A direct care worker provides assistance and care to the elderly, the developmentally or physically disabled, or patients in rehabilitation programs. The job description of a direct care worker involves patience, empathy, strong interpersonal skills, and a detailed knowledge of best care practices.
A direct care worker provides a number of services depending on the needs of the individual; these might include running errands, helping patients move around their homes, counseling individuals on independent living, and administering prescribed medication.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Direct Care Worker
- Helps the elderly or physically disabled move from room to room around their homes.
- Assists individuals in dressing, bathing, and completing basic hygiene tasks.
- Oversees any required rehabilitation exercises.
- Ensures that individuals take their prescribed medications.
- Prepares meals that adhere to special dietary considerations.
- Assists with light cleaning and housework.
- Teaches developmentally disabled adults how to adopt basic independent living skills.
- Helps adults with developmental disorders learn to make a budget and complete basic household tasks.
- Works with disabled children in the school system, providing support and assistance during daily activities.
- Meets with family to discuss needs of patients.
- Runs errands to the grocery store, laundromat, cleaners, drugstore, and other necessary locations.
- Serves as a companion for the elderly who live alone.
- Organizes activities for patients.
RequiredKnowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Demonstrates patience and compassion.
- Possesses excellent interpersonal skills.
- Works well with a variety of different individuals.
- Possesses detailed knowledge of patient’s condition, symptoms, and medications.
- Exhibits ability to think quickly and act calmly in an emergency.
- Demonstrates strong organizational skills.
- Communicates clearly and effectively.
- Possesses strong listening skills.
- Pays close attention to detail.
- Possesses physical stamina required to help individuals move around.
- Possesses emotional strength necessary to work with ailing patients.
- Demonstrates awareness of proper first aid and emergency response procedures.
- Maintains friendly and open demeanor at all times.
Education and Experience
A direct care worker holds a high school diploma, as well as an Associate’s Degree or certification as a Nurse’s Aide or Nursing Assistant. Direct care workers are also required to successfully complete a training program, commissioned by a private company or by their state of residence prior to beginning work. These programs can last anywhere from 1-3 months, and usually culminate in a final exam.
A direct care worker may spend the majority of his or her working hours in a patient’s private residence, helping with daily tasks. Others work in schools, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.Shifts vary, depending on the needs of the individuals – some direct care workers cover a typical 9-5 shift, while others cover night shifts, and most rotate between the two. The job of a direct care worker can be physically and emotionally taxing, especially when working with high-needs individuals.
The average salary for a direct care worker is approximately $50,000 per year. Salaries range from $30,000 to $80,000, depending on the care worker’s years of experience, the company at which they are employed, and the needs of the patient.