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What’s the Difference Between a PCA, HHA, and CNA?

An elderly man receiving help from a nurse

Selecting a Home Care Provider

When facing a terminal diagnosis there will likely come a time when you or a loved one can no longer care of themselves and you need to consider bringing in professional assistance. With that said, it is important to distinguish between the common types of professional assistance: Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Personal Care Aids (PCA), or Home Health Aids (HHA). The main differences are in the levels of education and license obtained. By knowing this you can make the best choice in selecting a home care provider.

Personal Care Aides

When everyday tasks grow too strenuous for you or a loved one to handle, a personal care aide (PCA) can step in to help. PCAs are ready to assist with personal-care issues, including bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming. They help to manage household duties such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, running errands, and meal preparation. They also provide companionship and would escort you or a loved one to medical appointments, monitor the patient overnight, remind the patient to take their medication, and aid in simple exercises like daily walks.

A PCA is an excellent choice for a patient who can no longer live independently, but does not require regular in-home hands-on medical care.

Home Health Aides

For patients with slightly more complex needs, a home health aide (HHA) might be the right choice. The main difference in HHA vs PCA is that an HHA has training, usually from a vocational school or community college, and then must pass a state certification exam.

In addition to assisting with the same everyday tasks that a PCA can provide, an HHA can help with dressing, toileting, and the checking of vital signs. HHA also assists with the administration of medication, assisting with braces and artificial limbs, caring for the patient’s skin, and attending to diet regimens.

Certified Nursing Assistants

If you or a loved one requires intensive medical care, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) may be more appropriate. The main difference between a CNA and the PCA or HHA is the extensive training a CNA must go through. In most U.S. states, CNAs must receive training and a certification from an authorized program, undergo supervised clinical experience, and pass a state examination.

In addition to the services provided by an HHA or PCA, a CNA is responsible for setting up medical equipment such as drips and oxygen supplies, measuring vital signs, observing changes in the patient’s condition. CNAs are certified to work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and day care centers.

How Fifth Season Financial Can Help

The cost of home care after being diagnosed with advanced stage illness can vary greatly depending on your state of residence, your insurance policy, and other factors. Fifth Season Financial can help you in your financial planning through the Funds for Living Program.

If you or a loved one have a life insurance policy and are suffering from an advanced stage illness, the Funds For Living Program will front a payment on your life insurance policy while preserving funds for your beneficiaries in the future. To learn more about the Funds For Living Program please don’t hesitate to fill-out a form online or contact us today (866) 459-1271.

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