The Right Time to Hire a PSW | Cestar College
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09 Jan 2020

How to Know When to Hire a Personal Support Worker

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    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 with a variety of needs, such as home safety, medication assistance, and support for the entire family. A personal support worker is an accredited position that requires seven months of training, including both in-class study and clinical placements.

    However, a personal support worker may not be needed or the right type of care and support for you or your loved one. Here, we’ll break down what a personal support worker 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.

    Close up of an elderly woman getting help from a PSW

    What is a Personal Support Worker?

    While the title of personal support worker may seem self-explanatory, there is much more to it than you might have originally thought. To put it simply, a PSW 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 support in-home.

    Personal support workers 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 support team, they can provide physical and personal support.

    To become a personal support worker, one needs to complete their OSSD or equivalent, and complete a personal support worker course at an accredited college through the NACC, such as Cestar College’s seven-month PSW course in Toronto. Coursework will cover topics such as hygiene, assisting the dying, cognitive health issues, abuse and neglect, and include extensive clinical hours. Students will also need to pass the NACC examination before officially being considered a personal support worker.

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

    What Does a Personal Support Worker Do?

    The day to day activities of a personal support worker 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 personal support worker will include both physical and social/emotional assistance and can be much more involved than a doctor in regular patient care.

    Personal support workers can assist with daily tasks such as shopping, cooking, and companionship. Depending on your needs, a personal support worker can also administer medications, help with rehabilitation, or assist the dying. Another large part of a personal support worker’s time will be spent supporting the family, rather than just the patient. Conflict resolution, communication, 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.

    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.

    Close up of medication

    How to Find a Personal Support Worker

    Your personal support worker 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 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 personal support workers, especially if you will be hiring them to work in your home, 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 personal support worker, you should consider what is best for you, the patient, and your family. That said, a PSW can become an integral part of your healthcare 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.


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