People who are ill or otherwise impaired sometimes need a personal care attendant (PCA) to assist them. Nursing homes sometimes employ PCAs, as do visiting nurse associations. Sometimes PCAs are privately hired by a family member. This is often the case when an adult child is concerned about his or her elderly parent. A PCA can be hired to assist the senior in the home on a part or full-time basis.
PCAs assist people in many ways. They assist people with dressing, doing laundry and transferring in and out of bed. PCAs also do light housekeeping and cleaning. They sometimes go shopping for their clients, or bring them to doctor's appointments. They might help their clients visit relatives and friends, or the park on a nice day. PCAs can also read to clients and simply keep them company.
The work can be physically challenging as some patients are overweight or difficult to move. Some PCAs train in how to transfer a person from a wheelchair to a hospital bed. There is special equipment that is used to do this. Vacuuming a home and doing laundry can be laborious. Patients can sometimes be difficult to work with, due to emotional or cognitive problems. Besides the physical labor involved, PCAs also need to be patient and compassionate. They frequently must fill out paperwork to let their supervisors know what tasks were completed.
Because people need care 24 hours a day, PCAs can work all hours of the day or night. They usually work in shifts, and nights and weekends are common. PCAs who work privately often do it part-time, but those who work in nursing homes can often apply for full-time hours.
PCAs usually attend a course and need to pass a test to be certified. Each state is different, and agencies and hospitals might have different terms of employment.
Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Tasks
- Participate in case reviews, consulting with the team caring for the client, to evaluate the client's needs and plan for continuing services.
- Instruct, advise and perform housekeeping duties and running errands.
- Prepare and maintain records of client progress and services performed, reporting changes in client condition to manager or supervisor.
- Administer bedside and personal care, such as ambulation and personal hygiene assistance.
- Train family members to provide bedside care.