Everything You Need to Know About Being a Personal Care Assistant

PUBLISHED15 May 2024

Ageing people need assistance from someone who can help manage their daily living activities. This is especially true if they wish to live independently in the comfort of a familiar environment.

Providing care in this essence may be one of the most demanding and challenging jobs within the healthcare sector but it also comes with a number of rewards and opportunities that can lead to a gratifying career.

Helping these individuals meet their needs is what a personal care assistant (PCA) is for.

What is a Personal Care Assistant?

In addition to helping older adults, a personal care assistant is also trained to provide a wide range of services to people with physical or mental disabilities. Personal care assistants can look after people in their own homes, as well as in aged care, community care, disability care, or hospital care.

As a part of the personal care assistant role, you’ll have to work closely with health professionals to meet your client’s needs. As such, you will undertake several roles that are focused on:

  • Providing support
  • Helping with daily tasks
  • Assisting doctors in implementing treatment plans

Typically, PCAs monitor, record, and report progress on a clients condition to other medical professionals, such as registered nurses. Some services provided by a personal care assistant, however, extend over to those of other in-home care workers like home health aides (HHA) or nursing assistants. This means they may assist their clients when taking medications or when completing rehabilitation exercises.

Duties of a Personal Care Assistant

Personal care assistants provide personal care services that are part of an individual’s established plans of care. These services include:

  • Maintaining personal hygiene by assisting clients with bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.
  • Handling toileting and incontinence care
  • Shifting from the bed to a chair and other locations
  • Eating meals—for those who have difficulty feeding themselves
  • Following therapy plans, such as interventions to assist individuals with dementia and behavioural problems
  • Observing/reporting changes in patient’s condition
  • Reporting complaints about care
  • Assisting with rehabilitation exercises
  • Implementing basic treatment and delivery of medications

Beyond physical services, your goal as a personal care assistant is to provide companionship to your clients to help maintain their self-worth and dignity. This would ultimately allow them to get a sense of independence they’re longing for.

Tools and Technologies

Some of the equipment you can use as a personal care assistant include:

  • Hoists to lift clients in and out of bed
  • Swivel cushions to assist clients get in and out of vehicles
  • Shower chairs to enable safe showering

Having handy personal hygiene tools, such as shavers and nail trimmers would be essential as well.

For clients with physical disabilities like loss of hearing or sight, you may also use special communication technology.

Paying for Personal Care Services

Personal care assistant services are often paid by clients out of pocket. However, there are individuals who may be qualified for programs run by local and state social service agencies. A waiver services program, for example, allows eligible people to receive medical assistance and personal care services.

Social services agencies may also offer alternative care programs that deliver home and community-based services for people who require skilled nursing care but choose to stay in their homes rather than move into a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

In many cases, personal care assistants are employed by home care agencies. But there are also instances when PCAs may work as independent contractors. Choosing the latter means you’ll have to handle your personal taxes.

However, a family or an individual who will hire you for private duty is considered a private employer. Therefore, they must pay your Social Security, unemployment, and payroll taxes.

How to Become a Personal Care Assistant

If you want to know how to become a personal carer, you must first have all the required skills and be compassionate, which will help you build trust and develop a relationship with people who will need your services.

You will also need to have completed the CHC33021 Certificate III Individual Support (Ageing) or CHC43015 Certificate IV in Ageing Support.

As part of personal care assistant qualifications, employers will be looking for PCAs with skills in the following areas:

  • First Aid
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Good Communication
  • Organisation
  • Meal Preparation
  • Home Care
  • Computer Literacy
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Sensitivity
  • Time Management

Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Personal Care Assistant?

For older adults or people with disabilities, having someone whom they can trust and help manage their daily activities ultimately improve their quality of life. This is what makes personal care assistance a fulfilling work.

If you have a passion for helping someone empower themselves through personal care services, as well as emotional support, consider studying Certificate 3 in Individual Support Ageing now.

Kirana Colleges can help you acquire the needed skills and qualifications to get you job-ready and start helping individuals in need, as well as their families. Get in touch with our course and careers advisors today.

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