Managing Personal Care Aides in Senior Living Environments. Should NY State Add Regulations that Govern Personal Care Aides?

Posted: May 13, 2016

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Introduction

Personal care aides (PCAs) are effective in helping patients with self-care and everyday tasks through providing social assistance and support that enable their clients to take part in activities within the community (Quinn, et al. 9). Commonly referred to as personal attendants or caregivers, PCAs perform aides that are similar to those of the home health assistants. While PCAs cannot provide any medical services, health aides provide basic medical services. In the recent past, PCAs have become the center of attention throughout the Independent Living Communities (ILC) and the Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in the New York state (Quinn, et al. 9). As healthcare costs continue to increase, seniors are increasingly looking for PCAs, who are replacing the traditional insured and licensed agencies offering the same care at a higher cost. As this trend continues, the elderly population will be receiving care from PCAs while at home. On the relevance of PCAs, this paper will identify, analyze, and provide recommendations on the most important issues that concern PCAs. 

Identification of Key Issues that Concern PCAs

In his article, Marek, et al. (25) argues that as people advance in age, they become more susceptible to maltreatment. In most cases, these seniors are not only stereotyped but are also taken advantage of by family members as well as strangers, who exploit their inability to defend themselves. As a result of the vulnerability of these seniors, as the caregivers try to take care of these seniors, they often find themselves in compromising legal situations. PCAs play very crucial role in ensuring seniors benefits from a healthy living as they take part in activities within the community (McClement 208). While PCAs play a significant role in the society, the Fair Housing Act, FHA have requirements for PCAs. The relevance of these provisions is that they will help in ensuring these caregivers conduct their care practices in an ethical manner.

PCAs face both psychological and economic issues in the course of their practice. Considering the possible impact of caring for the seniors, the degree of burden experienced by PCAs have been an issue of focus in medical research. As argued by Marek, et al. (23) the PCAs' burden is defined as the degree at which PCAs feel that their physical health, emotional, financial status, and social life have suffered as a result of giving care to the elderly. Despite the fact that significant impact on PCAs characterizes caregiving, their wellbeing is considered irrelevant. In his article, Marek, et al. (24) argued that PCAs of seniors have more unmet care needs than the seniors themselves. Since services offered by PCAs does not have a definite structure, they are barely compensated.

PCAs play a critical role in ensuring community’s living conditions are improved. Through providing care to seniors, PCAs help these individuals take part in community development. Services offered by PCA assist in advancing resident’s rights by ensuring relevant issues concerning their rights are addressed. Besides, PCAs reduce the stigma brought as a result of stereotyping and marginalizing of the elderly (McClement 207). Service offered by the PCAs operates in an informal structure in the sense that they do not operate under organizational staffing rules. Unlike the home-based caregivers, who provide medical attention, PCAs should only offer basic care services to the elderly because of the lack of relevant caring skills. 

Analysis of Issues that Concern PCAs

PCAs provide services that are relevant to the welfare of the aging population. These services are related in the sense that they help in enhancing successful aging. On the appropriate roles played by PCAs, there is the need for creating rules of conduct that works in line with the organizational staffing rules (McClement 207). There is the need for the current healthcare department to allow the implementation of this rule. By allowing the implementation of the appropriate rules, healthcare practitioners will not only ensure PCA work in an ethical manner, but they will also ensure, the welfare of the currently stigmatized population is protected through the delivery of quality home-based healthcare services (Marek, et al. 23).  On the importance of enhancing the current PCA practices, organizations will have the opportunity to initiate efficient hiring process and enhancing PCAs of resident's obligation in providing care for the seniors. Besides, for the Independent Living Communities to provide, coordinate and arrange services for the elderly population they must strictly follow regulations set by the Department of Housing.

Solutions & Recommendations

This paper has highlighted significant aspects of PCA’s working environment, which are characterized by unstructured staffing, poor working conditions, as well as rarely addressed legal issues (Marek, et al. 23). This section provides a list of recommendations that can be used by policymakers to create acceptable working conditions for the PCAs.

To begin with, there is the need for the relevant organizations to conduct a background check of PCAs working within the community. To promote successful aging, there is the need for a relevant organization to access the existing PCAs to determine their eligibility of handling the needs of the most vulnerable group in the community.

Secondly, there is the need for the PCAs to identical codes as well as standards that the organization requires to their employees. Such codes of practices will help PCAs work in a socially and ethically acceptable manner.

Because most PSA may not have formal education on caring for the seniors, there is the need for the relevant of the organization to develop a training video for PCAs. Training videos can be used by the relevant human resource bodies to facilitate the creation of a structured and skilled staff, which will provide sufficient care for seniors.  

Results and Conclusion

The increased costs of the provision of healthcare have led to the increased need for home-based care. Currently, home-based assistance for the elderly is characterized by less skilled personnel and poor working conditions. Although seniors make up a significant portion of the American population, they have been subject to stereotyping and marginalization. On the other hand, PCAs play a significant role in ensuring the needs of the aged is addressed. Currently, PCAs are not recognized regarding their relevance in addressing the needs of the elderly population. With respect to their importance in the society, there is the need for healthcare policy makers to align most effective strategies for meeting the welfare of these employees, hence improving the health of the aging population in America. Initiating education programs for PCAs, creating acceptable care standards and compensating PCAs will come a long way to improving the current senior care in America.

References

  1. Marek, Karen Dorman, et al. "Aging in Place Versus Nursing Home Care." Research in gerontological nursing 5.2 (2012).
  2. McClement, Susan, et al. "" Broken Covenant": healthcare aides'" experience of the ethical" in caring for dying seniors in a personal care home." The Journal of clinical ethics 21.3 (2009): 201-211.
  3. Quinn, Margaret M., et al. "Occupational health of home care aides: results of the safe home care survey." Occupational and environmental medicine (2015): oemed-2015.
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