Canadian Healthcare and the Role of Personal Support Workers

Front-line workers who play a critical role in group living, private, and family based settings are called Personal Support Workers. A PSW works in acute care facilities and hospitals.

These healthcare workers also work in community care homes, private homes, and long-term care homes. They provide patients a variety of services based on their conditions and needs. The overall wellness of patients and their day to day function is based in part on their interaction with a PSW.

Personal Support Workers fulfill many roles due to being employed in various private and public sector settings. These individuals are sometimes also referred with other job titles, such as

  • Personal attendants,
  • Health care aids,
  • Home supporters,
  • Visiting homemakers,
  • Respite care worker, and
  • Supportive care assistants.

Every one of these titles is now used to describe a PSW.

The demand for PSW jobs is increasing in the Canadian healthcare industry. This is partially due to the aging population and increased incidents of complex conditions and chronic diseases.

The average age of long-term care residents is about 87.2 years. Many will have a mental disorder, such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

With changing models of healthcare delivery, a patient’s chronic condition is more likely to be managed in a long-term care facility or at home. It is at this point that
PSW’s play a vital role. They help in the management of such chronic diseases.

Serving a dual purpose

The complexity of services that are provided by Personal Support Workers outside the hospital often results in early patient discharge. New advances in medicine and technology now allows patients to live comfortably at home and receive necessary care.

This is also the reason for increases in complex conditions being managed at home. The challenges faced by Canadian healthcare may also be seen as a contributing factor for increasing demand.

Thus PSW’s are serving a dual purpose of helping patient/clients manage their chronic conditions in the comfort of their own homes and also helping the Canadian healthcare system to cut down expenditure.

Much of the work that is provided by a PSW ranges from performing various acts that are under an area of delegation to a variety of basic homemaking tasks.

There are many functional tasks that are performed by PSW’s. This includes Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), personal care and light housekeeping.

Personal care typically includes dressing, bathing, feeding, and toileting. Transferring a patient in and out of bed is also the responsibility of a PSW. Basic tasks often include shopping, menu planning, and meal preparation. Transportation for a patient may also be provided when a doctor’s appointment is necessary.

PSW jobs in hospitals include work in complex continuing care and rehabilitation. These workers are typically referred to as health care aides. Job direction comes from a Registered nurse or a Registered Practical Nurse.

They will typically assist hospital staff, nurses, and physicians. The worker can also receive delegation from an Occupational Therapist (OT) and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

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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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