For many people, the calling to help others is embedded deep within them. Of course, there are many ways in which one can make a career out of impacting someone else’s life for the better, but the world of healthcare offers some of the most profound opportunities. As we all know, doctors and nurses play a pivotal role in ensuring the population remains as healthy as possible; however, someone with a strong interest in serving others can still become involved in hands-on care outside of a hospital setting. Personal Care Aides are a perfect example of such a role.

Also known as Home Health Aides, Personal Care Aides assist the elderly and those with disabilities or chronic illnesses with their activities of daily living. Interested in learning more about the invaluable service these compassionate caregivers provide? Read on as we discuss the role of the Personal Care Aide and what they do to help others.

What is a Personal Care Aide?

As mentioned, a Personal Care Aide offers hands-on care to those who may not be up to the task due to age or a physical or mental condition. Personal Care Aides often perform their duties in the client’s residence, at a specially designed care facility, or within the confines of a day services program.

What Activities Does a Personal Care Aide Handle?

Personal Care Aides carry out a variety of vital tasks that empower someone to maintain the rigors of daily living. Generally speaking, this includes tasks like assisting with bathing, dressing, using the restroom, and actions that involve mobility. Personal Care Aides will also often lend a hand with housekeeping duties, like cooking and cleaning, running errands, helping with appointment making, and arranging transportation to and from doctor visits and shopping trips.

A Personal Care Aide is often responsible for ensuring their client maintains proper hygiene. The aide may help their client with bathing and other hygiene activities like applying deodorant and brushing their teeth and hair. Personal Care Aides may also wash and fold laundry items.

Regarding housekeeping duties, this often includes chores like vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning bathroom fixtures. Since they may be responsible for selecting groceries and preparing meals, Personal Care Aides should know the importance of proper nutrition and be mindful of any unique dietary restrictions or condition-related restraints their client may have.

One of the most critical responsibilities of a Personal Care Aide is to provide companionship. Most times, someone who needs the assistance of a Personal Care Aide lives alone. Thus, they may be missing out on the type of personal, face-to-face connection we all crave as human beings. Personal Care Aides should be prepared to fulfill the need for companionship, with activities like playing cards or board games, watching television and movies, taking their client out for a nature walk or an appointment at the hair salon, and being available to talk and listen to the individual.

Personal Care Aides usually aren’t tasked with performing medical or healthcare-related duties, but they should be familiar with taking vital signs and administering medication as needed.

Lastly, a quality Personal Care Aide should be a keen observer, noting any areas in which their client appears to be regressing or struggling and reporting such observations to the person’s family or the proper healthcare professionals.

What Should a Personal Care Aide Never Do?

A Personal Care Aide’s primary focus is to help individuals maintain their dignity and live as independently as possible. In performing their duties, a Personal Care Aide should never be rough or physical with the person. Additionally, speaking in a disrespectful tone or using profanity around the person should also never happen. Personal Care Aides should not smoke or use alcohol in their person’s home, wear perfumes or colognes, or dress in attire or jewelry that would inhibit the aide’s ability to provide the necessary care.

While the bond between a Personal Care Aide and their client should be deep and meaningful, maintaining boundaries is critical. For instance, Personal Care Aides should never borrow money or accept gifts from their client.

Because of the nature of the job, Personal Care Aides may be privy to details about their person’s life, health, or physical or mental condition. It is unacceptable for the Personal Care Aide to share those details with anyone outside the person’s inner circle, including their family or healthcare team unless authorized by the individual or their assigned proxy.

What Type of Education or Training Does a Personal Care Aide Need?

The answer to this question will vary depending on where you live and who your employer is. To start, let’s look closer at formalized education. An advanced or college degree is not typically required to be a Personal Care Aide. Some companies request a high school diploma (or equivalent); some don’t even list that as necessary.

Training and regulations required to be a Personal Care Aide vary across the 50 states. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), 14 states have “consistent training requirements” for all agency-employed Personal Care Aides, while seven others have no training regulations. The remaining 29 states and Washington D.C. have requirements that vary based on where the Personal Care Aide works.

Further, 26 states have a minimum number of training hours, 34 states (and Washington D.C.) mandate Personal Care Aids to complete a competency assessment, and 17 states regulate instruction methods. On its website, PHI offers a training requirement summary for each state.

What Makes an Excellent Personal Care Aide?

Besides completing any necessary educational and training requirements, the best Personal Care Aides often share a specific set of soft skills. One must have a penchant or interest in caring for others and be a compassionate person. Personal Care Aids with high emotional intelligence — bolstered by traits like empathy, attentiveness, an ability to communicate effectively, and a willingness to be an active listener — are often the most successful candidates for the job.

Though Personal Care Aides don’t play an active role in healthcare delivery, understanding medical terminology can help one become more proficient at catering to the unique needs of their person.

What Does the Future Look Like for Personal Care Aides?

As long as there are older adults or those grappling with a physical or mental disability, there will always be a need for Personal Care Aides. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for Personal Care Aides is rapidly rising.

The BLS project’s employment needs for home health and Personal Care Aides will grow 25% from 2021 to 2031 — a number that significantly outpaces the average for all occupations. Over that decade, the BLS expects more than 700,000 job opportunities to open each year.

Why Choose At Home Harmony Personal Care Aides?

At Home Harmony’s integrated care model keeps seniors and disabled persons healthier at home. Our personal care aides 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.