What does a personal support worker do?
A personal support worker (PSW) gives direct care to residents living in long-term care. A PSW helps residents with physical needs such as personal care (bathing, dressing, etc.), as well as getting around the home.
PSWs add to the quality of life of residents and give emotional support and friendship. PSWs are an important part of a resident’s health-care team because they know their residents well and can report any behaviour or clinical changes.
This page is part of our Careers in Long-Term Care Initiative.
Various clips used in this video were filmed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection control practices (such as wearing a mask) may be shown.
What skills will I use?
- Interpersonal communication
- Active listening
- Teamwork and collaboration
How do I become a PSW?
You need a PSW certificate to work as a PSW in Ontario. You can gain a certificate through on-the-job training or a formal college program. Formal programs take six months to one year and give both in-class teaching and practical experience.
The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework, and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. Registration for the program will be available through the Ontario College Application Service and is expected to open in early March.
PSWs can fill many roles and have many opportunities to grow. In some LTC homes, PSWs can be promoted to leaders and neighbourhood coordinators. There is room to advance with more education too! Practical nursing bridge programs help those who want to work toward a Nursing Diploma while working as a PSW.
Personal Support Worker (PSW)
PSWs do the daily care for residents in one home area, including meals, mobility, and personal care. They use a person-centred approach to help residents with everyday needs. PSWs make the lives of residents better by helping them to live with comfort, safety and dignity.
Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)
RPNs oversee the care of LTC residents in one home area. They may give medications, treat wounds, assess falls, and take care of the clinical parts of admitting residents into LTC homes. RPNs also supervise a team of other roles, such as PSWs giving care to their home area.
Registered Nurse (RN)
RNs oversee the care to residents in an entire LTC home. They may also share the clinical care tasks that RPNs do. RNs tend to be involved in coaching, mentoring and education of other team members. RNs are clinical leaders in testing, care planning, carrying out care and measuring what’s working or not for all residents in an LTC home.