As we age, performing even the most basic tasks, like bathing, getting dressed, cooking and cleaning, can become a burden. To assist with daily chores, many elderly and invalid patients turn to a personal care attendant, a person who visits a patient in his home and helps that client with these tasks. The duties of a personal care attendant include making appointments and arranging or providing transportation. Though not required by all employers, certification provides the attendant with additional training and the opportunity for advancement.
Not every state requires personal care attendants to obtain certification. Of the states that do, some only require it for personal care attendants employed by organizations that receive federal aid, such as Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. In some states, like Minnesota, a personal care attendant must earn certification before or immediately after gaining employment.
Several providers sponsor certification for personal care attendants, including community colleges, vocational and technical schools and other educational sources. Industry associations provide certification for personal care attendants, like the designation offered by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Certification also comes from state and local agencies that provide and oversee personal care attendants and other home health care services.
Training and Testing
Earning a certification generally includes training in the form of in-person and online courses, and include education on topics such as personal hygiene, nutrition, infection control and handling emergencies. Some curricula include training in the ethics of personal care services. Training programs can take anywhere from a few days to several months to complete. The certification program from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice consists of 75 training hours, generally completed in two weeks.
Certification programs also require the attendant to take and pass a certification exam. In Minnesota, the training course is voluntary, but the state encourages attendants to take the course to be able to pass the certification exam, which is mandatory to work as a personal care attendant in that state. Along with a written or oral exam, the attendant may also have to take a competency skills test.
The exact requirements for obtaining certification differ from provider to provider but generally include being at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent. Some certification programs require the attendant to complete training and certification in CPR and first aid before starting the program. After receiving certification, a personal care attendant may have to fulfill continuing-education requirements, like taking a certain number of credit hours in related courses each year.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Home Health and Personal Care Aides
- Minnesota Department of Human Services: Individual Personal Care Assistant Training
- Rogue Community College: Personal Care Attendant
- Arkansas Department of Education: Personal Care Certification
- State of New Jersey Health Department: Certification of Nurse Aides in Long-term Care Facilities and Personal Care Assistants in Assisted Living Facilities
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