3 Reasons to Become a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Ontario
What if there was a field of work that is constantly in demand? What if you could be in the dream job, knowing your skills are valued? The healthcare field is growing with our aging population and the need for Personal Support Workers in Ontario is booming! Here are 3 reasons that could be right for you to become a PSW:
- Help the community. As a PSW, you play the part of restoring a person’s dignity, happiness and health. Families look for trust in compassionate PSWs to take the role of supporting their loved ones at home. While your role includes helping people with taking medication, assisted daily living, companionship and light housekeeping, you can make a difference!
- In-demand profession. “The shortage is not going to be fixed in one year. This is going to take several years and … the baby boomers are just starting to come into long-term care … There’s going to be shortages for a minimum of the next 20 years.” As reported in the Daily Press, this shortage will take years to fill. Besides this, almost half of all PSWs are 50 to 59-years-old, and will be retiring soon (CRNCC & PSNO, 2009). This means your decision to enter the PSW field is one that will continue to grow over the years.
- You won’t waste time as a PSW. University degrees take 4-years to complete, with the job search pressure after you graduate. Fortunately, a Personal Support Worker programs in Ontario only takes a few short months through one of the options below. As a result, you can jump into becoming a self-employed PSW upon graduation.
How do I begin?
To become a certified Personal Support Worker in Ontario requires the following steps:
- A Provincial Theory Evaluation Exam. This exam is to evaluate critical thinking and aptitude necessary to carry out the scope of work.
- Skills Assessment Exam.
- Adherence to Professional Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice.
- Vulnerable Sector Screening Check
- First-aid and CPR certification
- Health Status, Up-to-date Vaccinations or Hep B Vaccination
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Personal Support Workers in Ontario are in a position of trust or authority over children or vulnerable persons. Being in a position of trust or authority is more than just having contact with children or vulnerable persons. To meet the legal requirements for a vulnerable sector check, the nature of the position – not the person – must cause the person to have authority over, or trust of, children or vulnerable persons. In most cases, the PSW program requests a VSC prior to starting the practical portion of the curriculum.
How long is the Personal Support Worker program?
While the PSW course is a minimum of 600 hours in length, it does include practical work experience. However, to work in Long-Term-Care, you need a curriculum that includes a 600 hour minimum.
The PSW training program includes a minimum of:
342 hours of theory (classroom)
10 hours of evaluation
280 hours of practicum (work placement)
The training institution will issue the PSW Certificates. However, the province does not recognize a PSW Diploma, as the training program is too short to meet a diploma requirement.
All training bodies teaching PSWs base their programs on the same curriculum.
- Boards of Education (through their adult education divisions)
- Ontario Community Colleges;
- Registered Private Colleges (under Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
- Private Career College Search Service)
The PersonalSupportWorker site has additional resources to continue your research.
The Long Term Care Homes Act, 2007 states the following for PSWs:
Qualifications of personal support workers
- (1) Every licensee of a long-term care home shall ensure that on and after the first anniversary of the coming into force of this section, every person hired by the licensee as a personal support worker or to provide personal support services, regardless of title, has successfully completed a personal support worker program that meets the requirements in subsection (2).
(2) The personal support worker program,
(a) must meet,
(i) the vocational standards established by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities,
(ii) the standards established by the National Association of Career Colleges, or
(iii) the standards established by the Ontario Community Support Association; and
(b) must be a minimum of 600 hours in duration, counting both class time and practical experience time.
(3) Despite subsection (1), a licensee may hire as a personal support worker or to provide personal support services,
(a) a registered nurse or registered practical nurse who, in the opinion of the Director of Nursing and Personal Care, has adequate skills and knowledge to perform the duties of a personal support worker;
(b) a person who was working or employed at a long-term care home at any time in the 12-month period preceding the first anniversary of the coming into force of this section as a personal support worker and who has at least three years of full-time experience, or the equivalent considering part-time experience, as a personal support worker;
(c) a student who is enrolled in an educational program for registered nurses or registered practical nurses and who, in the opinion of the Director of Nursing and Personal Care, has adequate skills and knowledge to perform the duties of a personal support worker; or
(d) a person who is enrolled in a program described in subsection (2) and who is completing the practical experience requirements of the program, but such a person must work under the supervision of a member of the registered nursing staff and an instructor from the program.
(4) The licensee shall cease to employ as a personal support worker, or as someone who provides personal support services, regardless of title, a person who was required to be enrolled in a program described in clause (3) (c) or (d) if the person ceases to be enrolled in the program or fails to successfully complete the program within five years of being hired.