What is a PCA? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What is a PCA? A PCA is known as a Personal Care Aide. The PCA help patients and clients with self-care and everyday tasks, and provide companionship. Personal care aides are a vital piece of in-home care and serve as both physical and emotional support for clients and their families.

Most personal care aides work in clients’ homes, while others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some PCA’s are hired directly or privately by the client’s family, but many are employed by agencies that provide in-home services/care.

Did you know? PCA’s held about 1.2 million jobs in 2012. Employment of PCA’s are projected grow 49% from 2012 to 2022, which is must faster than the average for all occupations!

Educational Requirements: A PCA typically does not need a high school diploma, license or certification, but they may need some requirements set by their state or employer. For example, some aides might need to learn basic emergency and safety techniques, or may be asked to cook with specific dietary restrictions.

Training: Aides may be trained on the job by registered nurses, other PCA’s, or their direct employer. They are trained in specific tasks, such as how to deal with a client who has a cognitive impairment and how to assist a client in preparing meals with certain dietary restrictions.

Certain states require formal education or training programs available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home health care agencies. Some states and organizations may conduct background checks on prospective personal care aides. A competency evaluation or check may be required to ensure that the aide can perform required tasks.

Most employers require all personal care aides to have training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

*Under Five Star Home Health Care, we provide a FREE PCA class. This consists of 26 hours of online training, and 2 full days of in-office skills demonstration. This provides many benefits, such as guaranteed employment with our agency, working in private homes, and the PCA certification can be used statewide!

Work Environment: As of 2018, Personal care aides held about 2.4 million jobs. Below are percentages of the largest employers of PCA’s:

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 50%
Home healthcare services 15%
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 9%
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for elderly 7%
Private households 4%

Job Requirements of a PCA:

  • Concern Over Detail. Although every client you serve is different, some individuals need to maintain regular, timely schedules or routines. This means administering medication several times a day, or following specific dietary/physical rules.
  • Personal care aides should make clients feel comfortable when they tend to personal activities, such as bathing or dressing. Aides must also be trustworthy and reliable so that the clients and their families can trust them.
  • People Skills. As said above PCA needs good interpersonal skills. Every client is different and the PCA must understand that everyone has an unique set of needs. The aide must be able to interact well with a wide range of clients, even when said clients are being difficult, confused, depressed, or weak. PCA’s must be compassionate, patient, sensitive, and empathetic.
  • Physical Strength. Being a PCA is a demanding job and must have a formidable level of physical strength to succeed. They’ll be often required to move patients, assist them in and out of wheelchairs, help them into the bathtub or out, pick up a client after a trip or fall, etc. This requires the PCA to be in strong, stable condition.
  • Good Time Management Skills. Aides must be able to not only manage and maintain their own schedules, but the schedules of their client(s) as well. This means ensuring clients wake up on time, make it to appointments, preparing meals on regular basis, and taking their daily medications.

Job Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Care for and assist clients with cognitive impairments (ex: Alzheimer’s or mental illness)
  • Provide companionship
  • Personal hygiene, bathing, grooming, brushing, going to restroom
  • Transfer clients from bed to wheelchair or vice versa
  • Housekeeping tasks (ex: changing bed sheets, wash dishes, clean living areas)
  • Prepare and plan meals
  • Organize client’s schedule and administer appointments
  • Arrange transportation to and from doctor’s visits
  • Help clients pay bills or manage money
  • Shop for groceries and other personal items

Why Choose Five Star Home Health Care? Client’s and their families may seem hesitant and nervous when seeking after personal care aides that they can trust. One concern some families may have are individuals that have acted as aides only to be involved with identity theft and stealing of their personal, valuable possessions. This has been a concern and issue. However under Five Star Home Health Care, we hire only within the highest standards and complete extensive background checks to ensure that those we employ provide the best, professional care for everyone.

Here is a video of Luisa Ranson, Director of Personal Care, assuring why we excel in home health care.