Many types of workers provide home care
“Home care” is a simple phrase that encompasses a wide range of health and social services. Here’s a review of the various types of workers who could be on your home support team:
Assistive care providers
Assistive care is non-medical supportive care. The services provided by assistive care personnel can range from helping with personal care (e.g., bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, toileting and moving) to light housekeeping, grocery shopping and preparing meals. Some assistive care providers are also able to provide limited assistance with medications.
Assistive care providers may have different titles, including personal care aide (PCA), home health aide (HHA), and certified nurse assistant (CNA). Although the job responsibilities may be similar, there are differences among the three in terms of training requirements and the tasks they are legally permitted to do.
Personal care aides
Personal care aides provide personal care in addition to other services, such as cleaning, running errands, preparing meals, and arranging for transportation.
Unlike home health aides and certified nurse assistants, personal care aides do not support the delivery of healthcare. There are no federally-mandated training requirements for personal care aides, although some states or employers may require personal care aides to complete a training program.
Home health aides
Home health aides assist clients with personal care tasks (such as bathing and dressing), light housekeeping tasks (such as laundry and vacuuming), and tasks related to preparing and serving meals (such as grocery shopping and cooking).
They may also provide some basic healthcare-related services — such as measuring vital signs, administering medications, or assisting with medical equipment — under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional.
Although formal training is not required to become a home health aide, home health aides who work for a Medicare-certified home health agency must be certified. To achieve certification, a home health aide candidate must complete a minimum of 75 hours of formal training and pass the state’s certification examination.
Home health aides who do not work for Medicare-certified home health agencies may only be required to complete an employer’s on-the‐job training program.
Certified nursing assistants
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) assist with the delivery of nursing care by performing basic nursing tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN).
Examples of basic nursing tasks include helping with personal hygiene and grooming, assisting with toileting, helping clients to move from place to place, helping clients to eat, changing bed linens, measuring vital signs, and assisting with range-of-motion exercises and other therapies.
Some certified nurse assistants receive additional training that allows them to assist with medications or other more advanced nursing procedures.
Certified nursing assistants who work in the home setting may also perform light housekeeping duties related to maintaining a clean environment or ensuring proper nutrition (e.g., laundry, meal preparation).
All certified nursing assistants must complete a minimum of 75 hours of training through a state-approved training program and pass the state’s certification exam.
Skilled care providers
Skilled care providers, such as nurses and therapists, often are part of the home healthcare team. In addition to providing direct care, skilled care providers may be involved in overseeing the care you receive and managing other care providers.
Generally speaking, the tasks that skilled care providers perform are those that require specialized knowledge and advanced training to do safely.
In our next Housing & Home Care section, we will describe the different types of agencies where you can hire home care providers.
Excerpted with permission from the ALS Association.