Updated March 2023
When it comes to choosing a profession, it's so important to get a clear picture of what life is actually like at work. Every career path comes with its own pros and cons, rewards and challenges.
The profession of health care aide is no exception.
This post offers students a glimpse into the most commonly reported benefits and challenges of this career path—plus the latest news on demand for health care aides in Winnipeg. We hope you'll find this information helpful during your decision-making process.
Typical challenges experienced by health care aides
For most health care aides, the benefits of making a profound difference in the lives of patients far outweighs typical on-the-job difficulties. However, working in long-term or respite care comes with challenges that must be acknowledged, such as:
It is quite common for health care aides to work different shifts (for example, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. one week, and 4 p.m. to midnight the next week). Working on weekends and holidays is also quite common in this field.
Working with difficult patients
It is normal for elderly or chronically ill patients to experienced confusion, anxiety, or anger. They may not want to cooperate with bathing, eating, exercise, etc. Health care aides must find compassionate yet assertive ways to communicate with challenging patients and ensure their needs are met.
Health care aides often help patients with limited mobility, which can include lifting them from a bed or into and out of a chair. Training programs teach health care aides secure methods of moving patients, but a degree of physical strength and stamina is required for this job.
Because health care aides typically work with elderly patients, and in palliative care (with patients who are dying), facing loss is an inevitable part of their professional life. This line of work involves forming close bonds with patients and their families, which can make saying goodbye a difficult process.
Top advantages of working as a health care aide
In an interview with The Guardian, a health care aide describes how committed she is to her career and how rewarding she finds her work—despite the very real physical and emotional challenges of her daily work.
She says the bonds she develops with patients and families are deeply moving and motivating: "We are up close and personal with our patients – we held their hand last night, we’ve cried with them... I do this because I want to give back. When a relative or patient says thank you, we are on top of the world."
This health care aid gets to the heart of what is most meaningful and rewarding about this work: making a compassionate human connection where it is needed most, right on the front lines of health care.
What other elements draw people to this career path? Commonly reported rewards include:
This is particularly true of working in home care, where health care aides can choose the number of hours they work each week. However, health care facilities also offer casual and part-time hours for health care aides who need more flexibility in their schedule.
Helping patients meet important needs
Health care aides help patients with everyday tasks, like eating, bathing, taking medicine, and getting exercise. For chronically ill or disabled patients, this help is absolutely crucial for maintaining quality of life and personal dignity. Health care aides often report a deep sense of satisfaction knowing they help meet patients' most fundamental human needs.
Helping patients stay in their homes
Many patients would rather remain at home, in familiar surroundings, than move permanently to a long-term care facility or hospital environment. Whether they are working with infants who have special needs or elderly patients in the final stage of life, health care aides make it possible for clients to stay in their homes for longer—or reduce the number of required hospital visits. Patients and their families are usually extremely grateful for this added independence, which is very rewarding for the health care aide.
Feeling like part of the family
Because of the very personal nature of their work, and their close collaboration with patients and relatives, health care aides often feel like part of the family. While nurses and doctors come and go, the health care aide often sits with patients, providing emotional support and companionship. He or she may also provide support to grieving relatives, helping them adjust to their loved one's illness or impending death. This element of closeness can be deeply fulfilling for health care aides.
Career Opportunities for Health Care Aides in Winnipeg
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, health care aides in Winnipeg can expect extremely strong demand for their services in the coming years.
With the highest possible Job Bank rating for employment demand (a five out of five star rating), the profession of health care aide seems to be booming in Manitoba. And the provincial government lists this occupation among those that are expected to face the greatest labour shortages through 2025.
What options exist for health care aides to further their education and career opportunities? After gaining a few years of experience, some aides continue their education to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN).
Interested in learning more about becoming a health care aide?
Consider Herzing College's Health Care Aide training. The diploma program takes just 6.5 months to complete and includes an eight-week internship. Visit the program page to see a complete list of courses or chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!