Certified nursing assistants, called CNAs, and caregivers are often employed in home health care. Both are eligible to work as aides in hospitals, clinics and assisted living facilities, but a CNA has training and certification that allows work in certian other facilities. Many CNA jobs are not available to uncertified caregivers.


Caregivers provide assistance to the disabled and elderly with day-to-day functions such ordinary tasks as cooking, housekeeping, doing laundry, driving and paying bills. A caregiver may also help a client to eat, dress or bathe. Some caregivers are employed as live-in companions, with room and board provided by the patient in addition to a regular paycheck. A caregiver that is not providing medical services needs no formal training, licensing or certification.


A certified nursing assistant is formally trained with at least 75 hours of instruction in a state-approved educational facility. Candidates must also pass an examination of competency to earn the title of CNA. Graduates of CNA programs are listed with the registry of nurse aides in the state of training. Some individual states also have requirements such as physical stamina evaluations and disease screening. CNA candidates also commonly have a criminal background check before certification.


Caregivers and CNAs work to aid people who need some level of assistance to live independently in private homes or assisted living facilities. Some clinical employers train caregivers to take vital signs and prepare examination rooms. CNA jobs commonly involve tasks that require clinical medical functions, such as administering medications, providing ambulatory assistance, taking blood and moving bedridden patients. Only certified graduates of CNA programs are qualified to work as assistants in nursing care facilities.

Choosing a CNA or Caregiver

A CNA or caregiver may be employed to work as a home health care assistant for someone in need of limited assistance. The overall condition of the client determines if a CNA is needed to fill the position. Caregivers are qualified to assist patients with mild demetia as long as the client has no medical conditions. A CNA is typically chosen for anyone with diabetes, a previous heart attack or stroke, or ambulatory problems.