A Closer Look at a Career as a Personal Support Worker (PSW)
Living independently or without any assistance is something that all adults aspire to, perhaps something that the young ones can’t comprehend until they have come of age. However, in some cases, living alone can be a burden especially if one has medical conditions or physical limitations. This is especially true for some members of the elderly population.
According to Statistics Canada, the elderly proportion of the country’s population have steadily increased in the past 40 years. From 1971 to 2010, the senior population rose from 8% to 14%. It’s predicted that by the year 2036, the senior population can reach as much as 25%.
The senior population is prone to conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, and back conditions, most of which will require a form of assistance. The good news is the elderly population now have more options aside from choosing to live in senior homes where they can acquire support services for their illnesses. They can choose to reside in their own homes and employ personal support workers (PSW) to provide assistance when needed. PSWs are sometimes referred to as personal or home care aides. If this is something you would be interested in as a career, read on for more information.
Personal Support Worker – What You Need to Know
The main responsibility of PSWs is to provide individuals assistance with daily activities, and these may include but not limited to bathing, feeding, dressing, grooming, laundry, and cleaning. In most cases, PSWs also facilitate intake of medicines for the individuals.
PSWs, however, don’t act alone as they collaborate with a medical group or clinical staff to streamline the individual’s treatment plans or daily regimen. PSWs must have an in-depth understanding of the individual’s needs and follow specific instructions from health care professionals regarding medication intake and other related duties. For individuals with chronic or acute conditions, PSWs are also tasked to monitor and keep track of their pulse, temperature, respiration, and others and may need to assist with other tasks like physical therapy, injections, feeding tubes, etc.
PSWs also serve as companions for individuals who need assistance with certain activities, such as when they need to go to the hospitals or clinics for routine check-ups or run errands such as go to the bank or supermarkets.
According to PayScale.com, PSWs can earn $23,203 up to $44,171 a year.
To get started in the profession of PSW, one must first obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent and a grade 12 English credit and then work in getting a PSW certification from an approved educational institution. Most employers also require First Aid & CPR Level C or HCP Certificate. A nursing education is a big plus, as well as additional certifications and credits like senior biology, communications, or health. PSWs can move toward the careers as a Registered Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse.
If you aspire to be a PSW, it’s important to be flexible with your hours as you may need to work different shifts depending on the individual’s needs. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are a must, as well as good judgment, problem-solving, and assessment abilities.
Pros and Cons
Working as a PSW means having the chance to improve the quality of life for individuals. In addition, unlike hospital or clinic settings where you deal with numerous patients daily, you get to direct your focus on one individual, thus you are able to establish rapport and build a trust-based relationship.
Being a PSW though can be physically demanding as you will be often required to lift and do frequent movements when providing assistance, especially when the individual requires physical therapy.