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Understanding Differences Between PCAs, HHAs and CNAs

Family members can be overwhelmed when entering a completely new world of caregiving, and being faced with a load of unknown acronyms such as PCA, HHA, and CNA does not help. If you're considering hiring a caregiver for your loved one and struggling with these unfamiliar terms, this article might be for you. 

pca vs cna vs hha


Homemaker or a Companion is ideal for those, who struggle with feelings of loneliness and/or require light assistance around the house. Their help is recommended for individuals who have not yet been severely affected by the progression of their disease.

PCA (Personal Care Assistant)

A PCA is typically suitable for individuals who need help with day-to-day activities but don't necessarily require professional help. They assist with both ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) and IADLs (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living).

  • ADLs: They refer to the essential self-care activities, such as brushing, bathing, eating, dressing, …
  • IADL: These are more complicated tasks that support independent lives, such as medication management, cooking, housekeeping, and financial tasks …

A PCA is typically an individual, who is trained to assist with daily activities without the possession of formal medical certification.

HHA (Home Health Aids)

While PCA and HHA are relatively similar, HHA is generally recommended for individuals with more serious health conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson's. A HHA is a trained professional who can provide basic care and medical help at home. HHAs must undergo intense 75-hour training, which includes both educational and clinical training and a final home health exam.

CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)

CNAs undergo a similar training process to HHAs but they take it a step further. They have to pass an additional State clinical exam, which qualifies them to operate in environments like hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and skilled nursing facilities.

If your loved one requires specialized care such as transfer assistance, a certified caregiver from a reputed home care agency would be the most appropriate. However, if the general concern is keeping company without intensive personal care, a homemaker would be a fitting choice to ensure their well-being. 


In-Home Care
Home‐based care for people with dementia: A systematic review
What Is Personal Care Assistant (PCA) Care?
Activities Of Daily Living
What Are Activities Of Daily Living (ADLs)?
Home Health Aide vs. Personal Care Aide: Main Differences
What is CNA?

Founded in 2008, Ezra Home Care offers live-in home care, 24-hour care, and hourly senior care.
All our caregivers are state-certified and provide services like personal carehousekeepingcompanionship, help with medication, and transportation assistance. We've spent 15 years refining our caregiver selection process to ensure families' peace of mind. Reach out for details and quotes.

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