A Personal Support Worker (PSW), also referred to as a Personal Care Attendant, is a person who tends to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of those who are unable to do these things for themselves.
Typically, PSWs care for the elderly; however, they can also tend to those who are disabled or who are suffering from long-term illnesses. In this role, you’ll work under the direct supervision of a medical professional – a doctor or nurse, for example – and the services you provide can be performed in various settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and private residences.
Personal Support Workers are in demand in all locations; however, in Canada, in particular, the demand for these professionals is increasing, as the aging population is increasing.
As a PSW, your primary responsibility will be ensuring the overall health and well-being of your patients. While the duties of this job vary and depend on the specific needs of those you are caring for, examples of some of the things that you will be responsible for include ensuring that your patients have access to nutritious meals and assisting them with everyday tasks such as dressing, bathing, and more.
You’ll also work with an interdisciplinary team to develop goals and the most effective strategies to ensure that the patients you serve are receiving the highest quality of care.
As with all careers, there are benefits and disadvantages associated with working as a PSW. If you’re considering this role as a career option, before committing, it’s important to be aware of these benefits and disadvantages so that you can determine if it is, in fact, the right option for you.
Pros of Becoming a Personal Support Worker
Working as a personal support worker offers several benefits. Below, we highlight some of the most notable advantages of working in this field.
Job Growth and Demand
When it comes to selecting a career, the stability and career outlook of a position are extremely important factors that should be taken into consideration. Personal Support Workers have a positive career outlook. In recent years, there has been a surge in demand for these professionals, and in the coming years, this demand is projected to grow. This is true in countries throughout the world, particularly in Canada.
There are several factors that are contributing to the increased demand for PSWs. The aging population is one of the top drivers of the surge in demand for personal support workers. As individuals age, performing everyday tasks can become more challenging; hence why the elderly are the primary population that PSWs work with. Furthermore, more and more elderly patients prefer home-based care. They would rather remain in their own homes than relocate to assisted living or aged-care facilities. However, to be able to do this, many elderly require assistance with day-to-day tasks, which is where PSWs come in.
Another factor that has contributed to the increased demand for personal support workers is the coronavirus crisis. Many elderly and otherwise vulnerable individuals, such as those who are suffering from disabilities, injuries, and chronic illnesses, who would have otherwise relocated to assisted living and long-term care facilities have opted to remain in their private residences to avoid being exposed to the pathogen. In order to remain in their homes, these patients require the assistance of PSWs to ensure their safety and well-being. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of and increased the need for PSWs in hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities, as well.
Finally, the surge in demand for PSWs in recent years and moving forward is also due to the need to replace those who are currently working in this field. Many home health and personal care aides have already or are expected to either leave the profession to work in different fields or will be leaving the workforce altogether, either to retire or for other personal reasons.
The increase in demand for Personal Support Workers is highlighted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, home health and personal care aides, which Personal Support Workers are considered, are expected to grow by 25 percent in the decade between 2021 and 2031. This rate of growth is significantly higher than the average growth rate for all occupations. As per the BLS, there will be approximately 711,700 openings for home health and personal care aides each year between 2021 and 2031.
Fulfilling and Rewarding Career
While job stability is certainly a major reason to find working as a PSW appealing, it isn’t the only reason. On a more personal level, being a Personal Support Worker can also be very fulfilling and rewarding. There are several reasons why this job can be personally fulfilling and rewarding. Examples include:
· As a PWS, you will be providing vulnerable individuals with the assistance they need to enjoy a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. Many people take for granted the fact that they can perform everyday tasks, such as personal grooming, cooking, eating, and more. The elderly, disabled, and injured individuals, however, often have a hard time performing these tasks for themselves. By providing care and support, you will make a marked difference in the overall happiness and well-being of others.
· Personal Support Workers can also have a positive impact, not only on the lives of the patients that they serve but on the lives of their patients’ loved ones, as well. You’ll offer your patients companionship and will provide them with the support and encouragement they need to lead happy and healthy lives. Your patients’ family and friends, they’ll have peace of mind knowing that their elderly, disabled, or injured loved ones are receiving the care they need to thrive.
Another key benefit of working as a PSW is the flexibility that this career provides. You’ll have the opportunity to work in several settings, including personal residences, assisted living and aged care facilities, and hospitals. Scheduling for PSWs tends to be quite flexible, which can be particularly advantageous if you have other responsibilities to attend to, such as tending to your own children or loved ones.
Finally, PSWs salaries are usually quite competitive. While the pay rate varies and depends on several factors, such as your employer, where you will be working (both the geographic location and the setting), the amount of training and experience you have, and your specific responsibilities, generally speaking, the pay rate for these professionals is competitive. In addition to a competitive salary, many PSWs also receive benefits. Though the specific benefits you’ll receive vary and depend on your employer, examples include health insurance, paid time off, and even retirement plans.
Cons of Becoming a Personal Support Worker
In addition to the above-mentioned benefits, there are some downsides associated with working as a PSW. Examples of the disadvantages of this profession include:
Physically and Emotionally Draining
Working as a Personal Support Worker can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Your job involves providing patients with the assistance they require in their daily lives, such as grooming, bathing, and getting around. As such, if your patients are experiencing impaired mobility, you may need to lift and transport them, which can be physically demanding. Additionally, you’ll likely develop a rapport with your patients. Given the fact that PSWs primarily work with elderly, disabled, and ill individuals, experiencing the challenges that they may encounter and even potentially losing them can be emotionally draining.
Challenging Work Environment
Another disadvantage that can be associated with working as a PSW is the challenging work environment. It isn’t uncommon for patients who are unable to care for themselves to experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. As a result, they can become frustrated and unfortunately, they can lash out at their caregivers. Furthermore, trying to juggle the needs of your patients, and meeting any demands that they may have, can add to the challenges of this profession.
Possible Exposure to Contagious Illnesses and Diseases
Lastly, working as a PSW, there is a chance that you could be exposed to contagious illnesses and diseases. You’ll be in close contact with your patients on a regular basis, which means that if they are ill with contagious diseases, they could potentially be transmitted to you. Furthermore, if you are working in a hospital, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility, the risk of exposure to contagious illnesses and infectious diseases may be higher. This risk is important to consider, as it could not only jeopardize your health, but you could carry illnesses and diseases home to your loved ones, potentially exposing them, as well.
Is PSW the Right Career Path for You?
If you’re a compassionate individual who enjoys caring for others, you may be considering a career as a Personal Support Worker (PSW). While working as a PSW can certainly offer several benefits, there are some key disadvantages to consider, as well. To determine whether or not this is the right career option for you, carefully consider the above-mentioned pros and cons and how they will impact your overall well-being.