We’re often asked: “What do personal care assistants do?”

The answer depends on the needs of the recipient of care! A PCA can help with anything from basic hygiene and grooming to non-medical home care services, such as buying groceries, helping with meal planning, or assisting with transport. 

The majority of a PCA’s tasks are related to home care, non-medical tasks. A PCA is there to support recipients of care with their daily tasks and provide companionship, but this individual is not meant to be a substitute for medical care. The PCA may work closely with a licensed nurse to provide effective, all-round care.

What Do PCAs Do?

A PCA is also often there to monitor and observe the recipient of care’s behavior and to ensure that the individual remains safe and secure within the home. This can be especially important for recipients of care with degenerative illnesses that need to be monitored carefully.

Even within non-medical senior care, sometimes, there becomes a need for a PCA to get involved with medical aid. For example, sometimes, senior recipients of care may struggle to remember what medications they need to take, find it difficult to open or access pill bottles, or face a range of other obstacles. 

Although a PCA is not qualified to provide medical services, they are able to assist recipients of care with administering medications, with the permission of a licensed nurse or other healthcare professional.

Administrating Medication

If you are directed to administer medication, make sure that you fully understand all of the relevant directions. This is especially important for any medications that are prescribed “as needed.” You need to be sure that you understand what situations would meet the requirements for “as needed” and obtain that information from the licensed nurse or other healthcare professional overseeing the care plan.

A PCA might also be asked to perform basic healthcare-related procedures, such as monitoring and recording vital signs. Such tasks should only ever be done with the express approval of a licensed healthcare professional who understands the needs of the recipient of care.

A PCA is not responsible for providing medical services, including

  • Diagnosing conditions
  • Prescribing medication
  • Performing other services that they are not trained for

To learn more, visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services page for details.

Of course, answering the question “What does a PCA worker do?” ultimately depends on the individual. No two recipients of care are the same, so it’s always important to clearly define what’s expected from a PCA as they start working with their recipient of care.

A PCA’s duties may also change over time. Get in touch with a member of our team, today, if you have any questions about this!