Personal support workers (PSWs) care for people who are sick, elderly or individuals who need assistance carrying out their daily tasks. As a PSW, you may find yourself working in a long-term care facility, a hospital, or in the home of your patient.
A career as a PSW is very fulfilling. You not only help individuals with their physical illnesses and needs but you also provide mental health support. For example, you may provide comfort to an elderly person experiencing loneliness or dealing with the mental effects of ageing.
One thing is for sure: as a PSW you will need to have patience, be flexible, friendly, and professional. To see if this career is right for you, learn more about these six personal support worker responsibilities:
1. Manage Ongoing Medical Conditions
People who are ill or elderly may have a wide range of ongoing medical conditions that you need to manage on a daily basis. You may be the PSW for someone who is suffering from dementia, various forms of cancer, or someone with mobility issues.
All of these impairments will require you to manage the conditions in different ways. You may need to make sure your patient takes all of their medications, drive them to chemotherapy appointments, move them from their bed to their wheelchair and so on.
As such, it’s imperative that personal support workers take PSW courses online. These courses offer a wide range of skills and can be flexible to accommodate other medical issues as they arise in their patients.
2. Assist with Daily Activities
One of the daily personal support worker responsibilities is to assist with daily activities. As a PSW, you will find yourself assisting your patient with their daily activities, whatever that may entail. This may be helping them use the washroom, take a bath, dress, and get from point A to point B.
Some other duties may include preparing meals and feeding your patient, performing household chores like changing beds and doing laundry, and going grocery shopping.
You will find that your tasks can vary from one day to the next. PSWs have a large job description that changes depending on the patient you are working with.
3. Provide Informal Counselling
As we mentioned above, your responsibilities as a PSW don’t end with physical illness but extend to mental health issues as well. Since the majority of patients will be elderly, its not uncommon that you will be filling a void and helping the patient through feelings of loneliness. This may be especially true if they do not have a lot of family visiting regularly.
If your patient simply needs someone to speak to about their worries, chances are you will be that person. Just lend them a caring ear and listen to what they have to say. They will feel better knowing they have someone always willing to listen.
4. Help Patients Exercise
Another responsibility of a PSW is helping patients exercise. This may mean taking them to appointments with a physiotherapist and helping them do their exercises at home. It could also mean walking with your patient down the hall of their long-term care home.
Although it may look different for different patients, it’s still a very important aspect of the job. This is something that nurses typically don’t have time for, so being able to provide this service to your patient is crucial.
It also works nice as it can be a means to get your patient outside to enjoy some fresh air and vitamin D.
5. Check Vital Signs
Depending on what kind of illness your patient has, you may find that a large part of your responsibilities are checking vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. Chances are you will be doing this multiple times a day. If you work during the night or live with the person you are treating, you may also be checking vitals throughout the night.
If you work in a long-term care home or a hospital, a nurse may ask you to be responsible for this task. You will then need to be sure you are recording the information so that the nurse can see and administer care as needed.
6. Complete and Maintain Related Health Records
In addition to good oral communication skills, you will also need good written communication skills to be a PSW. This is because you will be expected to complete and maintain related health records, especially if you are administering medication or helping your patient with their daily exercise.
The agency, hospital, or individual family you work for will also request various types of documentation. This will depend on where you work, but the concept is pretty much the same.
Do these responsibilities sound like something that interests you? Can you see yourself working as a personal support worker? If so, this fulfilling and versatile career may be right for you.