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As Canada’s population ages, there is a growing need for compassionate and caring individuals who can provide personalized support to those facing health and lifestyle challenges. Whether helping seniors maintain independence or supporting those with chronic illnesses, personal support workers (PSWs) are crucial in improving the quality of life for many.
As seniors choose to remain in their own homes or opt for residential services and more prevalent chronic illnesses mean more care responsibilities for family members, personal support workers play a crucial role in ensuring a graceful and dignified life for those in their care now, more than ever.
Canada is entering a critical time as our population ages and 44% of adults now have a chronic illness, meaning there has never been a better time to consider a fulfilling career as a personal support worker. Let's explore the job, its role in healthcare, what it takes to become a PSW and the benefits of being part of this growing and rewarding profession.
What is a Personal Support Worker?
A personal support worker (PSW) is a personal care aid who supports individuals who may require extra care due to age, illness, or disability. They may use their knowledge of senior care strategies to work in a senior home as a home care provider or in care facility, with a large percentage being home care workers, assisting those seniors who choose to remain in their homes. The primary duties of a PSW are to help clients go about their daily activities safely and securely. These duties in a caregiver job description may include:
- Bathing, dressing, and grooming
- Aiding with mobility and exercises
- Maintaining or improving a client’s physical well-being
- Emotional support for clients and their families
- Companionship, including spending quality time with clients to enhance their mental and emotional health
- Monitoring and documenting a client's health status
- Administering medications as prescribed
- Collaborating with healthcare professionals to develop and implement care plans
- Light housekeeping tasks
- Providing transportation to help clients remain independent
- End-of-life care for clients and families dealing with grief
As a PSW, your service has a profound impact on people's lives. By prioritizing the safety and comfort of clients, you truly make an impact on their lives and day to day happiness.
Where Do Personal Support Workers Work?
Personal support workers in Canada can find employment in a variety of settings across the country. The demand for PSWs is generally high due to Canada’s aging population, a high number of chronic illnesses, and the increasing preference for home and community-based care. Here are some common places where personal support workers might find employment in Canada:
Long-term Care Facilities: These are some of the primary employers of PSWs, who assist elderly residents with daily activities, personal care, and social needs.
Home Care Services: Many personal support workers work in-home supportive services, providing assistance to clients in their own homes. This can include helping with daily activities, personal care, and sometimes light housekeeping.
Hospitals: PSWs can work in various hospital settings, assisting with patient support services under the direction of nursing staff.
Community Health Care Agencies: These agencies often hire personal support workers to assist clients with various needs in community settings.
Retirement Homes: Similar to long-term care facilities, retirement homes often employ PSWs to assist residents with daily activities.
Hospice & Palliative Care: Personal support workers may work in hospice or palliative care settings, providing compassionate care to individuals and families at the end of life.
Respite Care Services: These services provide temporary relief for primary caregivers, often employing PSWs to step in and provide care.
Private Duty Care: Some personal support workers work independently or through agencies to provide private care for families or individuals
Specialized Care Facilities: Facilities that cater to specific groups, such as those with disabilities, mental health issues, or rehabilitation needs, also employ PSWs.
The Role of a Personal Support Worker in the Health System
As a personal support worker, you are an essential part of Canada's healthcare system. You not only collaborate with doctors, nurses, therapists, and other healthcare professionals but use your compassion and empathy to help individuals needing care navigate the healthcare system. It's the compassionate care of personal support workers that help to promote a more patient-centred approach to healthcare, leading to fewer hospital readmissions and a safer environment for elderly patient care.
Personal support workers contribute significantly to Canada’s healthcare infrastructure and improve the well-being of elderly people clients by using their illness and disability support techniques, patient care techniques, and compassionate nature to assist with daily activities, medication management, and emotional support. They address not only the physical aspects of patients’ health, but also their psychological and emotional well-being.
Why Personal Support Workers Are in Demand
The healthcare landscape in Canada is continuously evolving, and personal support workers are playing a key role in the developments. PSWs are in more demand than ever before, and the demand doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon, meaning more opportunities for care worker professional development and growth. There are a few reasons why the demand is growing:
Aging Population: Canada’s population is aging, with one in four Canadians set to be 65 years of age of age or older by 2043. This increasing senior demographic means that more workers will be needed to ensure those heading into their golden years are safe and comfortable, and to meet the growing demand across the country.
Healthcare Sector Growth: The healthcare sector as a whole is expanding in Canada which means there is a growing need for healthcare professionals, including personal support workers.
Preference for In-Home Care: There is a growing preference for in-home care. Seniors and those with disabilities or chronic illnesses to receive care in the comfort of their own home instead of institutional settings. This shift is increasing the needs for PSWs in a disability caregiver role who can provide this kind of care.
Shortage in Healthcare Staffing: Many regions across Canada are experiencing shortage in nursing and other healthcare professions, leading to a greater reliance on personal support workers to fill gaps in care.
Increased Recognition of the PSW Role: The growing understanding and recognition for the essential role that personal support worker’s play in the healthcare system is leading to more formalized professional caregiver training programs and better health caregiver opportunities.
There are also indications that a shortage of personal support workers is expected in the coming years, leaving a lot of job opportunities for those looking to get into this field. In the 2022 – 2031 period, there are expected to be 34,500 job openings for individuals in this field, with only 33,800 new job seekers.
Personal support workers are in demand across the country, with increased funding and focus on community care being contributing factors to the demand.
Essential Traits: The Core Characteristics of a Personal Support Worker
The best way to understand the characteristics of a personal support worker is to look at the six 'C's.:
- Commitment: Being reliable, responsible, and capable of maintaining confidentiality.
- Compassion: Working to promote dignity and independence in those who trust you with their care is an essential caregiver skill.
- Communication: A vital skill that builds trust and maintains open lines of communication with clients, their families, and healthcare professionals.
- Cooperation: Understanding the diverse needs of each patient and working with them to better their well-being
- Collaboration: Working alongside other healthcare professionals to respond effectively and meet the needs of everyone in their care.
- Care: The core of a personal support worker. Ensuring the overall well-being of those under their care, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
When you take these concepts to heart as a personal support worker, you enhance the quality of life for those under your care and contribute significantly to the well-being of the broader healthcare community.
Responsibilities of a Personal Support Worker
In the day-to-day life of a Personal Support Worker (PSW), every moment is dedicated to the well-being of those they assist. From the morning routines that kickstart the day to the comforting evening rituals, a PSW's daily work is a blend of empathy and commitment. While their actual duties may vary depending upon the setting in which they are enhancing the lives of the individuals they care for, the fundamental support worker responsibilities remain the same:
- Providing personalized one-on-one care to patients
- Assisting with the personal care and daily activities of patients
- Helping patients to fulfill their individual goals
- Assisting with leisure activities
- Ensuring the safety and welfare of patients
- Satisfying the mental and emotional needs of patients
- Keeping accurate daily records and reports
- Adhering to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations
The primary responsibility of any PSW is to ensure the safety of patients. This means closely monitoring any changes in their physical or cognitive state and identifying any potential dangers or hazards that could cause harm. Staying vigilant and acting quickly if you notice anything unusual can help prevent injuries and promote the well-being of the individuals in your care.
The Rewards of Being a Personal Support Worker
One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a personal support worker is the opportunity to positively impact the lives of clients and their families. Witnessing their comfort and appreciation is a reminder of the significant and compassionate role PSWs play in their care. It is a truly fulfilling job that can’t be compared to many others. You provide an invaluable service that cannot be measured solely in monetary terms. The positive impact you make on the lives of those you care for comes in many ways, including:
Make a Life Better: As a PSW, you become a beacon of positivity in someone’ life. By helping seniors feel valued and respected, you enhance their quality of life and increase their feeling of self-worth, leaving you with a feeling of accomplishment.
Sense of Safety: You provide peace of mind to the families of seniors. It is common for adult children to live far away from their parents or have a busy lifestyle, leaving them unable to manage their parent's well-being. By hiring a PSW, the patient receives the necessary assistance to maintain their health, and the children can relax knowing that their loved ones are being looked after, contributing to your own job satisfaction.
Job Stability: Since there is a high demand for personal support workers, the employment opportunities will remain high for some time. The knowledge that your skills and not only valued but also sought after provides a sense of security, pride, and peace of mind.
Flexibility: Many PSW positions offer flexible working hours, allowing you to balance work with personal life responsibilities and positively affect your own well-being.
Job satisfaction: The gratitude you receive as a PSW and the knowledge that you have personally had a huge positive impact on the lives of others is extremely satisfying, both professionally and personally.
Reasons to Become Personal Support Worker
You now know the duties, responsibilities, and rewards of being a PSW, but why should you consider this line of work? Putting your caring nature to work is a good reason, as helping others comes naturally. Other reasons include:
Make an Impact: We have all felt the joy and satisfaction you get from helping someone, so why not do that every day and get paid for it? Enhancing someone’s quality of life while fostering friendships is a benefit that cannot be topped.
Be Part of a Team: As part of the healthcare community, you are an essential part of a group of professionals working tirelessly for the comfort of others. You are on the front line of health care, and the people you work for and with understand what an important role you play.
Every Day is Different: No two days are the same when you work as a PSW. Each day, you will meet and care for new people, experience new and different environments, and face new challenges to test your abilities.
Take Pride in Your Work: At the end of your workday, you can leave with the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference. Whether it is the smile on someone’s face or the joy they get from your company, you will go away knowing you have a sense of purpose.
How Do You Become a Personal Support Worker
Becoming a personal support worker starts with earning a PSW diploma from a recognized college such as Sundance College. Our Personal Support Worker Diploma Program provides the personal care assistant training you need to confidently enter this in-demand healthcare profession. You can be ready to start your new career and initiate your support worker career growth in less than a year, learning in a hybrid environment of online classes and in-person training. Some of the core topics covered in the program include:
Personal Service Worker Foundation: Learn anatomy, physiology, aging, and how to promote client dignity, independence, and care.
Body Systems: This course combines scientific knowledge with the clinical pathologies that students will encounter in their future career. For example, the science of disease and injury.
First Aid: Learn to provide first aid to various injuries and administer life-saving skills such as CPR.
Safety and Mobility: Acquire the fundamentals like elderly care skills and clinical problem-solving and critical thinking to ensure patient safety.
Assisting with Medications: Using health care standards, discover the methods to administer medications safely and effectively.
You will also be taught administrative functions and how to communicate effectively with patients and other healthcare officials. There is also a 7-week practicum designed to give you practical experience and improve your hands-on skills. Upon completing the program, students receive a PSW diploma, qualifying them to work as compassionate caregivers in the Canadian healthcare system.
How Much Do Personal Support Workers Earn?
There is a high demand for personal support workers across Canada, and you can explore many healthcare career pathways. A PSW's salary depends upon several factors including the location of your work. Generally, an average salary may be in the range of $45,385.
The amount you earn as a PSW also depends on whether you are looking for part-time or full-time work. For example, personal support worker in an institutional setting is more likely to be salaried as opposed to being paid at an hourly rate. Depending on what you want, there are advantages to both:
- With a salary, you know how much monthly money you earn
- Scheduled work hours
- Benefits and annual holidays
- Schedule flexibility
- Overtime pay for holidays
- With hourly wages, you can increase your pay by taking on more work
Put Your Empathy and Compassion to Work
Becoming a personal support worker is not just a career choice; it is a calling to make a positive and profound impact on the lives of others. This career path allows you to provide compassionate care, companionship, and assisted living support to seniors and their families, as well as develop meaningful connections with those in your care. The personal and professional rewards are immeasurable as you become a pillar of strength, comfort, and dignity for individuals facing various challenges. It is a career path filled with purpose, personal growth, and the fulfillment of knowing that your work truly matters.
Contact Sundance College Today
If you are looking to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable individuals and get started in a meaningful, heartwarming career, contact us today to learn more about our Personal Support Worker Diploma Program and to ask any questions you may have.