May 19 marked Personal Support Worker Day, a day to shed light on the important but often unsung work of PSWs, both locally and across the province. Several stakeholders in the PSW field have begun a PSW Champions campaign to spread the word on just how important PSWs are in the healthcare community. The campaign is complete with its own YouTube channel, with several videos posted which aim to shed light on healthcare’s unsung heroes.
Local resident, Tina Ouellette, wants to make sure that PSWs in our region get a fair share of the recognition.
“We all know what nurses do, DSWs, Social Workers,” said Tina. “We know they have forces behind them fighting for fair compensation for their time, skill, experience, and dedication. The PSW workers in our lives are less understood, less formally organized, and this puts them at a disadvantage.”
Tina argues, as do many others on social media, that many tasks commonly performed by PSWs are the same, or similar, to those performed by nurses and nurse’s aids, which are positions that receive far greater recognition, and come with more equitable pay and benefits.
“They deserve to have fair compensation for the work they are doing,” said Tina, referring to PSWs. “They’re driving their vehicles all over the county. They’re going into unpredictable homes, sometimes privately, caring for people who need so much more than a sponge bath and hot meal, but dignity and dire assistance for their serious medical needs.”
Tina also talked about current well-known issues with the long term care situation. “If your folks are anything like mine, they want to grow old and spend their final few months of life comfortably in their own homes,” she said. “In order to make that happen, as opposed to being destined for an overburdened long-term care facility, the answer is PSWs. People are opting for long waitlists to get into long term care, because there aren’t enough PSWs to go around.”
PSWs provide assistance with life tasks for those with limited ability to perform such tasks on their own. These tasks can include preparing meals and feeding, bathing, dressing, helping with exercise, and much more. Many PSWs work in hospitals and long term care homes, while others are employed with agencies that provide home visits. Having a PSW available is often a necessary condition if a medical patient or elderly individual is going to be able to remain in their own home. Compared to those in related professions, such as nursing, many argue that PSW’s are not well-compensated.
Tina is calling on members of the public to contact their government representatives and ask some tough questions.
“Ask them what they are doing to make sure we have enough PSWs to meet our present and future needs,” she said. “What is being done to ensure they aren’t finding their way to careers with better incentives? We desperately need to care for our caregivers now, so we can all thrive later.”
The PSW Champions YouTube channel can be found at www.youtube.com/channel/UCjQvjBo2P80HG5hpQCFKxLA.