There are over 4.5 million professional caregivers, or “direct-care workers,” in the US – a figure projected to rise appreciably within the next five years. While serving on the front lines of the American healthcare system, professional caregivers assist charges in various settings, including hospitals, medical clinics, residential facilities, and private residences.
If you are considering a career as a professional caregiver but aren’t sure what it takes, what follows are characteristics employers in Philadelphia value the most.
Professional Caregivers Have Different Job Titles
But first, there are three main categories of professional caregivers: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Home Health Aide (HHA), and Personal Care Aide (PCA). Now let’s explore in more detail the duties and job responsibilities of each type:
Certified Nursing Assistants typically work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, other community-based settings, private homes, or hospitals. CNAs assist patients, residents, or clients with activities of daily living (ADLs), including dressing, eating, bathing, and toileting. They are also trained to perform clinical tasks like range-of-motion exercises and blood pressure readings.
Home Health Aides essentially provide the same nonmedical care and services as CNAs, but they assist people in their homes or community settings under the supervision of a nurse or therapist. An HHA may also perform light housekeeping tasks such as preparing food or changing linens.
Personal Care Aides work primarily in private or group homes. There are several subcategories of PCAs, including homemakers, direct-support professionals, personal care attendants, and home care workers. In addition to assisting with ADLs, these direct caregivers often help with light housekeeping chores, meal preparation, and medication management. PCAs can also help individuals go to work or otherwise remain engaged in their communities.
What Skills and Qualifications Do Caregivers in Philadelphia Need?
Whether your goal is to become a CNA, HHA, or PCA, these are the requirements to be a successful professional caregiver in a community like Philadelphia:
Training, Licenses, and Certification
The first requirement to be a professional caregiver is training and education. Most professional caregivers have completed a training program and earned a certification that proves they are qualified to perform the job. Certification is awarded to those who have completed a specific course of study and passed a test demonstrating their skills and knowledge in the caregiving field.
Several organizations offer certification programs for caregivers, including the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and the Professional Association of Caregivers (PAC). These organizations offer training programs that teach caregivers the skills to provide quality care.
In addition to certifications, many employers require their caregivers to have a certain level of education, for instance, a high school diploma or GED. Other employers require a degree in nursing or a related field. Keep in mind that these requirements vary by employer and the type of care provided.
Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides may also need to meet requirements specific to the state where they desire to work. For example, some states require HHAs to have a license or certification, which may involve completing training and passing a background check and competency exam.
Aides may also be required to obtain certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For more information, check with your state board of health.
Professional caregivers must also possess good physical fitness because they may be required to lift and transfer patients, help them bathe and dress, and assist them with other physical activities. Caregivers must have the strength and stamina to work on their feet for long hours and perform these tasks without injuring themselves or their charges.
Working long hours in fast-paced environments while assisting sometimes difficult patients or clients can take an emotional toll on caregivers. As a result, mental toughness is another quality that top-notch caregivers possess.
Another essential requirement to be a professional caregiver is having good communication skills. Caregivers must be able to communicate effectively with charges, their families, and other healthcare professionals. These skills include active listening, asking pertinent questions, and providing clear and concise information.
As a caregiver, you may also be required to communicate effectively with individuals who have cognitive or language impairments. These skills include using simple language, speaking slowly and clearly, and using visual aids, when necessary.
Compassion and Empathy
Professional caregivers must also have compassion and empathy for their charges and families.
Successful caregivers understand their charges’ needs and feelings and provide emotional support, as needed. In addition, caregivers must be able to handle difficult situations with sensitivity and patience.
Flexibility and Adaptability
A professional caregiver must also be flexible and adaptable, while adjusting their schedules and routines to better meet the needs of patients and clients. Depending on where they work, professional caregivers are often required to adapt to changes in their charges’ health and living situations with little notice.
While under the supervision of other healthcare professionals, direct caregivers must adhere to specific rules and protocols to help care for patients and clients. For instance, they may be required to follow instructions detailed in a care plan from a nurse on how to care for wounds or administer medications.
And finally, direct caregivers like HHAs, PCAs, and CNAs must be dependable and trustworthy so charges and families can rely on them. They should also be respectful when tending to personal care activities, for instance, helping clients bathe, dress, and toilet.
In summary, being a professional caregiver requires a unique set of skills and qualifications, including those listed above. If you are considering a career in caregiving, it is vital to evaluate your skills and qualifications to determine if you meet those requirements. Due to the growing demand for caregivers, professional caregiving can be a highly gratifying and fulfilling career
Is Professional Home Care Your Calling? Let’s Have a Conversation.
As a CNA, HHA, or PCA, are you interested in a fresh career challenge? If so, Digna-Care invites you to join our winning home care team in Philadelphia. Due to our expanding client load, we are currently seeking qualified individuals to fill several exciting caregiving positions. While proudly serving communities in Montgomery County, Buck County, Delaware County, and Chester County. we support clients and their families with in-home services that include Dementia Care, Personal Care, Live-In 24 Hour Care, Errands and Transportation, Meal Preparation, Companion Care, Light Housekeeping, Respite Care, and more.
As a highly valued member of the Digna-Care team, you’ll enjoy a fast-paced, positive work environment where your input is valued and hard work rewarded. We also offer competitive pay, flexible scheduling, ongoing staff training, and career advancement opportunities galore. No matter your experience level or education, we’d love to hear from you! To learn more about our open positions, please visit us today at www.digna-care.com.