Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Program
updated April 21, 2017

The personal care assistance (PCA) program helps you with common daily activities and health-related tasks. You usually get PCA services at home, but you can also get them wherever your daily activities take you, like at the supermarket, at work or school, or even at the movie theater.

How It Helps

The person who helps you is called a personal care assistant (PCA). Common services a PCA can help you with include dressing, bathing, eating, and preparing meals. They can also help with shopping, paying bills, and getting to medical appointments. These are called activities of daily living.

PCAs can help you with these and other important daily activities and health-related tasks, but they can’t help you with things like home maintenance and repairs or medical tasks, such as giving injections.

You can find out more about PCA services on the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) website.

How to Qualify

To qualify for PCA services, you first have to ask the county to look at your situation and needs. During this assessment, which will be done by a provider agency, they will see how much support and what type of help you need.

You might qualify for the PCA program if you live in your own home and you:

  • Need help bathing, getting dressed, moving out of a chair or bed
  • Need services ordered by your doctor
  • Can make your own decisions about care or have someone who can, and
  • Qualify for Medical Assistance (MA).

After the provider agency has checked your situation, you can start getting PCA services if the county says you qualify. If you’re on the borderline of qualifying, you might not get full services but you could still get up to 30 minutes a day of in-home help, so it’s always a good idea to apply.

What You Pay

If your income is low enough, you won’t have to pay for PCA services, but if your income is higher, you may have to pay for some of the services you get. You may also have to pay a spenddown to be covered by your plan.

If you don’t qualify for PCA services, or if you do qualify but want more hours of service than the PCA program will pay for, you can also pay for services with your own money.

How to find a PCA
For the PCA program, there are two types of provider agency that can help you get a personal care assistant:

You get to choose whether you want to use a personal care assistant from a PCA Choice agency or from a traditional PCA agency.

How to Apply

If you qualify for Medical Assistance, the first step is to apply for the PCA program by contacting your local county human services agency to get an assessment. You don’t have to complete any forms before you apply.

During the assessment, a worker will visit your home to find out the type of support and daily living help you need. When the assessment is finished, you’ll get a copy of the results and a letter that tells you how much help you can get and which provider agencies you can choose from.

Once the assessment is done, you can choose a provider agency and, if you’re using PCA Choice, you can hire a PCA directly and start getting services.

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