What does a Personal Care Aide do?

Median Pay $23,210
Growth Rate 41%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A personal care aide assists clients with handicaps, mental impairments, or other physical limitations to manage every day tasks. Many personal care aides assist the elderly and provide caring companionship to them. Personal care aides assist clients who have cognitive impairments with everyday tasks and self-care in their homes, care facilities, or group homes.

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How to Become a Personal Care Aide

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Usually, formal education is not required. However, employers may prefer personal care aides to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. They are typically trained on-the-job by registered nurses, their direct employer, or another personal care aide. Some states want a formal education through a community college or a vocational school.

You are expected to be trained or certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Employers look for important qualities in a candidate as well such as integrity, compassion, interpersonal skills, and physical stamina as you may plan and prepare meals, do light housekeeping, and help with organizing their schedules while arranging transportation to and from the doctors or store.

Job Description of a Personal Care Aide

Personal care aides take clients for walks, talk with them, or engage them by playing games with them. They also help clients with hygiene-related tasks like brushing teeth, bathing, grooming, or going to the bathroom. They help them to get in and out of a wheelchair, climb the stairs, or get in and out of bed. They may also help plan and prepare meals for them and may need to help them eat and drink. It is also plausible that an aide will wash the dishes or do other light housekeeping work like changing bed linens or vacuuming.

Sometimes, clients may need help making appointments or getting to an appointment. A personal care aide would help to arrange that. They may also ensure their client has transportation to and from the store or their appointments. Additionally, he or she may need to help the client manage their money or pay their bills and shop for groceries or personal items.

Companionship is a large part of the duty of a personal care aide. A personal care aide does not provide any medical assistance, but is competent to alert the proper professional when a problem arrises. Most personal care aides work in the personal home of the client and some work in large care communities. He or she must be physically fit as this occupation is physically and mentally challenging. A personal care aide works in small group homes, client’s homes, or in larger care communities. Most aides work full-time while some may only work part-time.

Personal Care Aides Career Video Transcript

Home health aides and personal care aides make a major difference in the lives of their clients, providing essential health care that their families may not be able to offer. Home health aides help the elderly, people with disabilities, and those recovering from illness, with basic healthcare tasks such as changing dressings and administering medications. They monitor their clients’ health and report changes in status to licensed nursing staff, who direct their work.

Personal care aides (sometimes called caregivers or personal attendants) generally provide only non-medical services, including companionship, cleaning, cooking, and driving. Their clients may be elderly, or have developmental or intellectual disabilities. Both personal care aides and home health aides may help with routine tasks like feeding, bathing, and dressing. Most aides work in clients’ homes, but they may also work in group homes, hospice care, and adult daycare facilities. Some see the same client daily for years, while others work with new clients often.

Full-time work is common but many aides work part-time; their schedules generally depend on clients’ needs. Most aides have a high school diploma, although not all positions require it. Jobs in certified home health or hospice agencies require formal training and certification. Some states require additional certification. While these careers can be emotionally and physically demanding, clients and their families rely on the skills and integrity of home health and personal care aides.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Personal Care Aides.

National Center for O*NET Development. 13-2011.01. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.