But for many seniors, their PSW becomes their best and closest support person.
One of the major contributing factors to the poor conditions typically found within Long Term Care has been the shortage of Personal Support Workers. Simply not enough qualified hands to do the needed and necessary work of looking after and caring for frail seniors. This was a problem before Covid and sadly it took many deaths before the government started listening.
The Ford government has promised to invest more than $115 million to train Personal Support Workers (PSW’s). The Ontario Newsroom Release (Feb 24, 2021) says 8200 new PSWs will be ready to work in LTC by Fall 2021.
An ‘accelerated PSW training program’ will provide a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students. The program will take 6 months to complete rather than the typical 8 months. This new program will provide 3 months in the classroom and 3 months of paid, on the job training. Tuition assistance (up to $2,000) is also available for those who are close to finishing an existing PSW program in an Ontario college.
Personal Support Workers are not licensed or regulated by a professional, governmental or regulatory body. Unlike their regulated partners, they do not have a standard code of ethics, disciplinary procedures or practice standards.
Although both regulated and unregulated health professionals can work in the community, hospitals and long term care settings, the regulated fields often have a more defined scope of practice. Personal Support Workers fall within the unregulated bracket and as such their job description, role identification and scope or practice varies greatly depending on the health care setting.
In Ontario a PSW Registry was created in 2018. The goal of the Registry is to verify education and training and a provide a code of conduct. There is also a formal complaints process. Registration is however optional.
There is a great demand for trained Personal Support Workers in our community and especially for those who are linguistically able to serve our multi cultural community. There will continue to be job opportunities however it is one field that is still sorely underpaid and certainly under appreciated.
PS. Happy March 1- let’s hope the worse is behind us……