A classroom full of PSW students

How to Choose the Right Personal Support Worker (PSW) Program for You

Personal support workers (PSWs) are providers of care services that work closely with clients that are elderly, recovering, or disabled. This rewarding career in healthcare is also highly in-demand in the job market, offering great stability and varied job opportunities to choose from.

Currently, working as a personal support worker does not need a license. Therefore, what employers are really looking for is someone who has the right mindset for the job, is equipped with the needed skills and knowledge, possesses a personal support worker certificate from a reputable institution, and has relevant real-world experience. 

With the right personal support worker program, you will be equipped with the skills you need to succeed in this field. 

We’ve compiled a checklist of attributes that you should consider if you’re interested in enrolling in a personal support worker program but are unsure of how to choose the right one for you.

Let’s get started!

How to Choose the Right PSW Course for You

1. A Personal Support Worker Course That is Comprehensive and Adheres to the Ontario PSW Training Standard

It’s very important that the personal support worker program you choose will equip you with all the knowledge and skills needed to safely undertake a personal support worker role.

These knowledge and skills include:

  • Client Care Techniques: Learning how to assist clients with daily and household management tasks.
  • Common Health Conditions: Familiarizing yourself with common ailments and mental health challenges among seniors.
  • End of Life Care: Understanding the physical and emotional toll of death.
  • Communication Skills: Learning to be an excellent communicator with your clients.

Additionally, make sure to do thorough research on the personal support worker program and its curriculum. The program you choose should include essential personal support worker subject matters such as:

  • PSW Foundations
  • Safety and Mobility
  • Body Systems
  • Assisting with Personal Hygiene
  • Abuse and Neglect
  • Household Management Tasks, Nutrition and Hydration
  • Plan of Care Service, Restorative Care, Documentation, and Working in the Community
  • Assisting the Family, Growth and Development
  • Assisting the Dying Person
  • Assisting with Medications
  • Cognitive and Mental Health Challenges and Brain Injuries
  • Health Conditions
  • Clinical Placements (Community)
  • Clinical Placements (Facility)

Finally, the program must also adhere to the Ontario Personal Support Worker Training Standard as set by the National Association of Career Colleges. Typically such programs are affixed with “NACC” in their program title or would mention this in the program details.

2. A Personal Support Worker Program That Gives You Quality Certification

Another detail to look for in the curriculum is the level of credentials that the personal support worker program would give you; it should state “certificate.”

This is the credential that graduates of a PSW program need to be able to secure promising jobs within a personal support worker role. Typically, reputable academic institutions would issue numbered certificates to their graduates, thereby strengthening the affiliation of the graduate to the institution. 

Understandably, the issuer of the certificate does not go unnoticed by employers. This is why it’s important to obtain your PSW training from a reputable and respected provider that is in good standing with Career Colleges Ontario (CCO) and complies with the standards set by the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC).

3. Accelerated but Has a Good Number of Practical Hours

A personal support worker has one of the most fast-tracked training programs available for a healthcare career. This is enticing to many people who want to get a quick start in the healthcare industry and make a difference in people’s lives as soon as possible. However, as accelerated as the training programs are, standardized programs in Ontario need to meet the minimum required hours as stated in Ontario’s laws

According to Ontario’s laws on “Qualifications of personal support workers,” the PSW program must offer a minimum of 600 hours, counting both class time and practical experience time. Certain institutions, such as Cestar College, may add extra hours to this minimum requirement in order to ascertain that graduates are thoroughly prepared to undertake all the duties associated with the personal support worker role.

4. Immersive and Addresses All Learning Styles

Though standard PSW training programs may include similar subjects in their curriculum, the methods for facilitating learning are unique to every training provider.

Therefore, you would want to look into a program’s instructional methods. The best personal support worker programs would be able to address various learning styles, making the educational journey immersive and experiential for everyone.

Types of instructional methods used in adult education programs include interactive lectures, seminars, practical work, as well as independent and team projects.    

5. A PSW Course That Will Give You Real-World Experience in a Personal Support Worker Role

Gaining practical experience in a real-world setting is beneficial for students because it cements all the important skills and knowledge imparted by their instructors. Additionally, clinical placement is required by Ontario’s laws, as stated under the section “Qualifications of personal support workers.” 

Currently, the number of hours for practical experience is not stated in these legal regulations, leaving it to the discretion of each individual training institution. The benchmark, however, should be around half or nearly half of the total course time – so, at least 300 hours. This is because most new graduates who are looking for their first PSW jobs would only have this experience to leverage when interviewed by employers. 

On top of having a good number of hours, the best training institutions would also diversify the environments (e.g. communities and facilities) where students have their clinical placements. This is yet another benefit in terms of hire-ability once the students graduate.

How to Choose the Right PSW Course for You

6. Taught By Experienced Instructors

You would want to make sure that the instructors for your PSW course have had their own share of experience in the field of care service.

This way, they can add more value to your learning experience and are in the best position to answer in-depth questions that you may have regarding a variety of things like how to maintain collaborative working relationships, how best to handle end of life care, how best to handle client and family choices, and so on.

7. Acknowledges the Demands of Adult Education

According to Adult Learning Principles, the most effective training programs for adults are goal-oriented, practical, and self-directed. So, in order for you to get the most out of your education, make sure that the PSW course provider that you choose is one that adheres to these vital principles.

8. Has Financing Options Available

If you are hesitating to start PSW training because of current financial challenges, you can look for a school that offers financing options for its students

9. A PSW Course From an Institution That Will Offer Career Assistance

Some institutions will provide standard training and then leave their graduates without further career guidance.

We want to establish here that this doesn’t have to be the norm. There are institutions out there, like Cestar College, that offer career management assistance and job placement assistance to make sure their personal support workers get all the guidance they need. 

What Are My Next Steps?

If you’re looking for an institution that checks all of the above characteristics, then look no further.

At Cestar College, we prepare our students for success as PSWs with a comprehensive and standardized curriculum, delivered using the most effective instructional approaches. We also make sure that our faculty is composed of experienced instructors who can truly add value to the learning experience.

Furthermore, our diverse clinical placements for students, employer-recognized certification, and job placement assistance ensure that graduates have no trouble landing a job immediately. 

If you have any questions about our PSW course or would like to get started, please feel free to contact us!

About Cestar College’s Program

By applying to Cestar College’s personal support worker program, you’re choosing:

  • One of the most comprehensive personal support worker curriculums in Ontario, covering all aspects of healthcare available to PSW graduates. 
  • 700 hours of learning, including 200 hours of Clinical Placement and 110 hours of Facility Placement, giving you the benefits of real-life work experience while still in school. 
  • A campus conveniently located in Toronto, providing students with access to every amenity possible.
  • Small class sizes that foster discussion-based education, provide a welcoming learning environment for all students and allow you to maintain collaborative working relationships.
  • Dedicated instructors with years of experience who take pride in seeing their students succeed. 
  • A challenging but rewarding learning experience full of support from all Cestar College faculty and administrators.

For more information about our program, visit our program page today!

Have any questions for us? 

Please feel free to contact us. One of our representatives will be happy to assist you!

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