Career Profile: Personal and Home Care Aides
Nurses and doctors in a hospital aren’t the only medical professionals who might be involved in giving care when someone is sick. Personal and home care aides are another tier of medically trained care providers who are instrumental in helping patients take care of themselves and remain in their homes while dealing with illness, injury, or disability.
Personal care and home care are two different services these aides can perform; some aides will only do one or the other, while some aides will do both. It often depends on the company they work for, and the specific position they were hired for.
Personal care aides provide personal care within the patient’s home, such as assisting with hygiene and bathing, changing non-sterile wound dressings, dressing and undressing, reminding and assisting with taking medication or checking blood glucose levels.
Home care aides provide other types of care required by patients who are living at home while ill or injured, such as preparing and serving meals, feeding, washing dishes, doing laundry, changing bed sheets, and grocery shopping.
Most personal care and home care workers do not need to hold advanced nursing or medical certifications, however a college diploma or certificate in a Health Care Aide, Personal Support, Home Care or related educational program is required. Some provinces may also require additional certifications, or registration with a licensing board or other regulatory body.
One of the key abilities of anyone working in the home care and personal support industry is a strong sense of compassion for others, and the desire to help people live a better, more dignified life no matter their physical or mental condition. It’s important to keep in mind that this can be a demanding job for the care worker, as well, both physically and mentally. However, it is also extremely rewarding.
Most home care and personal care aides start at minimum wage in their province when they begin their career, typically between $11 and $15 per hour. You can earn more depending on where you’re employed and whether you’re trained in any specialty care, such as caring for patients who have Alzheimer’s, specific disabilities or diseases, and children with cognitive or physical disabilities. As care aides gain experience, you can earn wages up to $40 to $30 per hour, again depending on your province and specific job role.
As a home and personal care worker, you could be employed in a variety of ways, including working for a charitable or non-profit healthcare organization, as a live-in caregiver, a respite shift worker, or at a healthcare facility such as a hospital or nursing home. Many care aides also work independently, and build their own list of regular clients for whom they perform care. Independent aides will typically find work through word of mouth and referrals from existing patients and their families, and are responsible for managing their own schedules and maintaining their training and equipment.