Personal Care Attendant Job Description, Duties and Career Options

Sep 11, 2019

Working as a personal care attendant requires no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Personal care attendants are aides who work in hospitals or a client's home. They must have compassion, patience, and a good sense of awareness. Let's take a better look at what this job entails and the career options of a personal care attendant.

Essential Information

Personal care attendants offer aide services to the disabled, elderly and mentally challenged. They often work in clients' homes, but may also find positions within hospitals or private practices. No formal education is required to work as a personal care attendant, also called a personal care aide, as on-the-job training by supervisory aides or nurses is provided following employment.

Required Education High school diploma and on-the-job training
Certification Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 36% for personal care aides
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $24,020 for personal care aides

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Personal Care Attendant Job Description

Personal care attendants (PCAs) help disabled, chronically ill and cognitively challenged older people. Some personal care attendants simply assist recently released patients who have short-term needs. In many cases, they take care of these clients in their homes.

They may also provide their services in hospices or other medical facilities to keep clients involved in community activities. Their presence is often required for the elderly or the physically and/or mentally disabled who need more help than their family or friends are able to sustain.

Personal care attendants are also known as personal and home care aides, companions and caregivers. One attendant may have four or five clients at a time, which requires that they carefully block out their time between clients.

Job Duties

Personal care attendants offer services based on the specific needs of their clients, so their daily tasks vary. Some may do minor housework, such as laundry, food shopping and meal preparation. Aides often help clients get into and out of bed and dress and undress. They also run errands, along with bathing and grooming the care receiver.

Depending on the personal care attendant's specialty, one may also provide psychological support and instruction for their families on nutrition and medicine. Other tasks that aides perform are emptying bedpans, changing soiled bed linens and caring for disoriented patients. It is important for personal care attendants to be able to communicate with their clients, be able to read nonverbal and verbal body language and be able to respond properly to emergencies.

Career Options

Career advancement for personal care attendants is limited. An experienced personal care aide may choose to run his or her own care agency or work as a self-employed aide with no supervisory instruction. In this case, attendants may find their own clients, set their own fees and arrange their own working schedules.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most personal care attendant positions can be found in home health care agencies, individual and family service agencies, residential care facilities and private households. Some PCAs may wish to advance their careers by entering into training to become nursing aides or registered nurses.

As we have seen, personal care attendants engage in a broad range of activities, dependent on the needs of the client, who may be elderly, or physically/mentally challenged. These attendants can work for an individual client, usually assigned by a family member, or obtain employment in medical facilities. Only on-the-job training is required to enter this rapidly-growing field.

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