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What Is The Difference Between A Caregiver And PCA?

September 1, 2023

As aging folks begin to enter the later stages of their life, they require more care and support, typically both from their surrounding family and friends and often beyond what those precious groups can provide. Commonly, elderly individuals hire a personal care assistant (or PCA), a caregiver (or companion caregiver), or both. Let’s examine the difference between these two important roles.


What Is the Role of a Personal Care Assistant?

A Personal Care Assistant, Personal Support Worker, or In-Home Companion Care is someone who provides essential assistance to individuals who cannot do so themselves, typically due to illness, disability, or old age. 


PCAs aim to help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life, typically joining a person in their home or assisted living facility and helping out with specific tasks as they pertain to that individual’s needs. In elderly care, PCAs are usually in charge of an individual’s ADLs, or their “activities of daily living,” spanning functions like eating, bathing, and getting around. 


Here is what a sample PCA job description could look like:

  • Assist with basic activities that are necessary for daily life, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and mobility assistance.
  • Prepare meals, ensure that the client’s nutritional needs are met, and assist with feeding if necessary.
  • Remind clients to take their prescribed medications on time (although typically PCAs do not administer them).
  • Help clients move around their space or outside, using assistive devices like wheelchairs or walkers or transporting them otherwise to appointments and errands.
  • Assist with household tasks such as laundry, light housekeeping, etc.
  • Monitor client’s health and well-being, reporting changes to relevant family members or healthcare workers.
  • Find out what Home Health Aid Cost Per Hour.


What Is the Job Description of a Caregiver?

A caregiver, on the other hand, is typically an in-home care provider who provides non-medical care to seniors aging in their own homes. Caregivers don’t need a specific kind of degree but do typically take a few training courses and get their CPR certification before helping care for the elderly or other age groups. 


Caregivers play a crucial role in helping individuals maintain their quality of life. Their most common function is to provide companionship, but they can also help out with many day-to-day tasks.


Here is a sample caregiver job description:

  • Assist with ADLs, mobility, and basic health tasks.
  • Engage in client conversations, provide emotional support, and participate in recreational activities.
  • Prepare meals and ensure that the client’s nutritional needs are met.
  • Remind clients to take their prescribed medications on time.
  • Assist with household tasks such as laundry, light housekeeping, etc.
  • Monitor client’s health and well-being, reporting changes in health, behavior, or emotional state to relevant family members or healthcare workers.
  • Assist with transporting them to appointments and outings.
  • Work closely with family members, healthcare professionals, and other caregivers or PCAs.
  • Provide emotional support and companionship.


What Is the Difference Between a Personal Assistant and a Caregiver?

The main difference between care workers and care assistants is that a personal care assistant is a more formalized caregiving role, as they often are trained to care for people in a variety of settings and obtain a certification for their skills. Caregivers, while providing companionship and general help, are generally not trained to help with more intensive tasks such as dressing, grooming, toileting, bathing, etc. 


So, while PCAs primarily focus on assisting individuals with performing ADLs and ensuring their personal care needs are met, caregivers have a broader role that encompasses not only personal care but also emotional support and companionship. 


Is a Caregiver Considered a Healthcare Worker?

While some caregivers are considered healthcare workers, and being CPR certified is required by many employers, most caregiving work is not medical by nature. Caregivers can come from a range of backgrounds, and while some take formal caregiving courses or obtain nursing degrees, it is not necessary to the profession. Learn about the Average Cost of In Home Care.


What Are Caregivers Not Allowed to Do?

There are some rules for home health aides and caregivers, but they depend on what training and qualifications that caregiver possesses, as well as the regulations of the region and the needs of the individual they’re helping. There are, however, a few tasks that caregivers should generally not do without proper training and permission, including:


  • Medical procedures
  • Medical administration (i.e., giving medication)
  • Medical diagnosis
  • Medical equipment management
  • Legal or financial decision-making
  • Physical or occupational therapy


Need Help Finding the Right Caregivers for Your Loved One?

Both caregivers and PCAs can help alleviate feelings of loneliness for the elderly and provide helpful services around the residence to keep seniors thriving. If you’re looking for help with how best to meet your aging loved one’s needs, reach out to us today. Senior Home Companions offers flexible caregiver schedules and a strong caregiver network to provide continued support and companionship whether your aging loved one is in assisted living or still in their home.