At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
A personal care attendant helps people who are unable to completely care for themselves perform daily tasks. Some of the duties performed by a personal care assistant include helping clients with grooming tasks, light housekeeping, running personal errands and preparing meals. A personal care attendant may work for one client or may have several clients at a time. A great deal of the work performed by individuals assisting with personal care is done in a client's home, but some personal care attendants do work in care facilities that house individuals in need of personal assistance.
In order to become a personal care attendant, a person must be of legal age to work in the jurisdiction where care is being provided. Most employers also perform background checks to assure that caregivers do not have a criminal record and that they are considered suitable for taking care of others. A secondary education or its equivalent is also generally required to be employed as a personal care attendant.
While most attendants assist people with chronic illnesses, the elderly or those with cognitive difficulties that prevent them from performing tasks on their own, some attendants assist people with short-term needs. One such example may be a person who was injured in an accident and is prescribed a personal care plan in order to have someone help with daily tasks until rehabilitated enough to perform those tasks alone. In any of these instances, however, a personal care attendant is usually supervised by a registered nurse to assure that quality care is being offered.
Duties typically assigned to a personal care attendant include helping clients with housekeeping, grooming, grocery shopping, paying bills and preparing healthy meals. In addition to communicating with medical professionals with an interest in the client's well-being, an attendant may also regularly communicate with a client's family members and social workers. It is, therefore, important for anyone pursuing a career in personal care to have excellent reading, writing and verbal communication skills.
Other personal attributes that are important to the job of a personal care attendant are the ability to feel compassion for clients and the ability to display kindness when performing duties. The ability to identify changes in a client's mood or behavior is also important, as is sensitivity toward a client's feelings. An eye for detail and being able to follow basic instructions are also important. A personal care attendant does not perform nursing duties, but may be responsible for making sure that medications are administered at the appropriate times and dosages.