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Personal Support Worker Job Description

According to the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC), there are no uniformly established duties for PSWs in the province.

College of Nurses (CNO) has stated that unlike Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), PSWs are primarily required to  perform tasks  for patients  that are direct, front-line and hands-on.

“The work of a PSW is directed by a plan of care developed by a regulated care provider. The PSW does not organize the care plan but is responsive to it in supporting the client.” 

The fundamentals of a Personal Support Worker job description are the same everywhere however; its scope of practice is governed by many factors such as:

  • Type of setting (Private home, Long-Term Care home, Retirement home, Clinical care setting)
  • Requirements of the family or client when working in a private setting
  • Policies and procedures of the clinical care setting
  • Type of Personal Support Worker(PSW) training
  • Type and amount of experience
  • Legislation

Therefore, PSW job description can be personalized and customized according to the type of support someone needs.

Often tasks performed are based on the patient specific care plan put together by Registered Healthcare Professional(s).

PSW job description

Although job description of a Personal Support Worker is determined by many factors however, one very important consideration to keep in mind is that, regardless of the experience and skills, a PSW always work with the patients, residents or a client whose health is fairly predictable and are considered to be medically and clinically stable.


The PSW job description will always vary but in general, some of the common duties are:

  • Following the care plan, observing and reporting any substantial findings and/or changes in patient/resident/client’s behavior to the appropriate registered member of the healthcare team.
  • Working under the supervision of a Registered Healthcare Professional such as a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)
  • Performing tasks delegated to them (only if they are trained to perform the delegated task)
  • Assisting with ambulation, positioning and transferring using mechanical lifts such as a Hoyer lift.
  • Assisting or providing total personal care such as toileting, bathing and perineal care.
  • Assisting with eating, dressing and grooming.
  • Assisting nursing staff by answering call bells (In Hospitals and Long-Term care homes)
  • Performing sitter duty or patient watch for confused patients in clinical care settings.
  • Computer or paper documentation of Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) and other findings.
  • Reporting behavioral and clinical changes to a Registered Nurse, Registered Practical Nurse, Resource Nurse or Manager.
  • Self actualization by helping patient/resident/client to reach maximum potential.

Besides the above listed duties that a PSW can carry out, the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) sets out guidelines that allow unregulated health professionals to perform certain controlled acts.

Additionally, PSWs are required to possess a skill set of abilities that will enable them to perform their job effectively as well.

These abilities include:

  • Overall competency in working under pressure
  • Experience in providing general care and support
  • Knowledge of home care services
  • Proficient in written communication
  • Proficient in oral communication



Close patient observation is often required in hospitals or other type of acute care settings.

Patient’s on a high risk of fall due to post operative delirium or confused due to some kind of a disease process are required to be monitored twenty four hours a day.

PSW’s are utilized for these type of tasks.

Following are the of duties that a Personal Support Worker is expected to perform during a patient observation:

Prior to start of the shift, a PSW must report to the nurse assigned to the patient and explore pertinent information that you may need during the day.If the patient is independent, these tasks can be performed by herself but if not, a PSW must ensure that they are completed and reported to a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) at the end of the shift. 


  • Mouth care – provide supplies and assist
  • Bathing – Partial or full bed bath, set-up basin at bedside or shower
  • Dressing and grooming including shaving
  • Observe and report the following when providing personal hygiene: dry, cracked, swollen or blistered lips, loose teeth and redness or swelling of the gums, condition of the dentures and any other pain or discomfort.
  • Also observe for any skin redness on the bony prominences such as coccyx, heels, elbows, shoulder blades and back of the head.


  • Set up food tray in front of the patient
  • Feed patient as directed. Please note if the patient has any swallowing difficulties, if head of the bed need to be elevated to a certain degree and type of diet patient is on such as regular, diabetic, puréed, honey/nectar thick etc.
  • Measure intake – amount of food from the tray. Sips, 1/4th, 1/2, 3/4th or full. Also measure the amount of fluid intake.


  • Provide toileting to the patient according to the schedule using a bedpan, urinal, commode or ambulate to bathroom. Please note that when transferring patient to the commode, you may need assistance from another staff depending upon how much the patient is able to participate in the transfer. Also keep in mind the weight bearing status when transferring and ambulating patient’s.
  • If the patient is incontinent, discourage the use of a diaper. If patient has a particular type of incontinence such as stress, urge or overflow, please be aware of available products such as pads, liners and mesh panties.
  • Change incontinent pads and dipaers while providing proper peri-care.
  • Measure output. If incontinent, describe output as small, medium or large. Also record the number of bowel movements including the consistency, texture and amount (small, medium or large).


  • If independent, encourage self ambulation.
  • Provide assistance using a cane, walker or during transfer.
  • Encourage patient to sit up in the chair, as directed.
  • If the patient is on bed-rest, it is very important for a PSW to reposition according to the protocol. Patient’s on bed-rest need to be repositioned every two, three or four hours depending upon the risk of skin breakdown.


  • If the patient is on any type of restraints, monitor patient closely and report any changes.
  • Wear protective gear such as mask, gown and or gloves if the patient is on any type of isolation.
  • Depending upon the risk of fall, monitor patient closely.
  • Ensure bed is in the lowest position, call bells are within reach and bed alarms are working.


  • Confused,  patients with dementia, delirium or depicting aggressive behaviour need to be monitored very closely.
  • Provide orientation to date, time and place.

A PSW is also responsible for changing bed linen and keeping room clutter free.


When working IN such settings, PSW job duties include:

  • Assistance with toileting, bathing and dressing
  • Preparing meals
  • Walking the family dog
  • Grocery shopping and
  • Generally assist the client with any activity they would do if able to live independently.


In a clinical setting, PSW’s job depends upon the policies and procedures of the institution. Some of the typical tasks associated with such settings are:

  • Assist nurses and physical therapy staff with the personal care of patients and physical therapy goals.
  • In long term care: Assist in dementia care by doing cognitive activities.
  • Paper or computer documentation

The work is always closely supervised by either a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).

6 comments… add one
  • Karisten February 19, 2014, 4:49 pm

    I had no idea what PSW’s do in a hospital setting. This is great information I have come across.
    IT has helped me get some prospective on what I can expect to do if I work in a hospital.

    • Avtar February 26, 2014, 5:52 pm

      Glad to know the article was helpful!

  • eliteessaywriters November 29, 2017, 9:20 am

    i am happy to read such posts

  • michelle December 5, 2017, 4:10 am

    Hi there, I am very interested in the field and really enjoy your site.
    I was wondering do you have any information regarding schools that train for PSW that are less expensive or are free. If i wanted to go to college to take it, then i would end having to quit my job. IAre there any schools out there that is lower price or free or apprenticeship for PSW??
    I don’t want to take a loan or get oasp or owe money. I just want to go to school pay for it myself but I cannot afford hundred and thousands for dollars. I woudl greatly appreciate any help you can provide.
    yours kindly

    • Avtar December 5, 2017, 9:45 am

      Michelle…thank you for your wonderful comment!
      Some of the District School Boards offer the PSW program for a very minimal fee. You can click here to read more on this.
      There are many colleges that offer this program online as well. Fees for online programs are usually less as compared to traditional programs. Click here to read more on this.
      And to explore all other options for taking a PSW course in Ontario, you can click here.
      Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.
      All the best!

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