TRAVERSE CITY — Personal care aide (PCA) is the fastest growing occupation in the United States.
Currently there are 800,000 PCA’s employed with another 600,000 to be added to their ranks between 2010 and 2020. Unfortunately, proper training and certification is sorely lacking in all fifty states. There are currently no federal training requirements, and standards vary widely state to state.
The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) just released a study where they assessed the training standards state by state. What they found is not very encouraging if you or a loved one is being cared for by a PCA. Ten states have no training requirements in any programs (i.e. home health care; nursing home care; adult daycare), and in the 23 states with one or more programs, they too had no training requirement. Ten have some training on only certain programs. Of those states that did have training curriculum, only four states require PCA’s complete a home health aide training program and get certified.
I just returned from vacation and went to lift my suitcase out of the car, lifted wrong and hurt my back. Now imagine lifting a 150-pound person out of a bath tub without proper technique. Russ Knopp, owner of Comfort Keepers, a local TC home health care agency, told me that training is the number one issue they face every day.
“Nationally Comfort Keepers has recognized the importance of training and has made it the number one priority of each of their franchisees. We devote countless hours training our staff. Making sure that both the client and the aide are safe at all times is so important that even though Michigan doesn’t have any standardization, we do."
And he’s right. Michigan doesn’t have any formal training programs or criteria, but employees must sign an agreement that they will compile with any training required by their employer. Great, but what if the employer doesn’t offer any training?