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What is the Difference Between CNAs and Caregivers?

caregiver vs cna

CNAs and Caregivers in an Assisted Living Facility or Home Health Care Setting

Whether your loved one is going to an assisted living facility for a medical condition or you are hiring home care services for them, you probably are asking what the difference is between certified nursing assistants (CNA) and caregivers.

There is an important distinction based on  medical care or personal care for your loved one. Whether someone has the formal training or certification exam to perform medical tasks or if they only have a high school diploma but can administer medications to help pay bills might make a difference on whether you want to go with registered nurses, home health aides, or caregivers.

Adding in other terms such as nurse aide, plus the different care facilities or home care services to choose from and it’s understandable that choosing from the right nursing homes,  nursing care or personal care services can be a daunting task.

What are Caregivers?

Caregivers, or personal care aides (PCA), are non-medical assistants. They offer companionship and personal care services, helping to pay bills, assist with hygiene and grooming tasks, meal preparation, and other non-medical tasks.

Pros of a Caregiver:

  • Provide companionship.
  • Help with mobility while moving around their home or care facilities.
  • Assist with hygiene tasks.
  • Help with personal grooming tasks.
  • Assist with light housekeeping tasks.
  • Provide assistance with meal prep.
  • Help pay bills.
  • Help with medication management and administration.

Cons of a Caregiver:

  • No formal training required
  • No formal certification exam.
  • May only have a high school diploma.
  • Cannot perform medical tasks or provide medical care.
  • Cannot care for a specific medical condition, such as Lupus or Alzheimer’s.
  • Cannot provide care in care facilities.

What are Home Health Aides/Health Aides?

Home health aides work with agencies that provide home care services. They are part of a medical care team and are assigned to help with personal care tasks such as bathing and grooming.

Pros of Home Health Aides

  • Provide many of the same types of personal care help as caregivers.
  • Help administer medications.
  • Part of a home health care medical team.
  • Receive formal training through the home health agency they work for.
  • Home health aides work in the patient’s home and health aides work in care facilities.

Cons of Home Health Aides

  • Need a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Your loved one must have a medical condition that requires them to be under the care of registered nurses (RN) and/or doctor.
  • Do not provide medical care (but they can report concerns thanks to their formal training).

Learn more: The Difference Between a Home Health Aide vs Caregiver.

What are Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) or Nurse Aide?

Certified nursing assistants (CNA) are certified nursing healthcare professionals. They help elderly or impaired patients perform basic daily living activities, may provide personal care services, and can perform basic medical tasks.

Pros of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA):

  • Receive formal training and must pass a certification exam.
  • Provide personal care services
  • Perform basic medical tasks such as monitoring blood pressure.
  • Help administer medications.
  • Provide care in the home OR in care facilities such as nursing homes.

Cons of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA):

  • Often do not provide personal care services as they are part of a care team that usually includes home health aides.
  • Your loved one must have a medical condition that requires them to be under the care of registered nurses (RN) and/or doctor.

What are Registered Nurses?

Registered nurses are health care professionals who receive formal training and a degree in nursing care. They provide medical care for patients in home or in care facilities such as nursing homes.

Pros of Registered Nurses:

  • Receive a formal education and must receive an associates or bachelor’s in nursing care.
  • Must pass a certification exam.
  • Offer medical care and perform a variety of medical tasks.
  • Some have specialized training for health conditions, such as dementia.
  • Work in care facilities or in a home health care setting.

Cons of Registered Nurses:

  • No personal care services.
  • Your loved one must have a medical condition that requires the care of medical professionals.

There are many differences between CNAs and caregivers as well as home health aides and registered nurses. Finding the right type of care for your loved one is an important task.

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