Nursing, Personal Care Attendant (PCA)

Understanding the client

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Understanding the client: A PCA who works in the home environment may work with patients of any age, social background, ethnicity, or religion. Healthcare personnel must respect all clients, their outlooks, opinions, and belief systems. It helps to understand your client if you have a grasp of how our body ages and the physical and psychological stressors that come with each stage.


How the Human Body Ages: From birth until death, your body and mind go through constant changes. Physical changes take place as growth, body development, and aging occur. As the brain develops and learns, psychological growth affects emotions and behavior. These lifelong physical and psychological changes are classified as stages of growth and development. Most people are successful at completing each stage of growth and development, though each individual's level of performance and rate of success will be different. Every client will be unique and caregivers must address needs that are particular to that individual. A good caregiver will give the care needed to return the client to health. A great caregiver will recognize the needs of the whole person and strive to increase their quality of life.


The Infancy Stage: The growth and development of an infant moves along with phenomenal speed. A baby is born completely dependent on a primary caregiver for all physical and psychological needs. Within 12 months, the infant has developed motor skills necessary for mobility and self-feeding, and communication skills to have his needs met. Social skills like responding to smiles and play are also an important part of this stage. Musculoskeletal development during this first year begins with the head and neck, and progresses downward. Neck muscles develop enough strength to hold up and turn the head from side to side. Then the infant will begin learning to control the shoulders, arms, and hands. Next, come the trunk and back for rolling over, leaning, sitting, and bending to reach for a favorite toy. Leg control is the last to develop, and a baby should not be held upright to stand or walk on legs that have not developed. Knowing the sequence of development helps the caregiver note any potential delays. The caregiver should also note that "normal" consists of a wide range of achievements within a wide range of age limits. Parents should never be made to feel that their baby is abnormal. Babies who achieve some things early may be slower getting to other milestones. Some babies who seem to be "slow" in their development may later cross milestones faster than the age range of "normal".