WHAT DO DIRECT CARE WORKERS DO?
Direct care workers, also known as personal care assistants, caregivers, home health or personal care aides, give assistance to people who are sick, injured, mentally or physically disabled, or the elderly and fragile. They work in the home and help their clients with daily activities, such as bathing and bathroom functions, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework. Direct care workers help clients make and keep appointments with doctors, provide or arrange transportation, make and serve meals, make sure they take their medicine and serve as a companion for their clients.
They are either hired by a client or their family through a service, or report directly to a physician or a nurse. They work long hours, often physically demanding on on their feet.
HOW MUCH DO DIRECT CARE WORKERS MAKE?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), direct care assistants made a median income of $9.70 an hour in 2010, or $20,170 per year.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS?
Most direct care workers have at least a high school diploma when starting their career, but it is not required. Much training is done on the job by nurses or other caregivers. The training includes safety information, emergency response, and cooking special dietary foods if necessary.
Some states may require more formal training from a vocational school, elder care programs or other home health organization. Certification is required for personal care assistants working for agencies that receive Medicare or Medicaid.
JOB SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS
- Empathy: Clients are frail, impaired, in pain and need help. Being sympathetic to their needs and understanding is necessary.
- Attention to Detail: Some clients have specific rules or schedules that must be minded, or specific dietary or physical rules that must be followed.
- Interpersonal Skills: Personal care assistants work in a very personal way with their clients. Some will be in pain or very sensitive to their fragility. They must be sensitive and compassionate with clients.
- Stamina: Personal care assistants might need to lift clients into the bathtub, cars and into bed, and need strength.
- Time Management: Personal care assistants are schedule keepers. They have to be there to make sure clients get up on time, make sure medication is taken on schedule and clients get to appointments on time.
THE FUTURE OF DIRECT CARE WORKERS
With the aging of the baby boomers, direct care worker jobs will grow rapidly. According to the BLS, jobs will grow 69% by 2020, much faster than the average job.