Personal Care Aide

Blind Aide, Blind Escort, Care Manager, Care Provider, Care Taker, Caregiver   More Names
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Companion, Convalescent Sitter, Direct Care Staffer, Direct Care Worker, Direct Support Professional, Direct Support Staff Member, Elderly Companion, Family Member Caretaker, Geriatric Aide, Geriatric Personal Care Aide, Guardian Family Member, Health Service Worker, Home Care Aide, Home Care Attendant, Home Care Giver, Home Care Provider, Home Health Care Provider, Home Help Aide, Independent Living Specialist, Live in Caregiver, Live-In Caregiver, Medication Aide, Nutrition Aide, Patient Care Assistant (PCA), Personal Assistant, Personal Attendant, Personal Care Aid, Personal Care Aide, Personal Care Aides, Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Personal Care Attendant (PCA), Personal Support Worker, Provider, Resident Assistant, Resident Care Assistant (RCA), Sitter, State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA), Support Staff

Assist elderly, disabled, chronically ill, or mentally-impaired adults with their daily living activities in the person's own home or in a daytime non-residential care facility. Within a home, they do housekeeping tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes and running errands. At a non-residential care facility, personal care aides provide meals and plan and conduct supervised activities. They also advise the adult client and their family members on such things as nutrition, cleanliness, and household utilities.

Personal care aides work primarily for privately-owned companies or non-profit organizations or local, state, or federal government agencies, with about one in ten self-employed. They provide their housekeeping and routine personal care services in a person's own home or in a non-residential care facility during the day. Whichever the setting, the length of time a personal care aide is needed will be determined by each patient's individual situation - from short-term as with recovery from a surgery to long-term as in the case of a terminal illness.

When working for a company, organization, or government agency, personal care aides likely will be supervised by a licensed nurse, social worker, or non-medical manager. In these cases, they receive detailed instructions describing when to visit clients and what services to provide for them, but they actually work largely independent of any on-site supervision. Personal care services may be delivered for one client or several over the course of a day, week, or month.

By contrast, when personal care aides are hired directly by a patient or their family, they are supervised and assigned tasks either by the patient of by the patient's family.

On a day-to-day basis, personal care aides often follow a routine pattern of cooking, cleaning, and other household and personal care tasks, but flexibility in the daily schedule is also needed. For example, some days may be filled with doctor, rehabilitation, or other outside appointments with the patient while others are more stay at home. On heavy outside appointment days, they also may be required to provide transportation either using public means or private vehicles.

Personal care aides need to prepare and keep records of patient/client progress, problems, and services performed, and to report these to managers, supervisors, and family members. They also may be responsible for the routine monitoring of a patient's vital signs and giving medications according to the instructions of registered nurses, doctors, or other medical personnel. Additionally, they participate in case reviews and consult with the entire team that is caring for a patient, helping to assess the client's needs and making plans for continued services. Based on these plans, they will help patients adjust to new personal or family lifestyle changes.

Advancement opportunities for personal care aides can be limited, but a willingness to obtain more education and training in fields such as nursing, for example, can lead to careers as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).

Credentials Needed: There is no state licensing or registration requirements for personal care aides; nor is a particular industry-based certification required for this occupation. However, some states do have requirements that affect the businesses or organizations that employ personal care aides. Personal care aides may choose to voluntarily receive training and credentials in such areas as basic First Aid and CPR. In addition, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) sponsors a voluntary certification for personal and home care aides.

The Home Care Aide Certification program establishes national standards for the preparation of personal and home care aides and is composed of three competency-based elements: training, skills demonstration, and a written exam. The NAHC reports that this program has certified over 25,000 home care aides nationwide since it began.

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) also offers a range of credentials for those who work in wide-range of careers that focus on providing community human services. The entry-level credential, the Direct Support Professional - Registered (DSP-R) and next step credential, the Direct Support Professional - Certified (DSP-C), may offer personal care aides an opportunity to demonstrate and benchmark their professional knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Some Key Things to Remember: Personal care aides work primarily for privately-owned companies or non-profit organizations or local, state, or federal government agencies, with about one in ten self-employed. Personal care aides are not required by law to have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, but many employers prefer these credentials or some postsecondary training.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
26% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $19,180 - $24,860    Hourly: $9 - $12
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

No specifc requirement is identified at this time.

Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

26% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $19,180 - $24,860

Hourly: $9 - $12