Personal Care Assistant, Home Health Aide And CNA: What's The Difference?

8 October 2015
 Categories: , Articles

Whether you're going to hire someone to give aid to yourself or hiring someone to take care of a loved one, it is important to know who you're hiring. Talk to them, figure out if they are a personable individual, and see if they're a right fit for you or your loved one. However, there is one step that people often forget about when it comes to hiring someone who provides them with health related issues at home: what does their profession entail? There is a long list of types of home health care professionals, but this particular list will deal with 3 of the most common: personal care assistants, home health aides and CNAs. You'll find out a list of their duties, how they differ, and what sort of licensing or education that each of these professionals is supposed to receive.

Personal Care Assistant

A personal care assistant, by far, requires the least amount of training out of the 3 types of home health professionals listed here. In order to become a personal care assistant, you do not need a post-secondary degree, training or any form of licensing. Basically, a personal care assistant is a person that you hire that could do the things of which you are capable of doing and should not be performing any activities that require any sort of medical knowledge. Bathing, homemaking, shopping and running various errands for you or your loved one should be the provenance of a personal care assistant.

Home Health Aide

A home health aide requires a bit more training than that of a personal care assistant. Although a post-secondary degree is not required, training is usually required. Although the type of training varies from state to state, home health aides usually are required to take classes at local community colleges or vocational schools. Many schools that offer CNA certification also have a home health aide component, as well.

This coursework is usually part of the licensing program, and a license is required to become a certified home health aide. A certification exam is given, but the content of these exams differs on a state-by-state basis. Do not hire a home health aide if they cannot provide adequate license qualifications. Bathing, dressing and toileting are the provenance of a home health aide, but they can also perform basic dressings and are able to check the vital signs of you or your loved one.


A CNA is perhaps the most medically qualified and well trained of the 3 types of medical professionals listed here. Once again, a post-secondary degree is not required in order to become a CNA, but training most certainly is. The type of training that a CNA must receive varies on a state-by-state basis, but each state does require that CNAs complete training. At the end of their training, a CNA will have to pass a state organized and required certification examination. Upon successful completion of this exam, the CNA will earn his or her license.

Again, a license is required in every state in order to become a CNA. If an individual cannot produce his or her CNA license, then please avoid hiring that person.

A CNA performs all of the personal duties of a home health aide, and observes vital signs, but also can note significant medical changes in their client, as well. A CNA can also perform basic medical services, such as treating infections, changing dressings, cleaning catheters, etc. Although, all of these tasks must be performed under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner.

There are significant differences between these at-home professionals. For more information, contact a professional service like All Stat Home Health.