What It Takes to Be a Personal Support Worker

When considering the options in becoming a valuable member of a health care team, an often overlooked position with much growth potential is the Personal Support Worker. It takes a great deal of dedication, a specific education and excellent interpersonal skills to be successful as a Personal Support Worker (PSW). Here are some points on what it takes:

What is a PSW?

A personal support worker provides long or short term care to patients as companions and personal aides to those who cannot provide for themselves.

What is needed to become a PSW?

A diploma in a PSW program is required. Standards for the course were developed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario and the Ontario Community Support Association.

What are some of the detailed tasks a PSW may be expected to conduct?

There is a long list of duties a PSW may have to complete based on the facility in which they are employed and the needs of their individual patients. This list covers most of the duties, but more may be required based on the patient assigned:

  • Personal hygiene and dressing
  • Assisting in patient mobility
  • Home management such as laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping
  • Child care
  • Attending recreational or social activities
  • Mechanical lifts and transfers
  • Checking and recording vitals
  • Assisting in the teaching of life skills
  • Rehabiltative and range of motion assistance
  • Oxygen therapies
  • Supportive care worker for hospices and palliative care
  • Records and documents procedures

What are some of the attributes required for a PSW?

In the role of a PSW there are many significant personality traits required to ensure the best care for patients. Some of those attributes include:

  • Patience and kindness when dealing with many frustrating personalities and challenging situations.
  • Ability to deal with emotional situations.
  • Physical strength to assist in mobility and lifting.
  • Compassion to help patients feel cared for and less of a burden.
  • Creativity to keep patients occupied with activities to help the day pass more quickly. 
  • Professionalism to remain emotionally detached while offering kind and attentive care.

This information will help those interested in pursuing a career as a PSW discover if it is a career path to which they are well suited. Opportunities exist in long-term care facilities, hospitals, congregate housing and private homes. There are many families and patients in need of personal care allowing for a long and successful career in the PSW field.