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Personal Care Assistant Education Requirements

Majors Overview February 7, 2013

The needs of those who are elderly, ill or otherwise in need of assistance with everyday tasks are served by personal care assistants (PCAs). Those who aspire to this position need medical experience that can occur in the form of a PCA certification course or training supervised by a registered nurse.

Overview of Personal Care Assistant

Individuals who are challenged cognitively, or are elderly, chronically ill or disabled, receive support from personal care assistants (PCAs). PCA’s services are often offered to clients in their homes; these professionals also work in other settings such as hospices and involve clients in community activities. Personal care assistant presence is typically required when mentally, physically, or elderly disabled clients need more assistant than their friends or family is able to sustain on their own.

Their services vary depending on the specific requirements of clients and can include minor tasks of housework such as preparing meals, shopping for food, and doing the laundry. In many instances, personal care assistants help their clients bathe and groom, run errands for them, dress and undress them and get them in and out of bed. Base on the specialty of the personal care attendants, they could provide instructions to families about nutrition and medicine along with psychological support to their clients. These professionals may also care for disoriented patients, change soiled bed linens, empty bedpans, among other tasks.

Education Requirements

There are no specific educational prerequisites that are required to be satisfied by prospective personal care assistant who do not even need to complete a high school diploma program to get employment. They undergo training, in the care of clients, under supervisors, registered nurses, and other experienced care givers. A personal care assistant may be trained by an employer to perform tasks in a specific manner and to take a competency test.

Personal Care Assistant Training Overview

PCAs can also choose from training programs offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, which offers certification to the effect that industry standards have been met by the assistant. Such formal certification programs often run for forty to seventy-five hours; thereafter, a registered nurse who was observing will assess the personal care attendant’s capability in seventeen competency skills. Coursework could include subject areas such as physical and developmental disabilities, gerontology, death and dying, and physical and developmental disabilities. Students also gain instruction on topics such as infection management, medication administration, communicable disease control, emergency medical response, temperature and monitoring of pulse rate and blood pressure; in addition, knowledge of CPR and basic first aid. Client-specific learning subjects could include sanitary housekeeping, cooking special diets, and bathing and grooming.

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