Personal Support Workers or PSWs are front line staff for organizations offering senior homecare and other health care services. They often deal directly with clients and their families on a day-to-day basis. That is why it is important that you know a bit about the role of the individuals who will deliver the care that your loved ones needs.
According to Personal Support Worker HQ, a PSW is someone who does for a person the things that the person would have normally done for themselves if they were physically and/or cognitively able to do so.
Although most often referred to as Personal Support Workers, different agencies address PSWs in different ways. They are also called the following depending on the organization and their service specialties:
- Health Care Aids,
- Visiting Homemakers,
- Personal Attendants,
- Patient Services Associates,
- Home Support Workers,
- Palliative Care Workers,
- …and Supportive Care Assistants.
Roles of Personal Support Workers
Giving supportive care is the main role of personal support workers. PSWs usually follow the policies, rules and regulation of their hiring agency when it comes to their roles and duties. However, there are some general guidelines to this position.
In general, the role of a personal support worker usually includes general housekeeping, meal preparation, assisting with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, personal grooming and hygiene, medication management, and companionship.
Those who are qualified or certified to do so can be more involved in managing the treatment plan prescribed by physicians and other health care professionals. For example, if a personal support worker is qualified to monitor exercises prescribed by a therapist, that role may be added to the duties and responsibilities of that personal support worker.
PSWs are there to improve the quality of life of a client and their families. They are valuable members of a team that aims to promote well-being, safety, independence, comfort, and mobility. A personal support worker works closely with the client, and is in a position to monitoring and observe the client for any changes in health and in behavior.
Each client requires individualized care depending on what they need. In a home care setting, it is the responsibility of the PSW to assist in the following areas:
- General housekeeping and home management. This will include shopping (either for personal items or grocery), house cleaning, and meal preparation.
- Activities of daily living
- Support daily routines and provide companionship
- Support client to engage in social and recreational activities
Aside from the above-mentioned basic responsibilities of a personal care worker, they are also expected to:
- Optimize the independence of their client by encouraging them to participate in daily activities.
- Follow client’s preferences on what type of care they need.
- Respond efficiently to emergencies such as fire, earthquake and other natural disasters.
- Know how to administer first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
In-home personal support workers are also accountable for the following:
- Delivering care and services based on what was negotiated between the agency and the client.
- Adhering to the mission, vision, principles, and values of agency they represent.
- Providing service and care to the best of their abilities and the training that a personal support worker receives.
- Being aware of the rules and regulations that may affect their position as a personal support worker.
- Observe, monitor, and report improvements or deterioration to other health care professional involved in managing the care of the client.
- If the personal care worker is qualified, he or she needs to implement treatment instructions given by other health professionals such as doctors and therapists.
- Resolve conflicts directly with the client or other member of the family if needed.
- Refer conflicts to other members of the health care team if it will affect the treatment plan of the client.
AND IF YOU’VE DECIDED TO HIRE A PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER: Always remember that it’s important to find someone who is qualified and certified to take on the role. Hiring a highly skilled PSW can change the game in an instant. It is important to get someone with the following skills:
Good Communication Skills that include both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Personal support workers must know how to read the client’s body language and facial expressions.
A personal support worker who has Excellent Interpersonal Skills knows how to adjust in order to get along well with the client and their family. They must also give preference to what the client needs. A good PSW must learn how to respect the client’s authority and judgment up to the scope of their responsibilities.
Training and Knowledge on how the human body functions is a good foundation for a personal support worker. However, they must also have some knowledge about different diseases (Alzheimer, dementia, cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, etc) that can affect the quality of life of a client. PSWs need to have knowledge about the different modalities that they can use to assist clients in activities of daily living and mobility such as canes, wheelchair or other adaptive devices.
There is no overall governing body in Ontario that specifies the roles of a Personal Support Worker. Their specific roles are often dependent on the following factors: type of facility a client is using, client care requirements, and procedures and guidelines of the facility.
Type of Facility a Client is Using
There are a number of different facilities such as private homes, long-term care homes, retirement homes, and clinical care settings. Each facility offers different types of care plans and services, and the role of the PSW in each setting is dependent on the policies of the organization or facility.
Client Care Requirements
Another major factor that will affect the role of a PSW is the care requirement of the client. If a client requires only basic care, assistance with activities of daily living, grooming and personal hygiene; providing these services would be the role of a personal support worker for that client.
Procedures and Guidelines of the Facility
Each agency or facility has its own set of guidelines and policies that a personal care worker must adhere to. For example, if a personal care worker is responsible for medication management, a clear policy needs to be set to determine if the personal support worker can administer certain medications. In some settings, PSWs can even be certified to perform such procedures as gastric tube feedings or administration of enemas.
Most often than not, the role that is going to be assigned to a personal care worker will depend on the training they have undergone as well as their practical experience.
Just as with any other profession, experience plays a big part when it comes to the types of tasks that are going to be assigned to a Personal Support Worker. More experienced personal support workers are likely to be assigned to more complex client cases where the client requires a more detailed care plan and complex treatment management.
Let us help you look for the right professional personal support worker for your family. You can call us at 647-499-4409 for more details.