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A personal care aide is someone who works to help another person complete their daily activities. Personal care aides may work in hospitals, nursing homes, adult daycare centers, or private residences. There are various other names for personal care aides, which include: home health aides, home health assistants, personal care assistants, adult caretakers, and in-home caretakers.
Many people have already encountered personal care aides in hospitals and nursing homes when visiting a loved one. A personal care aide is different from a LPN. A personal care aide is not a nurse or other medical professional, but a trained caretaker. A LPN is a licenced nurse. While sometimes the duties of personal care aides and LPNs may overlap, it is important not to confuse the two, as they are two distinct careers that do have some different duties and requirements.
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A personal care aide provides various services to a person who is unable to care for themself on their own. These duties may include things like cooking food, picking up heavy objects, dressing, bathing, using the restroom, and performing simple housekeeping tasks. The main types of people that personal care aides serve are the physically disabled, the cognitively impaired, the chronically ill, and the elderly.
Some aides work with just one specific client, while others work with several clients individually. Other aides may work with multiple clients at the same time. For example, a live-in residential aid may only have one client. Another residential aide may travel between the homes of clients throughout the day. Other aides may work in group setting like hospitals, nursing homes, and adult daycare centers.
An aide who works in an adult daycare center with the cognitively impaired may, for example, find that their main duty is assisting the individuals they care for in finding and using the restroom. An aide who works for an elderly person at their private residence may need to assist the person with carrying in the groceries, reaching a plate that is on a high shelf, or cutting up vegetables for dinner. Of course, the duties of personal care aides may sometimes go well beyond the simple measures listed here.
In order to be a personal care aide, one needs complete on-the-job training. There is no degree required to be a personal care aide, so even those that did not graduate high school can find employment in this field. Although, someone with an associate's degree may also consider themself to be qualified to be a personal care aide, without needing to complete on-the-job training. However, experience is considered to be a plus by many employers of personal care aides. In certain hospitals or other institutions, potential aides need to attend training and pass a standardized exam before they can be hired. In order to help patients take medication, some states require that personal care aides take other exams or pass certain standards. These exams and standards vary from state to state.
Personal care aides work in a variety of different workplaces. As mentioned above, these workplaces can vary from hospitals, nursing homes, adult daycare centers, and other institutions, to people's private residences. In major cities, most personal care aides are employed in large, group care settings. In rural areas, home care aides are generally employed by individuals to care for them or their family members in their own, private residence. Each of these work settings comes with its own challenges and benefits. The pay varies between work settings as well, but this will be discussed further in the salary section.
Many aides report their jobs to be highly stressful and demanding. Some aides report working more than 40 hours a week. Other aides claim their work is stressful because they constantly have to deal with their clients becoming ill or dying. However, most personal care aides claim they are fulfilled by their work, and enjoy going to work every day.