Personal Support Worker: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a personal support worker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and regulations to find out if this is the career for you.

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The amount of education and type of training required to be a personal support worker varies depending on the personal support role. Personal support workers is a term used to categorize several professions that provide assistance to individuals in their homes. This can include nursing assistants, personal care aides, home health aides, and social workers.

Essential Information

Personal support workers is a broad category that can include social workers, caregivers, and home care aides. Social workers help their clients deal with problems in their everyday lives by identifying those problems and then referring their clients to groups or agencies that can provide assistance. Depending on the position, social workers usually need a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, and all states require licensure.

Caregivers and home care aides provide personal assistance to the elderly, the disabled, or those who are dealing with some sort of impairment. Postsecondary education isn't required for this position; most employers provide on-the-job training. However, federal regulations come into play when Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are involved. Someone who enjoys helping others and is interested in the health profession may find this to be a rewarding career field.

Career Social Worker Home Health Aide
Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in social work On-the-job training
Other Requirements 2 years experience and state licensure or certification 75 hours of training followed by a test (if working with a federal program)
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% (for social workers, all others) 37% (home health and personal care aides)
Median Salary (2018)* $63,140 (for social workers, all others) $24,200 (home health aides)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Personal Support Worker Job Description

Different fields employ personal support workers to perform a variety of tasks in adult day care centers, assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, or private residences. In 2010, the National Association of Social Workers stated that there were more U.S. citizens 65 and older than there were adolescents, creating numerous opportunities for caregivers to provide support, advice, planning information, and hands-on medical assistance. Personal support is also necessary for those who, for physical or mental reasons, cannot perform everyday tasks on their own.

Alternate job titles for personal support workers include home health care aide, personal care attendant, and certified nursing assistant. They often work under the supervision of a social worker or registered nurse, and with proper education and training, can advance to those positions within a health care organization.

Personal Support Worker Duties

Personal support worker duties vary depending on the facility and title, though they can include general housekeeping, personal hygiene assistance, bedside care, dispersion of medication, and transportation. Those who advance to become registered nurses provide advice and planning for patients and their families after a doctor has prescribed treatment. Social workers educate and distribute information about activities, support, and community groups for the elderly or disabled and could also manage treatment and counseling in substance abuse programs.

Personal Support Worker Requirements

State educational requirements for personal and home health care workers vary. In many instances, on-the-job training provided by supervising nurses or social workers is sufficient for many personal support workers. Federal regulations require those who receive government funding through organizations, such as Medicare or Medicaid, must participate in at least 75 training hours and be tested on safety, emergency response, nutrition, and basic medical monitoring skills. Some states also require annual continuing education for home health workers.

Additionally, professional organizations offer certification programs for certified nurse assistants, licensed practical nurses, and licensed vocational nurses. Various colleges and universities offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs in nursing. Social workers usually need at least a bachelor's degree in social work, though many supervisory positions require a master's degree.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of home health aides is projected to rapidly increase through 2028, as one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. The employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 12%, and healthcare social workers will likely see job opportunities expand by 17%, in May 2018.

The salaries earned by personal support workers vary by field, education, and experience. The BLS published the following median salaries earned by personal support workers in May 2018: personal care aides, $24,020; nursing assistant, $28,540; healthcare social worker, $56,200; registered nurse, $71,730.

Personal support workers provide services to clients in their homes. This term encompasses healthcare social workers, nursing assistants, registered nurses, health care aides and personal care aides. The training required varies depending on the specific role. Demand for in-home care is increasing and all of these careers can expect to see what the BLS considers to be faster than average job growth (when compared to all occupations) from 2018-2028.

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