Dementia Specific Education for Personal Support Workers

The role that a Personal Support Worker plays within the Healthcare System in Ontario is of massive significance.

Because of the diversity of services that are provided by Personal Support workers, it is vital that they take part in continuing education and training programs. Personal Support Worker Education cannot be underestimated in its ability to equip workers for the massive responsibility of meeting the needs of the patient.

One of the areas in which the need for improved training and awareness exists is in dealing with patients/clients with dementia.

Vital Nature of Dementia Specific Education

Dementia is one of the most misunderstood diseases that affect those who are aging. Public educator coordinator of the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, Andrea Nicholson, points out that a lack of understanding when it comes to dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s leads to improper engagement and handling of patients suffering from dementia.

For instance, she says that one of the common mistakes made by misinformed individuals when engaging dementia patients is the proclivity to infantilize the patient. She says this only exacerbates the indignity of the disease. Personal Support Worker education is vital to improving the level of treatment received by dementia patients.

PSW Training to Properly Serve Dementia Patients

Dementia Specific EducationThere are PSW courses that provide necessary training that will properly equip support workers with skills and knowledge required to confidently engage their dementia patients. Andrea Nicholson is one of the six-member team that provides specific skills training for PSW’s who deal directly with dementia patients.

There is a common fallacy that implies that all personal caregivers are adequately trained to properly cope with their patients that are in various stages of dementia.

“Truth is that far too many caregivers are not properly trained to manage the immense responsibility of caring for patients with dementia”.

PSW training courses that are provided through Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto, equip PSW’s to understand and meet the unique and specific needs of patients with dementia.

 A Failure on the Front Line

Another member of the Alzheimer’s team, Esther Atemo, attests to the fact that front-line workers, those that are most directly involved with dementia patients, are generally ill-equipped to deal with the needs and requirements of these patients.

PSW courses that are offered by Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto provide an opportunity for a Personal Support Worker to become thoroughly equipped to deal with specific demands associated with dealing with clients and patients that are suffering from dementia.

Become Certified in Dementia Specific Services

Courses related to dementia care are provided by the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto.

Currently, these classes are being held at 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario unless otherwise specified.

To register for these courses, please click here.

PSW courses for dementia consists of a 12 hour program that costs $150, along with a nine hour follow up course that costs $100.

This course teaches specifics that are not taught in college healthcare courses, such things like having the ability to read actions and reactions of the patient.

For example, a patient that is displaying aggressive or agitated behavior may be suffering from a painful infection or the person that recoils from the touch of a caregiver may be suffering from arthritic pain, or could be reliving a past painful episode. Learning how to decipher and deal with all of the possibilities will go a long way in developing the capacity to provide the quality of service the patient deserves.

With one of every six seniors in Canada suffering from some form of dementia, it stands to reason that qualified personal will be needed to properly service this growing population. PSW’s will not only improve their ability to serve the client with this extended training course, but they will also increase their earning potential and marketability.

Reference: Goar, C. (2013, September 11). Front-line faltering in Alzheimer’s battle: Goar. Retrieved from

Image credit: Used under a Creative Commons Attribution from Vince Alongi on Flickr.

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Avlin is passionate about helping aspirants become better personal support workers. He is an entrepreneur and runs a clinic in Toronto.

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