Personal Support Workers (PSWs) play an essential role in Ontario’s healthcare system. While they’re sometimes employed in hospitals, where they can help nurses manage the personal care needs of elderly patients, they’re more commonly employed in long-term care facilities and private homes, where they tend to the needs of elderly clients.
PSWs perform for their clients the tasks which they are no longer cognitively or physically able to do themselves. Their spectrum of work is quite broad, then, as the needs of their clients can be incredibly varied. PSWs assist their clients with their personal hygiene, including bathing and dressing. They help clients with mobility issues get around, or out of, the house. They plan menus, shop and cook for their clients. They might even measure the blood pressure or temperature of their clients or help them track their medications. The exact tasks always depend on the client, but in every case, the work performed is essential in maintaining that client’s health and quality of life.
Ontario has been suffering from a major shortage of skilled PSWs, with demand for trained professionals significantly outpacing supply. Here’s what anyone considering entering a healthcare program should know about the PSW shortage.
Canada’s Aging Population is in Need of PSWs
Canada is home to a rapidly aging population. According to Statistics Canada, projections showed seniors outnumbering children for the first time in 2017.
This trend is hardly new, but it is accelerating. Between 1960 and 2009, seniors went from 8% of the population to 14%. Looking forward, Statistics Canada says that figure is expected to reach between 23% and 25% by 2036, as Canada’s large cohort of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1960) grow old. According to the 2011 census, this generation made up 29% of the population, and the youngest of them will be turning 65 in 2031.
The Shortage of PSWs Has Had an Impact on Those Who Require Home Care
With this growing population of elderly Canadians requiring personal care and support in both home-living situations and at group-care facilities, there has been a serious strain on the demand for personal support workers in Ontario. Across the province, home care agencies have been struggling to find enough trained PSWs to fill their vacancies, with the problem even more pronounced in rural areas.
For many of those requiring care and support from professionals trained in PSW courses, this means longer wait times and an inability to find individuals to provide the hours of home care they need.
PSW Courses Can Provide You with the Skills to Address this Shortage
For anyone considering a healthcare program, PSW training is an excellent option if you’re looking to quickly gain hands-on experience and enter a field with high demand.
Training can be completed in less than a year, providing students with all of the knowledge they need to enter the field. Work placements in the community and in long-term care facilities can also provide students with valuable, hands-on experience in real-world settings, as well as connections with potential employers.
Being a personal support worker is a position well-suited to those who are caring and passionate about helping others, who are looking to transition into a new career quickly, and who are eager to learn the valuable skills required to assist elderly and infirm clients.
Are you interested in a career as a personal support worker?
Contact Willis College for more information about our Personal Support Worker diploma.