What Does a Personal Care Aide Do? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A personal care aide may help assist people who have physical disabilities.
A personal care aide may help assist people who have physical disabilities.

A Personal Care Aide (PCA) provides assistance to people with disabilities and older adults who need help with tasks like housekeeping, errands, and personal hygiene. The exact tasks performed can depend on the specifics of an agreement with a client. These allied health professionals help people retain independence. It may be possible to live at home or in a community-based residential center with help from a personal care aide, instead of moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility.

A personal care aide may help seniors with fitness therapy.
A personal care aide may help seniors with fitness therapy.

Some people qualify for government assistance that will pay for a personal care aide. The number of hours the government pays for can depend on the level of assistance someone needs. Some people with disabilities, for example, may need an aide at all times, while others need periodic assistance. Insurance may also cover the cost, and people can pay out of pocket or seek assistance from a community organization.

Some clients need a personal care aid to prepare meals.
Some clients need a personal care aid to prepare meals.

Housekeeping can be part of the work of a personal care aide if the client has trouble with every day tasks like doing dishes, vacuuming, or handling the laundry. Some clients need help preparing meals and establishing nutritional plans. Assistance with errands in the form of picking up medications and other products, or helping the client while out and about, can also be part of the job. Some personal care aides also facilitate communication and may assist clients with tools used to facilitate direct communication for people who are nonverbal.

Personal care aides provide emotional as well as physical support to patients.
Personal care aides provide emotional as well as physical support to patients.

Some assistance with personal care like bathing, toileting, and grooming can also be part of the job. Clients who use wheelchairs may need help with transfers. Advanced medical care is not provided by a personal care aide; a nurse or similar medical professional needs to perform injections, wound care, and other services. Sometimes clients have temporary medical issues that may require the services of a visiting nurse in addition to a PCA.

Personal care aides assist with wound care.
Personal care aides assist with wound care.

The level of assistance needed can depend on the nature of a patient’s disabilities, and is typically agreed upon in a care contract that specifies the services provided. Personal care aides can work with people who have chronic illnesses, physical disabilities, cognitive impairments, and other issues. In some regions they must complete a set amount of training and receive a license. Regulations in other areas do not require this, and allow anyone to work as a personal care aide. The job can include opportunities like paid travel with clients who need assistance while traveling for vacations, conferences, and other activities.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • A personal care aide may help assist people who have physical disabilities.
      A personal care aide may help assist people who have physical disabilities.
    • A personal care aide may help seniors with fitness therapy.
      A personal care aide may help seniors with fitness therapy.
    • Some clients need a personal care aid to prepare meals.
      Some clients need a personal care aid to prepare meals.
    • Personal care aides provide emotional as well as physical support to patients.
      Personal care aides provide emotional as well as physical support to patients.
    • Personal care aides assist with wound care.
      Personal care aides assist with wound care.