When to hire a personal support worker

When to Hire a Personal Support Worker

Personal support workers (PSWs) play a vital role in improving the care, standard of living, and quality of life for many people. As an integral part of a person’s support and healthcare team, PSWs can assist clients with a variety of needs, such as personal care, the creation of a safe and comfortable environment, medication assistance, personal hygiene, end of life care, and support for the entire family.

A personal support worker is an accredited position that requires seven months of training, including both in person learning and clinical placements.

However, a PSW may not be needed or the right type of personal care and support for you or your loved one. Here, we’ll break down what a PSW is, what they are qualified to assist with, and how to find a National Association of Career Colleges (NACC)-certified PSW that fits your needs.

A person in a wheelchair with a nurse

What is a Personal Support Worker?

While the title of PSW may seem self-explanatory, there is much more to it than you might have originally thought. To put it simply, a personal support worker is someone who provides assistance to patients to ensure that they are living as comfortably and independently as possible. They can be employed in private care homes, healthcare facilities, through an agency, or be hired by individuals and families to provide personal care and support in-home.

Why are PSWs Important?

PSWs merge the fields of healthcare, communication, and social support to provide a holistic approach to patient care for a variety of conditions and needs. By working in tandem with other members of a patient’s interprofessional health care team, they can provide client directed care through physical and personal care.

How to Become a PSW

When hiring a PSW for yourself or a loved one, you should know the requirements and qualifications one must obtain to have this career.

In this section, we outline the necessary steps on how to become a PSW. This will help you better understand the specific training and skills that are developed throughout a typical PSW program. If you are interested in pursuing this career for yourself, continue reading for more information on Cestar’s Personal Support Worker program. 

The PSW Certification Process

Since there is an increasing demand for PSWs in Ontario and Canada, becoming a licensed personal support worker is a two-step process. The only prerequisite required for those who want to pursue this career is an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or an equivalent high school diploma. 

Below are the two steps we outlined in our recent blog post, “How to Become a PSW in Ontario.”


For domestic students, the first step is to apply to a PSW program after completing your Ontario Secondary School Diploma. International students will be required to obtain an OSSD equivalent. While public colleges do offer this type of certification program, it is important to consider the benefits of attending a private, National Association of Career Colleges (NACC)-licensed program.

What is a NACC-Licensed Program?

A NACC-licensed program will have a comprehensive curriculum, involving both in-class and experiential learning, and will equip students for situations they may encounter while working as a PSW. It will also provide them with the opportunity to prepare for the NACC PSW Certification exam. 

What Will A NACC PSW Program Look Like?

Coursework will cover topics such as personal hygiene, emergency first aid procedures, household management tasks, mental health challenges, assisting the dying, assisting clients experiencing cognitive impairment, abuse and neglect, and include extensive clinical hours. Students will also need to pass the NACC examination before officially being considered a PSW.


Once a student has completed a NACC-licensed PSW program, they will have to pass the NACC Personal Support Worker Certification exam.

This certification is extremely beneficial, as it proves the candidate possesses the knowledge and skills needed to successfully work as a PSW in Ontario. It also proves to employers that the certified PSW will be capable of working within many healthcare settings.  

Once you’ve completed these two steps, a student will be a fully certified PSW in Ontario. This certification will create many opportunities, allowing them to move towards their career goals and make a difference within the community. 

All that said, what exactly does a PSW do day-to-day, and how can they become a part of your family’s care team? We’ll explore more below.

What Does a PSW Do?

The day-to-day activities of a PSW depends on where they are employed and who they are assisting.

Typically, PSWs will work with seniors, those with developmental or physical disabilities, the injured, or anyone who needs extra support to manage their daily activities. However, all work undertaken by a PSW will include both physical and social/emotional assistance and can be much more involved than a doctor in regular patient care.

PSWs can assist with daily tasks such as shopping, cooking, and companionship. Depending on your needs, a PSW can also administer medications, help with rehabilitation, or assist the dying.

Another large part of a PSW’s time will be spent supporting the family, rather than just the patient. Conflict resolution, communication skills, and empathy are also important parts of their job.

Ultimately, you will work in tandem with your PSW to create a schedule and list of tasks that will ensure that all you or your patient’s needs are met that you both are comfortable with.

There are also a set of essential personal and professional skills that are required of PSWs. In our blog, “​​The Essential Skills You Need to be a Personal Support Worker,” we dive into the importance of personal skills such as communication, compassion, and problem solving, as well as professional skills like medical care, support, and essential assistance.  

When making this decision, it is important for you to understand all aspects and responsibilities of this role to ensure the health, safety, and happiness of yourself or your family members.

If you believe that a personal support worker is the right choice for you and your family, then you can use the tools below to help you find the best fit and ensure you receive quality support based on your unique needs.

A person stretching a person's arm

How to Find a PSW

Your PSW will become an integral part of your healthcare team and daily life, so it is important you find the right fit. However, you also want to ensure that you find someone who is fully accredited and able to provide the sort of help you need.


The first step is ensuring that your PSW has completed a NACC registered program, as they ensure standards of education and care are regulated through the coursework and exam. Cestar College offers an NACC accredited personal support worker course in Toronto, and you can contact them here to learn about the program.


The Ontario Personal Support Workers Association, or OPSWA, can help you find a registered PSW in your area and help you learn more about their role and how they can assist you and your family.

The Personal Support Worker Registry of Ontario can also provide similar assistance. Going through such regulatory bodies help ensure you receive the very best care from licensed professionals.

You can also use an agency or home care provider who will assign a PSW to you based on your needs, and offer additional services such as short-notice replacements or competitive rates that you may not be able to get through an individual.


However, while someone may be fully accredited, they may not be a good fit for you or your family, so a personal connection is an important consideration. You may want to interview different PSWs, especially if you will be hiring them to provide in-home support services, to ensure that you are all comfortable and able to work together to provide the best care.

Do keep in mind that agencies may not allow for this kind of flexibility due to rotating schedules, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons of in-home care through a private PSW, agency-provided PSWs, or going through a healthcare facility, such as a long-term care home, to determine the best option for you.

What’s Best For You

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing a PSW, you should consider what is best for you, the patient, and your family values. That said, a PSW can become an integral part of your health and personal care team who provides social, physical, and emotional support for a variety of needs and should be considered for anyone who needs extra support in their day-to-day activities. It’s a rewarding role that can elevate the level of care and independence beyond traditional health care to provide the best possible support for any patient.


If you find yourself drawn to this career, then consider applying to Cestar College’s PSW program. At Cestar, we focus on ensuring you have all the requisite skills and training to complete your NAAC examination at the end of your PSW course.

We cover all the professional skills listed above, and more, so that you have the knowledge and capabilities to work in different settings to assist clients while being able to provide high quality care.

Through your placement hours, both in facilities and in the community, you’ll be able to practice these professional and communication skills, develop your personal skills, and build and maintain collaborative working relationships . The more you apply these dynamic skill sets, the more you will understand how these come together in your career as a personal support worker.

After 7 months in Cestar’s NAAC Personal Support Worker Training program, you’ll be ready to assist clients and enter the workforce with the accreditation and skills employers are looking for.

Contact us today to learn more about program availability, admissions, and financial aid!

About Cestar College’s Personal Support Worker Program – Toronto

By applying to Cestar College’s Personal Support Worker program, you’re choosing:

  • One of the most comprehensive personal support work 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 and provide a welcoming learning environment for all students. 
  • Dedicated instructors with years of experience who take pride in seeing their students succeed. 
  • A challenging but rewarding learning experience full of support from Cestar College’s faculty and administrators.

Don’t wait to start such a rewarding career. For more information about our program, visit our Personal Support Worker program page today!

Have any questions for us about program availability, financial assistance, or just general questions about the curriculum? 

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


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