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Every year, thousands of people in Minnesota are confronted by the need to provide care for an aging or disabled relative. Many of these people are reluctant to transfer their loved ones to a care facility. Instead, they like the idea of providing loving care in the comfort of their home.

It is virtually impossible to adequately emphasize how challenging caring for a loved one can be. The physical and emotional tolls do not always receive the attention that they deserve, but neither do the financial ones. Caring for a loved one in Minnesota can become all-consuming, and this can put a serious strain on economic resources.

Fortunately, it is possible to provide personal care for loved ones and get compensated for it. This makes it possible for the caregiver to continue in their role for as long as is necessary.

Several options for becoming a paid PCA in Minnesota are available. Choosing one of them is a vital first step toward ensuring a better quality of life for the caregiver and the recipient.

What is PCA Service?

In Minnesota, a Personal Care Assistant, or PCA, is employed by an agency that provides personal care assistance to elderly and disabled citizens. Frequently, an individual PCA provides helpful services to a relative, and they are enrolled with the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

While some PCAs may be responsible for providing care for many people who are not relatives, programs in Minnesota make it possible for family members to become a PCA solely for the purpose of caring for a relative. Certain familial relationships are not eligible for PCA care. This includes parents and step-parents caring for underage children, paid legal guardians for adults and spouses. Moreover, people who are themselves recipients of PCA services are not eligible to become caregivers.

Once employment with an agency is obtained, the PCA may provide a variety of assistance to their relative. This typically involves help with daily living tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, and mobility. Some PCAs take the recipient to doctor’s appointments and to run errands. They may provide mental stimulation and physical exercise. The tasks that the PCA performs largely are dictated by the needs of the recipient.

How to Become a PCA

The path to becoming a PCA generally begins with training. Several programs are available, and any of them could provide the skills and knowledge that are required to obtain a certification. Many people complete a nursing assistant program or a home health aid training class. An accredited program that serves registered nurses or licensed practical nurses is a more involved option. Alternatively, officials may decide that the individual already has sufficient training and experience to take the certification test.

This test is offered online for free. Passing it enables the individual to enroll with DHS and to find suitable employment with an agency. Working for an agency is the key to getting compensated for providing care. It is only necessary to provide care for one individual to get paid.

Anyone who wants to become a home health aide for a family member is required to complete DHS Individual Personal Care Assistance training. The objectives of the training include learning the functions and responsibilities of a PCA as well as fundamental first aid techniques. Students also are introduced to the universal precautions that are defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Similarly, they learn to recognize the signs of maltreatment toward care recipients. 

Few prerequisites are required for PCA training, and virtually anyone is eligible as long as they have access to an Internet-enabled computer and an email address. This is because the basic DHS training is available online. It may be completed at any time since it is available 24-hours a day. There is no cost involved in the training. 

This means that individuals may review the modules of the Individual Personal Care Assistant Training as often as they wish. Altogether, there are nine modules, and many of these have videos or exercises that help the student to further understand the material and test their readiness for the examination. 

The first module is an overview. It explains PCA requirements and the PCA certification process. Students learn about care plans, working with a qualified professional to oversee care and to identify other members of the care team. The second chapter goes into greater depth concerning the responsibilities that a PCA undertakes. In-depth coverage includes the activities of daily living, health-related tasks and the observation and redirection of behavior. 

The third chapter emphasizes the vital role that communication plays in the PCA requirements as students learn about active listening. With the fourth chapter, students are introduced to a professional code of conduct and the ethics that will guide their work. 

Subsequent modules go into greater deal regarding subject matter such as Emergencies, Infection Control and Standard Precautions, Body Mechanics, Understanding Behaviors, Professional Boundaries, Time cards and Documentation, Fraud and Stress, Personal Self-Care and Support for the PCA Role. Completing all nine modules informs the student regarding how to be a PCA in great detail. 

Once the training is completed, the student must register online to take the examination. It is possible for the applicant to take the test as many times as they wish or to take it until they pass it. Passing the test enables the student to print a completion certificate. This certificate also is emailed to the student by the Department of Human Services. 

The new PCA then forwards the certificate to their employer agency. It’s important for the PCA to also keep a copy of the certificate in their records. 

Because the training program is entirely self-directed and may be reviewed at any time, there is no set timeline. People who are wondering how long does it take to become a PCA should know that they could complete the training in as little as one day if they are motivated. However, it may be sensible to spend more time on the training to ensure thorough understanding. 

Minnesota PCA Program

The Minnesota Department of Human Services administers two PCA programs: PCA Choice and PCA Traditional. Under both options, a person who needs care is empowered to select a caregiver to work for them through an agency. However, they must first demonstrate that they are in need of such care. The individual must be enrolled in at least one of Medicaid, Elderly Waiver, Minnesota Alternative Care or Minnesota Senior Health Options to be eligible. Qualifying for one of these programs means that the individual has low income and is over the age of 65 or disabled. Once they receive approval of their eligibility to receive care from a PCA, the process begins in earnest.

The recipient elects their relative to act as a caregiver. To receive compensation, the family member must undergo required training, become certified by the state and be employed by an agency. Minnesota law requires that the PCA be able to effectively communicate with the recipient and the agency and have the skills necessary to provide the required help to the recipient. PCAs are required to keep daily written records and to report any changes in the condition of the recipient to the agency.

A PCA may be compensated for a maximum of 275 hours of care each month. This number does not change even if the PCA is looking after several recipients.

Eligibility Guidelines

Someone who seeks employment as a PCA must be at least 18 years of age. Exceptions may be made for individuals who are 16 or 17 if they are employed by only one provider agency and if a qualified professional provides supervision at least every 60 days.

It is essential that the individual seek employment with one of the PCA provider agencies in Minnesota in order to receive compensation. A criminal background check will be conducted during the employment process. Anyone who cannot pass this screening will not be granted employment as a PCA. Once all other criteria are met, the individual must enroll as a PCA with the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Anyone who wants to become a PCA in Minnesota must first complete the required training and pass the certification test. It is possible to take the test multiple times until a passing score is attained. The test is free and usually is conducted online.

After fulfilling these requirements, the individual seeks employment with an agency that will conduct a background check. Passing this check is the last step to becoming a paid caregiver for a family member in Minnesota.

Being able to provide personalized care for a loved one is a blessing, but it is not without challenges. It can prove to be a considerable financial strain both on the person being cared for and on the person who provides the care. Becoming a PCA in Minnesota helps to solve this problem by providing much-needed compensation to people who are providing essential services to a family member.

The Benefits of Having a Personal Care Assistant 

In Minnesota, Personal Care Assistants are available to help individuals of all ability levels lead a more independent life. A PCA may provide essential assistance that allows an elderly or disabled person to remain in their own home and enjoy far more autonomy and freedom than they otherwise would. Overall, the program boasts numerous benefits to the care recipient, their family and the community. 

Perhaps one of the foremost benefits of having a PCA is the peace of mind that it affords. The person who receives care knows that a sympathetic, knowledgeable and caring individual is within easy reach when assistance is needed. They know that their PCA understands them and their needs. This makes them feel far safer and reinforces their desire for independence. 

Family members of the care recipient also experience enhanced peace of mind thanks to PCA services. It’s nice to know that a trained PCA can be with their loved one when they can’t be there themselves. This means that they don’t have to worry so much about their loved one suffering a fall, not sticking to a medication schedule or neglecting necessary self-care tasks. 

When people receive support for daily living activities, they are better able to preserve their dignity and maintain a healthy quality of life. The simple things like getting dressed, bathing and brushing teeth may be taken for granted by others, but care recipients are cognizant of the fact that if they cannot take care of these tasks themselves, then they may lose considerable independence. Having that help on a daily basis makes all the difference in the world. 

Another major benefit is having access to skilled nursing care without having to leave home. Even some relatively complex medical treatments can be delivered at home with the right equipment and knowledge. This eliminates the need to make trips to clinics, which may be time-consuming and stressful. Having a PCA may mean having many routine treatments happen in the privacy and convenience of the care recipient’s home. With so much time saved, it’s possible to focus on more meaningful tasks and events. 

It’s also enormously helpful for people who receive PCA care to have access to better nutrition. Many PCAs help with grocery shopping and meal preparation so that care recipients maintain a healthy diet. This ensures improved longevity and quality of life as well as enhanced energy levels and better sleep at night. PCAs also can ensure that the people under their care eat within the special nutrition guidelines that may have been outlined by their doctor. 

The one-on-one rapport between PCA and recipient is invaluable. Patients look forward to the PCA’s visit because it provides welcome companionship, and they benefit from having someone perform routine household tasks for them. Additionally, the PCA is familiar with the patient’s condition and personality, so they are able to quickly recognize any troubling changes. This may mean that the patient receives timely care for a new condition. 

How Diversity Home Health Group Can Help 

If you’ve been wondering how to get a PCA for yourself or a loved one, then Diversity Home Health Group can help. All of our employees have PCA training and official PCA certification. In addition, because services are always evolving, our workers undergo ongoing training to ensure that they are always able to offer the best possible care. We only hire certified clinicians who are dedicated to their profession. This means that they genuinely care about the people for whom they are responsible. 

At Diversity Home Health Group, we specialize in 24-hour pediatric care as well as services for the elderly and disabled. Our services also are available around the clock with our emergency line. 

All employees receive specialized, in-classroom training from an accredited institution. Each instructor for these classes is an authority, ensuring that our caregivers are prepared to deal with any situation. This includes mental health care for those suffering from anxiety and depression. 

Diversity Home Health Group has partnerships with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and distinguished medical centers like the Mayo Clinic. These relationships have helped Diversity to offer superior services to patients at all stages of life that want to remain independent in their homes. 

We never insist on long-term contracts with our clients. In fact, our primary goal is simply to see our patients satisfied. Because we want to earn your trust, there’s nothing hidden about our relationship with you. We strive for transparency and satisfaction. If you are ever dissatisfied, please let us know. We will do our utmost to make it right. 

Our many satisfied care recipients have left positive reviews on Facebook and Google. We encourage you to read these to get a better idea regarding the quality of services that we provide.

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