Health care (PCA) Resources
See how you can become a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) and help people in your community. The need for home care workers is growing!
What do Personal Care Assistants do?
Personal care assistants may also be called personal care attendants, caregivers or home care aides, homemakers or companions. They might live and work with a single person/client or visit several people/ clients. PCAs may work in home health agencies, community residential facilities, or in group homes. Some individuals or families hire PCAs and pay them privately. Sometimes payment is arranged through government funding. Personal care may include giving baths or showers, toileting, dressing and helping people walk or to be as active as possible. They may also do household chores, laundry, or prepare meals.
How much training is needed?
A Home Health Aide (HHA), or a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) usually needs 40 hours of training and the rules are stricter. Sometimes, the employer pays for the training. If the home care jobs include only housekeeping and errands, they do not usually need special training. Some agencies hire PCAs without training if they have experience providing personal care for someone in the past. There is usually some training needed for PCAs, which may be on-the-job training.
See the following link for specifics related to states: http://phinational.org/sites/phinational.org/files/research-report/pca-training-reqs-state-findings.pdf [PDF]
What else does it take to be a PCA?
- Dependable transportation and schedule. You must be there on time and do what is needed.
- Ability to follow instructions, including being careful making meals that follow special diets.
- Ability to work hard physically and to get along with people who may be difficult
- Training as required by your employer (Note: A High School Degree is not required)
- A background check that allows you to work with vulnerable people at the job you apply for.
Take this online PCA training and jump-start your job search
Note: This guide does not a guarantee that you will find a job, but it can help you toward that goal.
The link below is a free online PCA training through Minnesota Health Care Programs that can be used wherever you live. You can choose to take this training in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish, or Vietnamese languages, with a choice of reading level. You must have a computer with internet access and a valid e-mail address.
1. Register and take the PCA Training at http://registrations.dhs.state.mn.us/videoConf/Default.aspx?BusinessUnitID=16
The training may be started and stopped as needed. It takes about 3-4 hours and includes:
- Overview of the PCA program and people (40 min.)
- Emergencies: Be prepared (30 min.)
- Infection control and standard precautions (20 min.)
- Body mechanics (20 min.)
- Understanding behaviors (20 min.)
- Professional boundaries: Child and vulnerable adult maltreatment (20 min.)
- Time cards and documentation (20 min.)
- Fraud (20 min)
- Stress, personal self-care and support for the PCA role (20 min.)
- Resources (as much time as you want)
2. Take the test to verify that you successfully completed the training. Print out the certificate to show people when you are looking for a job. Keep a copy for your records.
3. Learn more skills and safety
Read a Nursing Assistant or Home Health Aide textbook to develop more of your skills. Try ordering one from your library or checking Amazon.com. Providing Home Care: A textbook for Home Health Aides by William Leahy by Hartman Publishing Company is a good choice. Also watch videos about the personal care, nutrition, or mobility skills you are not familiar with. Click here [.docx] to see a list of some YouTube.com videos that are available or search for them yourself. The videos from 4YourCNA, and the CNA State ACMT (Arizona) seem to be well done. Watch Safe Moving and Handling for Caregivers (Circle of Care) 42:54 minutes) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4nFZqqjqT0
4. Practice your skills (Optional)
Click here [.docx] to see and print off a skills checklist. You do not have to complete them all if the job you are looking for does not include those skills. Find a Registered Nurse that is willing to watch you practice your skills and sign the form to say you were competent (optional). If you did not do them correctly, keep practicing, and try again.
5. Write a resume
Click here [.docx] to see a sample resume (a summary of your skills, abilities, and what you have already done that can help you get an interview). Click here [.docx] to see a sample cover letter to send with your resume as you search for jobs.
6. Consider doing a background check on yourself if you want to know what it says. Many states have free online websites. Fill in the blank with the state and search “___ public access to court records”. WI website is at https://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl and MN is at http://www.mncourts.gov/Access-Case-Records.aspx
7. Apply for health care jobs or reply to “Help Wanted” ads. Consider using the Care.com website to post your profile and contact people who are looking for help. You can also contact the Workforce Development Center, Vocational Rehab Center, or Job Service Office in your community for help.
8. (Optional) See how someone who is self-directing their care hires a PCA, http://www.myplacect.org/media/1031/yane_you_are_now_the_employer_handbook.pdf [PDF] It includes a checklist of potential PCA duties and a sample job description.
9. (Optional) Watch this Caregiver’s Tribute video (6 minutes) at http://www.uwosh.edu/ccdet/caregiver/tribute.htm that explains caregiver misconduct and then describes the goodness of caregiving. Enjoy your new role as a home health caregiver!