Personal care workers (PCW) and health care workers (HCW): what’s the difference?

Personal care workers (PCW) and health care workers (HCW) — merely a one-word difference, but they represent two distinct roles, each providing a special type of care to their patients. Here’s what you need to know about the two.

Both health care workers (HCW) and personal care workers (PCW) are indispensable in the provision of care to the thousands of seniors and disabled adults who want to remain active in the community. While both caregiver types perform similar duties in a home setting, they represent two different types of service, varying in qualifications, responsibilities, and price.

Health Care Worker role:

Qualifications

  • To work as a health care worker, one must complete at least 300 hours of the “Health worker Certificate” course provided by the Employees Retraining Board. 
  • The person has to attend and pass professional examinations for health workers in residential care homes for the elderly approved by the Social Welfare Department. 
  • After the person has registered as a health worker at the Licensing Office of Residential Care Homes for the Elderly of the Social Welfare Department, then he/she can provide home care services.
Health Worker Certificate (Sample)

Duties

  • Take care of patients’ hygiene needs (e.g., bathing, diaper changing, wound cleaning)
  • Provide companionship and assistance with daily activities, such as nasogastric tube feeding, dressing, and assist with the effective execution of rehabilitation campaigns
  • Assist medical staff or follow the guidelines to perform health checks (e.g. blood pressure measurement, blood sugar testing)
  • Follow up on patients’ health and social status 

Note that while health care workers offer medical support to those they care for, they are not trained to perform certain health care procedures, including vaccination, suctioning, and chest percussion. 

Personal care worker role:

Qualifications

  • To register and work as a personal care worker, one must complete training courses on elderly care or health services (lasting up to 50 hours)

Duties 

  • Provide companionship, direct personal care, and assistance with activities of daily living ranging from grooming to meal preparation
  • Escort patients to medical appointments

Note that personal care workers perform many of the same tasks as health care workers, but their scope of responsibility is not as broad. Personal care workers do not have the qualifications to manage medical related tasks, such as blood drawing and tube feedings.

Price Comparison Between a PCW and am HCW

In Hong Kong, personal care workers are usually priced between $80-190 per hour, whereas a health care worker is generally priced between $90-320 per hour. Pricing varies depending on the operator. 

At Evercare, we offer competitive pricing on a wide selection of home care services. If you would like to learn more about our offering, click here for more information

How to choose between the two?

A personal care worker is a more affordable solution if you or your loved ones need an extra hand at home to help with activities of daily living. If you are looking for more comprehensive physical assistance and someone who can handle certain medically-related tasks, a health care worker would be a better fit. 

It is crucial to note that health care workers and personal care workers are not to be mistaken for a registered nurse, who does not share the same level of education. If you would like to learn more about other caregiving options, you can request a free consultation session here.