Caregiver Types and Qualifications

Which Caregiver Do You Need?

When it comes time to hire a caregiver for your aging family member, to make sure that your loved one receives the best care it’s important to know the difference between a Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Home Health Aide (HHA), and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

PCAs, HHAs, and CNAs all work with seniors and disabled patients on a daily basis. They help with everyday homemaking and companion care activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, toileting, moving around, running errands, and performing light housekeeping tasks.

However, there is a difference between PCAs, HHAs, and CNAs.

PCAs: There is no training requirement for a PCA. A PCA provides care at home and helps with tasks such as Caregiver - Qualified Caregiver Helping A Nice Ladybathing, shopping, homemaking and running errands. On average a PCA makes about $9-13/hour.

HHAs: In Massachusetts, there is training provided for HHAs, although requirements vary by state. HHAs provide personal care at home, including in private homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, group homes, or other transitional housing. Many Community colleges and vocational schools provide HHA Training or have an HHA component in their CNA training programs. On average an HHA makes about $9-13/hour.

CNAs: Unlike PCAs and HHAs, CNAs may work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP). They perform medical-related tasks such as taking vital signs, changing dressings, cleaning catheters, controlling infections, and administering treatments. Specifically, HHAs work with patients at home. CNAs may also work in hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, day care centers, and skilled nursing facilities. In Massachusetts, CNAs must complete a state-approved training, which includes the HHA training. On average, CNA wages are slightly higher than for an HHA. In Massachusetts, a CNA makes about $12-$15/hour.

Caregiver - Someone Helping An Old Lady UpThe choice of using a PCA, HHA, or CNA depends on the level of the patient’s care and medical needs. If you are not sure, it is a good idea to get an evaluation and recommendation from an independent care manager or other qualified professional before making a hiring decision. You can also contact us with any questions (1-888-541-1136)

For more, read our blog for more information and resources for any questions you have about finding and hiring caregivers for your loved one.


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