Care Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

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A Care Assistant, or Professional Carer, is responsible for upkeeping their clients’ hygiene, ensuring their safety and facilitating social-emotional support. Their duties include administering medications, cleaning a client’s living area and managing activity or care schedules.

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Care Assistant duties and responsibilities

Care Assistants are often required to react to a patient’s needs, but typical duties might include:

  • Assisting clients with care such as grooming, washing and maintaining personal hygiene standards 
  • Preparing and serving healthy, nutritious meals, taking into account any special dietary needs and personal preferences
  • Identifying activities that would appeal to the patients and ensuring that they are suitably stimulated
  • Preparing food and drinks for patients
  • Contributing to a clean, well-organized and pleasant environment for all patients
  • Performing light housekeeping duties
  • Lifting, moving, positioning and transporting clients
  • Providing social companionship
  • Ensuring clients take their prescribed medication on time
  • Assisting with physical therapy exercises
  • Escorting clients to and from appointments
  • Taking clients’ temperatures, pulse and weight
  • Following care plans created by medical staff
  • Running errands for clients or accompanying them on errands
  • Reporting any changes in health or behavior
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What does a Care Assistant do?

Care Assistants work at hospitals, nursing homes, private residences and other care facilities to help fulfill a patient’s basic needs. They work with patients of varying levels of independence and ability. Care Assistants frequently check up on patients to monitor their vital signs, help them move from place to place, deliver meals, feed patients, help them use the toilet and bathe. They communicate with patients about their symptoms and needs, reporting changes or concerns to other members of the patient’s care team. Care Assistants provide companionship and social interaction to prevent patients from feeling isolated and recommend mental health resources.

Care Assistant skills and qualifications

Care Assistants are not usually required to have qualifications beyond a high school diploma, but some states require them to complete certification. Useful qualifications and skills can include:

  • Certification from a National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) program
  • Ability to help patients requiring elder care, pediatric care and those recovering from illness and injuries
  • Clinical knowledge to read treatment plans and ensure they are implemented effectively
  • Excellent communication skills to share information with patients and other professionals
  • Empathy and interpersonal skills to build positive relationships with patients

Care Assistant salary expectations

A Care Assistant makes an average salary of $12.62 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Care Assistant education and training requirements

While there are no specific educational requirements for Care Assistants in most states, in some they need to be certified. Minnesota has its own certification program, and New York has state-approved accreditation programs. Care Assistants in  Alaska need to register with the state in order to enter their care allocation system. Some states require training such as CPR, dealing with dementia, supporting those with mobility needs or other courses specific to the setting. 

Care Assistant experience requirements

Care Assistants often gain most of their experience on the job, where training and support are offered by more experienced members of the team. However, anyone with experience in a caregiving role will be at an advantage. Because Care Assistants need to be able to offer reassurance and support, experience in a customer or patient-facing role could help them to maintain their composure even under difficult circumstances.

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Frequently asked questions about Care Assistants

 

What is the difference between a Care Assistant and a Nurse?

Care Assistants and Nurses can perform some similar activities when caring for patients,  but they have different levels of training and responsibility. Care Assistants deal with the day-to-day care and upkeep of patients, keeping them clean and helping them meet their basic needs when it comes to physical movement, hydration and mental stimulation. Although their duties can include some basic medical functions like taking vital signs or helping patients take medications, Care Assistants are not medical professionals like Nurses. Nurses focus on a patient’s medical needs while Care Assistants look after their overall environment.

 

Who does a Care Assistant report to?

Care Assistants report to different people depending on the type of employer they work for. Care Assistants who work at private residences may report directly to a patient or their family members, while Care Assistants working at an assisted living facility or nursing homes report to the facility’s Director. At hospitals, Care Assistants report to the Head Nurse to coordinate basic caregiving with medical support. Care Assistants communicate with their managers through face-to-face meetings and by updating notes on a patient’s chart, writing down detailed information about when a patient received food and water, how the patient is feeling and any planned activities.

 

What makes a good Care Assistant?

Because they work closely with elderly, disabled and sickly patients, good Care Assistants are highly empathetic and compassionate. They treat all patients with respect and dignity regardless of their condition or ability. Successful Care Assistants are strong communicators, using written communication to discuss a patient’s care, verbal communication to learn about the patient’s needs and physical cues to interact with non-verbal patients. Successful Care Assistants are perceptive and intuitive, able to recognize when a patient behaves differently or seems upset. They get to know each patient on a personal level and form friendships while still being professional.

 

What are the daily duties of a Care Assistant?

On a typical day, Care Assistants work with several different patients. They may see each patient several times throughout the day for meals and other routine activities. They help patients get dressed, move them in bed to prevent sores, accompany them to appointments and clearly explain what they are doing to comfort and reassure their patients. Care Assistants change bedsheets, dispose of hazardous waste, tidy patient rooms and supervise visits with guests.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021