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What is Personal Support Worker? 

Personal Support Worker (PSW) provides supportive personal care for individuals and families  at various levels of health and wellbeing. PSWs work in a variety of healthcare environments including long-term care centre, retirement home, private home, life-support facility, hospital and many other healthcare settings. 

Unlike nurses, PSWs are primarily required to perform tasks for patients that are direct, front-line and hands-on. PSWs help clients deal with problems in everyday lives including personal hygiene, meals, and medications; they provide personal assistance to the elderly, the disabled, or those who are dealing with different kinds of impairments. If you love helping others and often wish you could “make a difference” in others’ lives, you can make your dreams come true by becoming a PSW. As a personal support worker, you not only assist your clients in their everyday lives, you also become a person that they truly trust and rely on; you make a great impact on restoring your clients’ happiness, health and dignity.

What does a PSW do? 

PSW’s job duties may vary depending on the types of settings they work in, whether it’s a private home, a long-term care facility, a community care centre, or a hospital. However, according to the PSW recourse centre , there are some common duties that every PSW must fulfill:

  • Following the care plan, observing and reporting any substantial findings and/or changes in patient/resident/client’s behaviour 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 them2 (only if they are trained to perform the delegated task)
  • Assisting with ambulation, positioning and transferring using mechanical lifts such as a Hoyer lift.3
  • Assisting or providing total personal care such as toileting, bathing and perineal care.2
  • Assisting with eating, dressing and grooming.2
  • 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 Nurse3, Resource Nurse or Manager.
  • Self actualization by helping patient/resident/client to reach maximum potential.

How do I become a PSW?

Postsecondary education isn’t required for personal support workers; it is not required to have an associate or graduate degree in this field to gain employment opportunities. Vocational school trainings or diplomas are sufficient for this occupation and most employers provide on-the-job training. In many cases, on-the-job training provided by supervising nurses or experienced social workers is sufficient for many personal support workers. 

At Academy of Learning Career College, our Personal Support Worker program is designed to standardize training and provide a solid educational base for workers who provide long-term care and support services to individuals in both institutional and community settings. 

How much does PWS get paid?

A PSW’s salary may vary depending on numerous variables, including experience levels, the location and facility they work in, as well as additional skills they may obtain that increases the quality of the service they provide. According to PayScale Canada, the average pay for a Personal Support Worker (PSW) is C$15.40 per hour, and the national yearly salary ranges from $25,183 to $42,148. Pay for this job does not change much by experience, and most people move on to other jobs if they have more than 20 years’ experience in this field. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Long Term Care and Disability Support. Continued education also plays a major role in determining the salary of a PSW.

Job outlook for PSWs

Due to baby boomers approaching retirement and Canadian population aging at a very fast rate, high demand and strong employment growth appears in the field of Personal Support Worker in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, over the five year period of 2007 to 2011, there has been a gradual increase in the number of healthcare jobs, especially PSW Jobs, related to occupations in support of health services.

Personal Support Workers are going to be in high demand over the coming years according to the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS). It is also predicted that at least until 2020, there is going to be a shortage of workers in this occupation due to the replacement demand resulting from the retirement of current healthcare workers, and the expansion demand resulting from Canada’s aging population.

As the largest career college in Canada, Academy of Learning has been changing lives since 1987. Browse our program listing by province and discover the best Healthcare Program for you!