Skills & Competency Requirements for a Care Assistant

Updated July 20, 2017

As a care assistant, you provide services and companionship to fragile people with special needs in private homes, residential care facilities, medical facilities and community settings. You frequently work with the elderly; however, you may find yourself providing assistance to people of all ages with physical, emotional or mental challenges. If these challenges appeal to you, you may want to pursue a career in the helping profession of care assistant. In whatever setting you work, you must possess certain skills and competencies.

Basic Skills and Competencies

You must, by definition, be caring. An even temperament and sense of humour help you cope with clients' emotional and physical issues while assisting clients in the tasks of daily living. You may shop, prepare meals, escort clients to appointments, do laundry and provide assistance with hygiene and mobility.You need to be physically, emotionally and mentally able to provide services while maintaining client safety. You must know how to handle emergencies and get help when needed. Care assistants cannot give medication; however, you may qualify to assist clients in taking their own medication. This requires documentation for medication management.

As part of a multidisciplinary care team, you need to possess excellent communication skills. Rapport with the client, family and health care providers is essential.You will be a part of designing care plans for your clients.

Legal Aspects

If insurance or government programs are paying for the provider, you need training. Each state has its own regulations, so check with your state health care licensing authority for details.

Many of the skills of a caregiver come from on-the-job training. You may want go further and earn your license as a Home Health Aide or Certified Nursing Assistant. These positions require a multi-week training program provided by a health-care agency or a hospital.

Whatever position you choose, drug screenings, background checks and reference checks will be routine. You may need to pass classes in CPR, infection control, Alzheimer's disease, HIV and domestic violence. You'll need to learn safe and efficient ways to help patients with mobility issues.

If you are responsible for transporting clients, you'll need a driver's license, a clean driving record, car insurance and sometimes a private car in good running condition.

Choosing a Caregiver

People can hire a caregiver privately or through an agency. If hired privately, the client is responsible for checking the qualifications of the caregiver. Using an agency usually costs more , but is often simpler and provides assurance that the caregiver's skills and competencies are current. It is important, when using an agency, that caregivers be employees of that agency, not just contracted workers. This ensures better accountability from the agency in ensuring that the caregiver possesses the skills and legal documents needed to be a safe , competent caregiver. Whether hiring privately or through an agency, it is important to be ask questions and see how the client and the caregiver interact.

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About the Author

Patricia Bratianu has been combining mainstream healing modalities with alternative therapies for more than 30 years. She has has been writing about health and nature for health care professionals as well as the general public for 20 years. A board-certified holistic registered nurse, Bratianu was granted a Ph.D. in natural health with high honors from Clayton College of Natural Health.