How to Become a PSW That Someday You Would Wish To Have

Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude and appreciation with each and every resident, client or patient you take care of. You’ll be surprised how they’ll set small flames of appreciation for you that will become rose beacons the next time around.

I aspire to be the PSW that will one day take care of me.

It’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, but as always life has a sneaky way of taking its course and then ending.

With everyone.

Now that’s not to say everyone will end up in a Long-term Care facility, but the odds are pretty good that you will.

There will always be seniors.

Unfortunately there will always be sick people, either with physical disabilities, mental disabilities or both.


When I am at work and am privileged to have a student working alongside with me, I do the very best that I can in teaching them the best way to do this job.

Safely and happily.

No one wants to work with a grumpy PSW, including your residents. Take a moment, step back and think about what life must be like for an 80 year old spending the last years of their life in a LTC facility.

Kindness, compassion, patience and empathy are some of the greatest skills a Personal Support Worker will ever learn.

As a PSW there is whole lot you can do beyond your job description to make your resident feel like a star.

These aren’t packaged goods coming off an assembly line, these are PEOPLE. People who know what it’s like to work – probably more so than our generation – who know what it’s like to have a family, friends, hobbies, thoughts, feelings, urges. These things don’t go away simply because of age or illness.

Yes, there are many challenges in our job description that we as PSWs have to deal with on a daily basis, but taking the time to make that little bit of extra effort really pays off.

For both of you.


Smiling PSW at workThat’s it. Show those pearly whites. You know the saying fake it until you make it?

Do it.

Even if you’re not having the best day, pretend that you are. Your happiness will make your resident feel better and it’ll even rub off on you.


This isn’t a pleasant number. But your resident doesn’t need to know this, nor do they care.

It is not their concern that there is only one of you and 12 other people to attend to.

At this moment in time you are with ONE person. Cater to them. Make them feel good. Talk them up. Use flattery.

As an example, when I am helping a female resident with her hair, I comment on how lovely it is. How I like the color, or how it curls behind her ears. Little things like this go a long way.

Some residents need more time with care than others, meaning your time-management skills will come in very handy during your shift. As much as you need to attend to other people, don’t rush what you are doing with the person you are with at the moment.

Sick residents or those with limited mobility need more time and care. Never show them that they are burden to you and that they are taking up your precious time – frankly, if any resident IS a burden, then get out of the field and quickly.

Before starting care, take a minute to think about how you would like to be treated.

Here are a few simple things that you can do now to make your residents feel like they are the only ones that matter.


Talk about things they like, the things that make them happy.

Is that your grandson in the picture there?

You look pretty in that picture.

Things like this. You can do this while providing care, tidying up the room etc. Point is, it does not take any extra time. This is something you can do while doing other things.

Talking is also a great tactic to use for distraction with difficult residents. If someone is resistive to care, try talking to them in a soft tone of voice while you are doing it.

Point out a colour, an object, make a joke. Before you know it the job will have been completed and your resident will be calm.


The job of a PSW is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. When you have a day away from work, do something for YOU.

Go shopping, hang out with friends, visit family.

When you are a well rested PSW going back to work doesn’t seem like a big deal. As mentioned before, no one, including your resident, likes a grumpy PSW!


If a colleague of yours has a heavier assignment or is having a busy day, offer to help/him or her.

Just saying, “I see you are very busy Janet, is there anything I can help you with”.

More often than not your colleague would know that you are busy too. She may not need your help but your kind gesture could be all she needed.

We are all here to work as a team together.

Nothing upsets me more than when I hear someone say “Well that isn’t my resident, so I won’t go answer the bell”.


We all have our own individual assignments but we must always work collectively with each other and with the residents. If you see a call bell go off, answer it. It’s not that difficult.


How many times have you heard this only to wait with patience for a good, oh, let’s say half an hour?

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Things come up where you may have to leave your resident for a few minutes to take care of something else, and that’s okay, but explain to them why you have to go and be realistic about the time it will take for you get the task done.


Make your choice!

Are you going to be that grumpy worker who comes in to work late and doesn’t give your client the time of day other than to do the bare minimum of your job description?

Or are you going to be that happy PSW ready and excited to work with a  group of seniors and are willing to go above and beyond the job description?

I hope you chose the latter. It isn’t difficult.

A lot of these things can be done WHILE doing care. And if you have the extra 5 minutes, use it to talk to the people you are caring for. A lot of the time they are looking for that one ear to talk to, just someone to sit down and listen to their stories. Smile, laugh, make jokes and BE the PSW that you would want to take care of you.

You’re going to get there. Only time will tell.


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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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