Health Care Aide Day on October 18 was first created by the government of Manitoba, Canada, to honor healthcare aides. Since these talented professionals work around the clock and in a variety of situations (from acute care to home-, community-, and residential care), they are ever-present caregivers for the sickest and neediest portions of the population. There were over 8,000 healthcare aides in Manitoba, but that number has grown much larger in recent years. In any public healthcare system, healthcare aides are indispensable.
History of Health Care Aide Day
In the 19th century, hospitals were the only source of care for the sick or disabled. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the concept of sending trained health professionals into the places where sick individuals were confined picked up speed. In 1909, MetLife offered their first home health insurance policy, which changed the face of healthcare. In the following 15 years, over a million home health visits took place with the insurance. Communicable disease incidence decreased and it was clear that this new form of healthcare promoted both quality and length of life.
In 1963, when Dame Cicely Saunders gave a lecture at Yale University on the idea of specialized care for those at the end of their lives, further kicked off the home healthcare profession. Only two years later, Dr. Saunders was invited to become a faculty member of Yale School of Nursing by the dean, Florence Wald. Dr. Saunders later established the first hospice center, St. Christopher’s Hospice, in the U.K. in 1967 and Florence Wald created the first hospice center in 1974 in Branford, CT.
In 1975, the first National Symposium on Hospice Care was convened in Connecticut, and in 1979 the National Hospice Organization (NHO) was established to promote hospice care as a concept. 1982 saw big gains for hospice care as Congress passed a provision to create a Medicare hospice benefit, and the NHO’s first television PSA was aired. In 1992, the National Hospice Foundation was established.
1997 saw some losses for healthcare workers, and healthcare aides particularly, when the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 passed. The Act slashed Medicare home benefits, eliminating access to healthcare aides for many needy individuals. As a result, over 3000 home care agencies closed their doors, and there were fewer home health visits. Since then, however, there have been new payment initiatives and plans to make the service more accessible for those in need.
Today, it’s clear that healthcare aides have revolutionized healthcare. Being able to care for the sick and disabled in their own home is infinitely safer, more comfortable, and more dignified than in a hospital. One 2004 study found that around 23 million U.S. households (so, one in five) were caring for a sick or needy individual over the age of 18. This care is expensive — valued by the National Association for Home Care at around $257 billion! Trained, professional healthcare aides can help solve so many of our collective national healthcare issues — and throughout their history, they have.
Health Care Aide Day timeline
The first home health insurance policy is issued by Metropolitan Life — this gives way to a high demand for home health nursing services, especially over the next 15 years.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s groundbreaking book, “On Death and Dying,” outlines the five stages that terminally ill patients will progress through and includes over 500 patient interviews — she would go on to argue before the Senate for the terminally ill to be able to decide between staying at home and end-of-life care.
Congress’ Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 includes a provision for a Medicare hospice benefit.
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 drastically reduces the number of home health visits in the U.S. and shuts down 3,000 home-care agencies by slashing Medicare home benefits.
The U.S. Postal Service introduces a commemorative stamp to honor hospice workers.
Health Care Aide Day FAQs
Are there other holidays on October 18?
Yes! October 18 is also National Chocolate Cupcake Day and National No Beard Day.
Are there other national holidays about healthcare workers?
Yes! National Caregivers Day is the third Friday in February.
Where is Health Care Aide Day celebrated?
Primarily Canada, but also the United States.
How to Observe Health Care Aide Day
Show your love for a healthcare aide
This could look like a plate of homemade cookies, a volunteered night of babysitting so they can relax, or even just a call or a card. All acts of appreciation, small or large, are valuable on this day! Let the healthcare aides in your life know you care about them.
Learn about the profession
Whether your interests lie elsewhere or you’re still deciding what you want to be in life, check out the healthcare aide profession. With an aging population, it’s a steady and (potentially) well-paying job. Besides, a great way to honor healthcare aides is to know what they actually do!
Bring extra visibility to a healthcare aid you know (with their consent) on social media! Post a picture or caption about how much you appreciate the healthcare aides in your life. Someone in your circle might give a little extra appreciation to a healthcare aide they know because of your post!
5 Interesting Facts About Healthcare Aides
It’s a fast-growing profession
With the aging population, more home health and personal care aides are needed than ever — in fact, the job was projected to grow 70% between 2010 and 2020.
It only costs $19/hour
When a company sends a home healthcare aide, the average a few years ago was only $19/hour — remember, after the agency takes a cut, healthcare workers see even less of this money.
Home aide workers didn’t have social security
Until the 1950s, home healthcare aides did not have access to social security benefits, even though the Social Security Act was passed by Congress in 1935.
Many home healthcare workers rely on government assistance
With their extremely low pay and long hours, around 40% of home healthcare aides rely on Medicaid, food stamps, or other government-run public assistance programs.
There are thousands of home healthcare agencies — and it's growing
While in 2001, only 6,861 home healthcare agencies in the United States were Medicare-certified, this number ballooned to around 15,000.
Why We Love Health Care Aide Day
It honors selfless individuals
Healthcare aides are selfless and underpaid individuals whose work makes a huge impact in the lives of the person they are helping and that person’s family and social circle. Healthcare aides do massively important work and deserve both recognition and some time to relax on this day.
It gives great press to the profession
The noble profession of home healthcare workers offers great personal satisfaction through helping others, and is growing rapidly with the aging population! Health Care Aide Day is great press for the profession, and may jumpstart more healthcare-aide careers!
It highlights injustice
For generations, home healthcare workers, aides, and personal care workers have been underpaid and overlooked. Almost half require governmental assistance after agencies take a big cut of their already-low wages. Around 20% say that it’s often a struggle to keep food on the table. For these invaluable members of our society, it’s important to shine a spotlight on how poorly they are treated.
Health Care Aide Day dates