Jopson, Lynsay - Personal Support Worker

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[edit] Job Title (Lynsay Jopson)

Personal Support Worker (PSW)

[edit] General Overview

Personal Support Workers play an important role in private, group living and facility-based settings. They work in hospitals and care facilities including long- term care, private homes or community care homes [1]. Interaction with the PSW may affect the clients daily functioning and overall wellness. Personal Support Workers provide very supportive person-centered care which varies across the lifespan and range from individual to family care. When caring for a patient a PSW would assist with personal care including bathing, getting dressed and they would also assist with outside recreational activities [1]. The PSW would take note of the daily activities for each patient and report any changes in the patient’s behaviour.

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

Some jobs and responsibilities of a Personal Support Worker include [2] :

  • Reporting changes in the client’s behaviour to the appropriate member of the healthcare team
  • Assisting in complete personal care which would involve helping with toileting, bathing and perineal care
  • Assisting the individual with eating, dressing and grooming
  • Cleaning or sterilizing equipment
  • Serving meals
  • Assisting clients with outside recreational activities
  • Patient watch for patients in clinical care setting
  • Documentation of Activities of Daily Living

[edit] Typical Workday

A Personal Support worker, the individual has to be flexible when it comes to the hours of work. The shifts can occur during days, evenings, nights and weekends. Also depending on the type of PSW the individual is they may be on call at all times. [3] The type of clients or patients that the individual would be working with will depend on the type of PSW they are, long-term care, community care, hospitals or private care. If the individual is working in hospital settings or with a private client, they may need to try and accommodate the family as well as making sure the client’s needs are taken care of. Depending on whether the PSW has more than one client/patient booked for one day, they may have to plan their day strategically to allow themselves enough time to arrive where they need to be in an orderly fashion. Depending on whether the PSW is working with a patient who is in long-term or short-term care, the job duties for them can vary. If it is a short-term care the PSW may just help with small things such as preparing medication, helping them with dressing and bathing. [4] Whereas if they are working with patients who are long-term they may do a little more work around the house such as laundry, dishes and making their beds. [4] The PSW may spend more quality time with the patient if they do not have a strong family/friend support system.

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

If interested in applying to a college PSW program there are some high school requirements. Some schools require more classes than others, but requirements are generally similar. It is important to double check the required courses. The high school courses that are needed include [5] & [6] & [7] :

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma or Equivalent (Mature student status)
  • English: Any grade 12 (college or university) or an equivalent
  • Mathematics: Any grade 11 (college or university) or an equivalent
  • Biology- grade 11 (college or university)

In addition to admission requirements, many schools have specific program requirements that include [5] & [6] & [7] :

  • Criminal Screening/ Criminal Reference Check
  • Police Check for Vulnerable Sector Screening, completed annually
  • Completed immunization records
  • Standard First Aid and CPR
  • Communicable Disease Surveillance form
  • Responsible for own transportation to complete their field placement requirements

Once the certificate/diploma has been achieved, many employers look for previous experience with working with the type of individuals that you are looking to work with. It would be beneficial to obtain some volunteer hours in the area of interest. In Ontario, a PSW must complete a program that meets one of the following three- educational standards [8]

  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities PSW vocational standard
  • National Association of Career Colleges standards
  • Ontario Community Support Associations standards

Where as in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia along with other provinces have standardized PSW programs that have a set number of hours needed between the classroom and lab/practicum [8]. The National Associations program is starting at the national level to promote standardization of a PSW curriculum. The international program includes approximately 100hours, 800 of study and 200 of internship [8]

Some schools that offer courses to obtain a Personal Support Worker certificate include:

[edit] Related Skills, Interest, Abilities

Employers look for efficient communication and written abilities in prospective employees [7] . The employers want you to be able to verbally communicate well with the clientele along with being able to clearly summarize the tasks that you have completed for specific patients/clients at the end of your shift. Being energetic would be a valuable skill. Having the ability to keep the mood light and happy while working with individuals could change the outlook of their day. Depending on the type of individuals being worked with, having a good deal of patience could become a virtue. There is the possibility that the clients/patients may not be as cooperative as you would hope them to be. Some employers also look to see if you are able to cook or prepare snacks/meals for the patients/clients.

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate Degree

Having a psychology undergraduate degree has some benefits to working as a personal support worker. Some courses that have the potential to give the worker an advantage. If the PSW works with patients who are of an older age, a course on Psychology of Aging would be helpful. This courses gives you an overview of the issues that may arise during late adulthood, along with how physiological, social and cognitive factors play a role in how these older adults cope with difficult tasks [9] . If the individual is working with a cliental group that needs support in areas of well-being and functioning, a course on Positive psychology would increase the knowledge of positive experiences. This course has the possibility to be incorporated with encouraging the cliental group to view their life in a positive way, and to update their understanding of information about optimal human functioning [9] . Health psychology would be an optimal course to take if the individual was working with patients who are wanting to increase their health and fight through their illnesses [9]. This course looks at how behaviours, social contexts and attitudes have the ability to influence our psychological processes and our overall health.

Some courses that are available at Niagara College that would be beneficial for potential students would be Supportive Care. In this course the student would learn about providing and planning to give the families and clients the best support [6] . When interacting with clients and their families it will be important for the PSW to be able to communicate what is being documented and how to document what they have been told. Communication in Healthcare would be beneficial to improve necessary written communication through reviewing grammar, writing mechanics and organization of documents [6].

[edit] Salary Potential

In Toronto a PSW earns an average wage of $14.72 per hour. Pay rate for this job does not generally change once experience is gained. Individuals who have a significant amount of experience only earn a bit more than those who do not have much. The hourly rate can range from $11.69-19.14 with overtime starting at $0.49- 28.21 [10] . At the end of the year a PSW can earn anywhere from $24,153- 40,524. The national average of yearly salary is $31, 441.

The pay scale has the potential to differ depending on the location the individual is working in. Though if working in Ottawa 2% increase, Guelph 2% increase, London is 0%, Hamilton is 1% decrease, Toronto 2% decrease and Kitchener is a 4% decrease from the average pay scale [11] .

[edit] Job Outlook

Across the country PSW are in high demand due to the increasingly aging population and this is set to continue [2] . Employment for PSW is suggested to increase by approximately 51% over the next couple years until the year 2020 [12].

[edit] To Know More

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Health Professions. (2015). The Regulation of Personal Support Workers, What is a Personal Support Worker? Retrieved on February 11, 2015 from
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Academy of Health and Business,(2015) Personal Support Worker Jobs. Retrieved on February 10, 2015 from
  3. Online Personal Support Worker Resource Centre (2013) Personal Support Worker Job Description. Retrieved on February 8, 2015 from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Government Canada (2015). Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations. Retrieved on March 21, 2015 from
  5. 5.0 5.1 Conestoga (2015) Personal Support Worker. Retrieved on February 11, 2015 from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Niagara College, (2015). Personal Support Worker. Retrieved on February 11, 2015 from
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Sheridan College (2015). Personal Support Worker. Retrieved on February 11, 2015 from
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 CUPE Research (2012). Submission regarding Personal Support Worker Educational standards in Ontario. Retrieved on March 21, 2015 from
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Brock Undergraduate Calendar, 2014-2015, (2014). Psychology. Retrieved on February 10, 2015 from,
  10. PayScale Human Capital (2014). Personal Support Worker Salary in Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved on February 8, 2015 from
  11. PayScale Human Capital (2015). Personal Support Worker Salary in Canada, Pay Difference by Location. Retrieved on February 8, 2015 from
  12. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012). Personal Support Worker Job Outlook. Retrieved on March 21, 2015 from
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