The healthcare industry encompasses a broad spectrum of roles and responsibilities, from businesses that manufacture devices and medications to insurers that provide coverage and the practitioners that deliver care. But, the deeper you get into the world of healthcare, the easier it can become to get lost in a sea of similar-sounding names and acronyms. For instance, an MD or a Doctor of Medicine is technically different from a DO or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Interestingly, both MDs and DOs have all the same rights and responsibilities, and one is not better than the other — but their educational paths and approaches to medicine differ.

Personal Care Aides and Home Health Aides sound similar, and in some respects, their duties overlap. Both these roles provide an invaluable service to those they help, but the ways they work, the tasks they complete, and even the training these two positions undergo can be different. To clarify Personal Care Aides vs. Home Health Aides, we took the time to recap some of their similarities and differences below.

What Are Personal Care Aides?

Personal Care Aides are ideal for someone who struggles with activities of daily living and needs assistance completing everyday tasks. That usually includes the elderly or someone with a physical or mental disability. Personal Care Aides make daily living and maintaining some semblance of independence possible by completing tasks or assisting in completing tasks that the person may not be able to do on their own.

What Are Home Health Aides?

Home Health Aides are similar to Personal Care Aides in that they may help someone with daily living activities, but their responsibilities also extend into healthcare-related tasks. Home Health Aides are particularly important for someone who requires regular supervision, medical equipment, or complex medications.

What Tasks Do Personal Care Aides Handle?

It’s fair to say that Personal Care Aides provide a holistic service that goes deeper and is more extensive than what caregiving family members may be able to provide. But, generally speaking, the tasks completed by Personal Care Aides will fall within two distinct buckets: household duties and personal-care duties.

Household duties include daily activities like cooking and cleaning. It’s common for a Personal Care Aide to be responsible for vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. A Personal Care Aide may also assist with keeping furniture orderly, making the bed, washing and drying dishes, and generally ensuring the house remains tidy.

On the personal-care side, someone who needs a Personal Care Aide will likely require assistance with toileting, bathing, applying deodorant, brushing teeth and hair, and washing dirty clothes. Additionally, because this person is usually elderly or disabled, mobility and transportation are likely concerns. As such, Personal Care Aides may need to support their efforts to move throughout the house safely and either provide or arrange for transportation to doctor visits, shops, and other appointments.

One key aspect of a Personal Care Aide’s job is meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. A consistently nutritious diet is essential for all people. That means the Personal Care Aide must have a good grasp of healthy meal planning and be aware of any dietary restrictions or condition-related specifics that can affect what someone eats.

And, of course, providing companionship to that person is essential as it can boost both mental and physical health.

What Tasks Do Home Health Aides Handle?

Personal Care Aides and Home Health Aides perform many of the same tasks for their clients. For example, like Personal Care Aides, Home Health Aides may pitch in and help with tasks like grooming, bathing, transportation, meal preparation, and cooking — however, this is not their main priority. While Personal Care Aides strongly focus on housekeeping and personal care tasks, Home Health Aides focus more on basic healthcare services.

Some typical tasks that a Home Health Aide might take on include measuring and recording vital signs, assisting with and operating medical equipment, and administering medications that are more complex than simply swallowing a pill. Some people who require Home Health Aides have artificial limbs or braces, so a person in this position must be comfortable supplying care around these devices and treating the surrounding skin.

Though Home Health Aides play an essential role in healthcare delivery, they also provide companionship (in the same way Personal Care Aides do) through social interaction.

What Type of Education and Training Do Personal Care Aides Require?

The answer here will vary based on location, but we can say across the board that a college degree is not typically required to become a Personal Care Aide. In most cases, a high school diploma (or equivalent) is sufficient — some employers may not even require that.

States vary on what training, if any, is required to qualify for a Personal Care Aide position. In the states that do require training, required training hours may also vary from state to state. Fortunately, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) has an online summary for each state on its website.

What Type of Education and Training Do Home Health Aides Require?

Because Home Health Aides are involved in care delivery, the requirements to become one are more stringent than you might find for Personal Care Aides. No formal education or college degree is required. Still, federal legislation dictates that Home Health Aides must complete a set number of training hours if the agency they work for is Medicare-certified.

PHI reports, “Federal regulations require that these training programs consist of at least 75 hours of training, including at least 16 hours of supervised practical or clinical training and 12 hours of continuing education per each 12-month period.” Further, 17 states and the District of Columbia have requirements in place that exceed the minimum federal standard of 75 training hours. Several states even mandate that Home Health Aides become Certified Nurse Aides, a distinction that carries an added set of requirements.

Where Do Personal Care and Home Health Aides Work?

We grouped Personal Care and Home Health Aides together for this section because their settings are often the same. In both cases, it’s likely for someone in one of these roles to work in their client’s home. Additionally, they could work in a group home or the site of a day services program, but those are less likely.

What Types of Schedules Do Personal Care and Home Health Aides Keep?

Personal Care and Home Health Aides have similar schedules. The number of hours and time of day or night worked are dictated mainly by the needs of the person requiring assistance. Additionally, full- and part-time work can be found for both positions, depending on the needs of the client and their level of independence.

Why Choose At Home Harmony for your Personal Care Needs?

At Home Harmony’s integrated care model keeps seniors and disabled persons thriving at home. The quality personal care aides staff are backed by this robust model in which advanced medical providers, pharmacy, and technology are all working together to ensure the very best care for our clients. With At Home Harmony, personal care clients and their loved ones can rest assured they will stay “Happy. Healthy. Home.” Contact us today to learn more.