protective, responsible, sensible, supportive, unselfish
Sources of Friction: Uncooperative clients, clients who expect more help than one is supposed to provide, clients who need more help but can’t afford to pay for it, conflict with insurance companies, demanding or unreasonable family members, absentee loved ones, always being given the “difficult” clients or tasks, being injured on the job and not being able to work, working long or difficult hours, sharing duties with other professionals and realizing that the client is not receiving adequate care, seeing signs that a client is being abused or neglected, working in a home that is unsanitary or unsafe, being accused of unethical behavior by the client or their family members, having to service a client in an unsafe neighborhood
People They Might Interact With: Clients, the client’s family members, the client’s roommates, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, insurance personnel, other aides, administrative personnel (if the aide works out of an agency)
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: An aide who dreams of doing more with her career (like progressing to become a nurse) but is unable to do so may start to feel stifled and limited.
- Esteem and Recognition: As support staff, aides may be treated as second-class citizens by some people. They can easily be overlooked, underestimated, or taken advantage of by certain kinds of people.
- Love and Belonging: A home health care aide may choose this career as a way of connecting with many clients on a surface level. It could become a way to scratch the belonging itch without having to commit long-term or get really involved in someone’s life.
- Safety and Security: Injuries are higher in this field than many others. Aides are injured while picking up clients or bodily moving them from one spot to another. They also can easily contrast sicknesses if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, big city street, casual dining restaurant, grocery store, kitchen, living room, park, parking lot, residential bathroom, run-down apartment, small town street, trailer park, waiting room
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
- Home health aides are more often female, but men take up this occupation, too. For this career choice, consider a burly ex-biker or professional athlete with a nurturing disposition.
- While we often see aides servicing lower-income clientele, everyone needs help from time to time. What about a home health care agency that services the wealthy? Or an aide who specializes in working with large families or those with mental disabilities?
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.