A personal support worker is a health care worker that provides support and assistance to patients. They often work at nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, adult day care centers and assisted living homes. Some of them work directly in a client’s home and it is their support that often allows a patient to remain at home rather than have to move out and go to a nursing home or assisted living home. Their work involves direct contact and interaction with patients who are often times elderly, disabled or very ill. If a client is in a home, they may interact on a daily basis with family who reside with the patient or that visit the patient. For this reason, to become a personal support worker you will need to have excellent communication skills and be able to interact with patients and family in a positive manner.


What are Their Duties?

The duties of a PSW vary depending on the needs of the client and the setting that they work in. Typical duties that they perform including personal care such as assisting with bathing and showering, dressing, using the toilet and personal grooming. The scope of assistance will vary depending on the condition of the patient. For example an elderly patient with limited mobility may require assistance to and from a commode to use the toilet and transfers to a chair to shower. While a patient who is well, but is categorized as a fall risk may only require supervision and limited assistance in the shower and in using the restroom. Other activities typically given to these health care workers include assistance with feeding, meal preparation and recording intake of food and fluids. Light household chore are also commonly done such as washing dishes, doing laundry, household cleaning and maintaining a sanitary living space. Support workers may also change bed linens and towels, and this is especially common in nursing home and hospital settings. Work is often done under the supervision of a doctor or nurse who outline a plan of care for the patient. It is important to note the the support staff do not create the plan of care, that is left to the medical professional. Rather, they fulfill the plan of care and adapt to the needs of the client based on their situation and condition.


How do I Become a PSW?

There are several ways to become a personal support worker in Canada. One avenue is through the completion of personal support worker courses. These courses outline the major duties and responsibilities of a PSW. They also include pertinent information related to the job such as dealing with elderly patients and the ill and some basic medical knowledge. Completion of a personal support worker course leads to a diploma and certification. This will greatly enhance job prospects and employers are eager to hire people who have completed such a course and have a license. Another avenue is for people who have experience working as a health care aide or support worker, but have no license. This will be an abridged or personal support worker course program that will lead to a diploma and certification. Certain skill set requirements may be waived for such candidates depending on their experience.


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