What Is the Personal Care Industry?

Marlene Garcia

The personal care industry provides aides who perform various tasks for mentally or physically disabled clients in their homes. They work for public or private agencies, with their duties typically regulated by standards in the personal care industry. Some aides assist with personal grooming and housekeeping, while others might perform simple medical tasks, such as changing wound dressings. The personal care industry employs aides who take on tasks to help clients remain in their homes for as long as possible.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Personal or attendant aides might help clients out of bed and onto the toilet, and assist with personal hygiene. This might include washing and styling the client’s hair and help with bathing. Typically, the range of duties is regulated by the personal care industry to protect the client. For example, a personal attendant usually is permitted to file a client’s fingernails, but not trim them. Aides may help with shaving only when using an electric or safety razor.

Those working as attendants might also empty bedpans and change diapers for incontinent clients. They may help a client eat, as long as the client can sit up and swallow without difficulty. Some personal care workers change wound dressings and apply preventative skin care, such as creams or lotions.

A homemaker personal care aide usually performs housekeeping chores, which might include shopping. He or she might also prepare meals, while considering the client’s dietary needs or restrictions. Laundry service and changing bed linens represent typical tasks done by a homemaker aide working in the personal care industry.

Companion aides usually visit with a client to provide social interaction. They might read to the homebound person or play board games. Some companion aides drive clients to doctor appointments, shopping trips, or to social events. They basically provide outside stimulation for ambulatory clients inside or outside the home.

Skilled home health care aides perform a wider range of duties within the personal care industry. These aides might change catheters and provide respiratory care to clients. Aides might also assist with exercises recommended by a physical therapist and ensure clients take prescribed medication.

Home health care agencies typically need certification and licenses for each aide they hire. Employees working in the personal care industry are typically subjected to a criminal background check and physical examination to test for communicable diseases. They also receive training that encompasses caring for clients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other limitations, such as hearing problems.

Training might also include instruction in how to use lifting devices to move clients and how to identify problems that need immediate medical attention. Aides generally receive information about a client’s right to privacy regarding health and financial issues. Preserving the client’s dignity might also be discussed in training class.

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