What is a PSW?
Personal Support Workers (PSWs) play a vital role in the care of patients of all ages and abilities. They work closely with those in their care to improve their quality of life and support their care plans.
According to the Personal Support Network of Ontario, the type of tasks a PSW will engage in depends on the setting. In a long term care home environment, PSWs will often be responsible for dressing, hygiene and toileting, and the lifting and repositioning of patients.
If a PSW is in a home environment, they may expand their tasks to activities like companionship bathing, cleaning, meal preparation, laundry and medication reminders. These tasks are referred to as “Activities of Daily Living”, or ‘ADLs’.
PSWs may work during the day or overnight, depending on their position.
PSWs must be mature, respectful, diligent and supportive individuals, as they work so closely with patients who often require a great deal of assistance!
- The salary for PSWs depends on the employer and setting.
- It ranges from approximately $12.50 per hour to approximately $23 per hour.
- On April 30, 2014 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced an increase in the minimum wage for publicly-funded PSWs that will lead up to $16.50 by April 2016, with the new minimum wage being $14 effective April 1, 2014.
Schooling Entry Requirements
Requirements vary by course, but all programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, including grade 12 English. Some programs also require math and/or biology at the grade 11 or grade 12 level.
Many schools also offer pathways for mature students (generally 19+) through assessments and preparatory courses.
PSW training in Ontario is done through a certificate program, not a diploma. PSW programs are offered at nearly every public college in Ontario. Most full-time programs are 1 year or less in length, and some schools offer part-time and distance learning options. Programs often have a placement component.
Many institutions also offer bridging programs into nursing after you have completed your PSW certificate and worked in the field.
There are many places you can access a PSW education:
- Public college
- Private career college (more costly)
- Adult learning centres (through your local school board)
- Some work-training options
Applicants for PSW will be required to pass a Police Records Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector (PRCSVS); Up to date immunization; Valid first Aid & CPR certificates.
It is also important to note that as a PSW, you might be working in a home environment, which means you will need to transport yourself to a work location that can change frequently.
PSWs are not a regulated profession and therefore do not have a certification body.
PSWs can choose to voluntarily join organizations such as the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (https://www.ontariopswassociation.com/).