Do you have what it takes to be a Personal Care Assistant (PCA)?

Personal Care Assistant

Well, do you?

Working in aged care is about more than just taking care of the elderly – it’s an important role, where you’re responsible for looking after a wide variety of their needs and are directly in charge of their continued wellbeing and health.

And if you want to be truly successful in your role, it requires certain skills and attributes.

It’s especially important if you plan on becoming a personal care assistant (PCA) specifically, as this role often requires you to work as an individual – you won’t have a team to fall back onto in most cases.

And as such, it requires a good amount of aged care study, experience and personal traits to become a PCA.

So – what types of attributes are we talking about exactly?

What skills are needed to be a care assistant?

Good communication skills

Caring for someone is social work – as such, good communication skills are absolutely crucial. It’s especially important as a PCA, since you’ll often be working on your own instead of with a team.

Not only will you need to be able to communicate effectively, but you’ll also need to be a good listener in order to take into account the physical, emotional and other needs of the individuals you’re looking after.

Care assistants will also need to be in contact with their client’s doctors and health professionals, necessitating excellent written and oral communication skills.

Planning and organisation

Planning, preparation and scheduling are key when it comes to organising a routine for the elderly individuals in your care.

As a PCA you’ll have many responsibilities, including:

  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Making day plans
  • Helping run errands

There are a lot of different tasks you’ll need to arrange, and all while working on your own and managing your own schedule.

First-aid training

Accidents happen when you least expect them to – that’s why personal care assistants need to be properly trained in first aid procedures, especially when working with the elderly.

Personal care assistants should be confident enough to identify medical conditions and conduct lifesaving first aid procedures such as:

  • CPR 
  • Identifying signs of stroke and heart attacks
  • Attend to seizures and shocks 
  • Assisting in falls or injury 


The best PCAs are able to demonstrate compassion for their clients – and importantly, clients’ families, too.

As a PCA, you won’t just be caring for the elderly – you’ll also be one of the main people they socialise with, so the ability to make a connection is crucial.

Not only that, but in many cases, if an elderly person requires assistance from a PCA, there’s a high probability that they are suffering from health and mobility issues that impair them from living independently.

This can be extremely frustrating – empathetic individuals will be able to sense emotions and understand others’ feelings, thus providing better care.


In many cases, PCAs don’t work full time with just a single client.

Oftentimes, you might bounce between several throughout the week, helping each one out for a couple of hours a day.

Each of them will have their own requirements, with some needing more care than others.

Not only that, but even when dealing with a single client, you’ll need to wear a lot of different “hats” – one day you might be helping with errands, and the next you might be accompanying them to the GP and taking notes to work into your care plan.

Dealing with all of these different cases requires a lot of flexibility, which is why this is one of the most important attributes a PCA can have.

Do you have to be certified to work as a PCA?

What qualifications you need to be a personal carer

Whether you’re providing care in clinics, home care facilities, hospitals, and even residential establishments, you will need to be a certified aged care worker.

Such qualifications will require you to complete individual support and training that makes you even more competent as a personal care assistant. Some of these qualifications may include…

A completed aged care course

To work as a PCA (or anywhere in aged care), you will need to complete one of our aged care courses first.

This is a legal requirement if you want to work in the industry, as aged care in Australia is a highly regulated industry.

A first aid training certificate

As we mentioned above, to become a certified personal care assistant, you must be able to render first aid to your clients if needed.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to injury and accidents, which is why you need to be prepared to deal with these and know what to do in times of crisis.

And that means getting a first aid certificate.

Practical work experience

Training under a senior personal care assistant or a registered nurse must be qualified as a personal care assistant.

Our Certificate III in Individual Support is taught through a combination of classroom sessions (either face-to-face or online) and workshops, and also includes a practical work placement component, undertaken in a real aged care facility.

Those last two in particular provide you with a range of real-world experience that you can take with you into any aged care role!

Enrol in Academia’s online aged care courses in Melbourne

Did you know that with Academia, you can enrol in a free aged care course online?

Thanks to Victoria’s Skills First funding, you can enrol in a number of government funded courses in Melbourne, which allows eligible students to study for free.

And our online learning system means that you’ll have more flexibility to build your own schedule!

Find out if you are eligible for these government subsidised online courses.

Certificate III in Individual Support

This course is the minimum requirement to work in Australia’s aged care sector, which will help you understand the basics of providing individualised support to the elderly and apply safety practices for their health and safety.

Certificate 3 in Aged Care helps you learn all the basics of providing personal care to the elderly.

Delivered through face-to-face, workshops, and hands-on training by our highly qualified staff, this course provides all the training you need in:

  • Aged care theory
  • Care practices
  • Specialist equipment
  • Legal and ethical requirements

This course also requires you to complete 150 hours of work placement as you learn from our certified and experienced instructors who will help you start a career in aged care.

Certificate IV in Ageing Support

Complete your Certificate III in Individual Support and you can be eligible to continue your training by pursuing Certificate 4 in Aged Care.

Climb up the leadership ladder or build your aged care facility after enrolling in Certificate IV in Ageing Support. This course will prepare you to:

  • Support the elderly with dementia
  • Empower people with disability 
  • Practise safety work practices
  • Provide care through a palliative approach

Discover more about Academia’s online aged care courses

Learn from our team of certified and experienced personal carers who will equip you with all the skills and knowledge needed to embark down the aged care career path you’ve been dreaming of.
Find out more about our aged care courses by filling out this enquiry form or contact our friendly team in Academia on (03) 9671 4755, and we’ll be happy to assist you!