As you enter into the home care arena you will find a number of different titles, terms, and designations for home care workers and their training and certifications can vary greatly.  The following list should help you understand the differences.

Companion – An elder companion may have several hours of formal training to no training at all.  These individuals commonly work for private home care companies and provide supportive care only.

Elder Pal – The term ElderPal was previously used by the Schmieding Center as the designation for a person who completed 25 hours of formal training as a beginning home care worker.

Homemaker – This term is used by many Medicaid programs and is used as the title for a worker who provides housekeeping and other supportive care to a person in the home.  This person generally has no formal training in caregiving.

Sitter – This term is used by many hospitals to designate a person who is paid to “sit” with a person who requires supervision to prevent injury.  People working as sitters may have training or may not.  While they are working as sitters they are generally not providing personal care but strictly “watching” or “supervising” the patient until a family member returns.

In-Home Assistant – In Arkansas this term is used for a person who has received 40 hours of training on caring for an older adult.  The individual has received instruction on assisting with basic activities of daily living and maintaining a clean and safe environment.

Personal Care Aide – In Arkansas this term designates a person who has received a minimum of 40 hours of training in providing personal care skills (usually bathing and hygiene) from a licensed nurse.  This person generally works for the state Medicaid Program providing Personal Care but they may also work for private home care agencies.

Personal Care Assistant –  The term Personal Care Assistant was previously used by the Schmieding Center as the designation for a person who completed 50 hours of formal training in home caregiving.  This individual received both classroom and clinical training from a licensed nurse and can provide care for someone requiring minimal to moderate assistance with activities of daily living in the home.

Home Care Aide – In Arkansas this term designates a person who has received a minimum of 40 hours of training in providing personal care skills (usually bathing and hygiene) from a licensed nurse.  This person generally works for the state Medicaid Program providing Personal Care but they may also work for private home care agencies.

Home Care Assistant – The term Home Care Assistant is used by the Schmieding Center as the designation for a person who has completed 100 hours of formal training in home caregiving.  This individual has receive both classroom and clinical training from a licensed nurse and can provide care for someone requiring minimal to moderate assistance with activities of daily living in the home.

Home Health Aide – According to the Medicare and Medicaid, Specific qualifications for individuals using this title can vary from state to state but as a minimum, according to Medicare and Medicaid regulations persons calling themselves home health aides must have at least 75 hours of training.

Certified Nurse/Nursing Aide – In Arkansas the term Certified Nursing Aide designates an individual who has successfully completed a minimum of 90 hours of training as a nursing assistant and who has successfully passed the state certification exam.  This person must also have a minimum of 15 hours of training in the care of a person with Dementia.  Certified Nurse Aide curriculum is specifically designed to train individuals how to care for older adults residing in institution settings.  However these individuals also commonly work for home health companies and private home care companies.

Certified Home Health Aide – Although there is no certification for Home Health aide in the state of Arkansas, other states have specific training curricula and certifications for this occupation.  Qualifications for individuals using this title can vary from state to state but as a minimum, according to Medicare and Medicaid regulations they must have at least 75 hours of training as a home health aide and pass a state certification exam.

Nursing Assistant – The term nursing assistant is a general term used to describe a person who has completed a course of training, usually at a community college or free standing private school in the basic skills of caring for persons.  Nursing assistant courses typically teach individuals how to provide care for individuals across the life span.

Direct Care Worker –  The term Direct Care Worker is relatively new.  The term is used to describe the group of workers who provide direct care to others.  Direct Care workers include all the individuals described above and others including psychiatric aides, and orderlies.

Paraprofessional – The term paraprofessional is used to address a larger group of workers across occupational settings who are trained to assist licensed personnel in accomplishing their work.  They may work in a variety of settings including industry and/or healthcare and typically work in a supportive role to the licensed professional.