Personal Support Worker Career in Ontario

Personal Support Workers sometimes referred to as PSWs, Health Care Aides or Resident Care Attendants (RCA's) play a vital role in Ontario's health care industry. Working in private homes, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, medical clinics and offices, hospitals, and other similar health care facilities they help provide patients with care and comfort.

Personal support workers are trained to work with other health care professionals to provide a wide range of services for the elderly, physically disabled and the chronically ill, to help them rehabilitate or simply live their lives in the most comfortable manner possible.

If you’re compassionate and would like to make a career out of helping people through work as a PSW, here’s what you need to know about the career.

1.  Are there Jobs for Personal Support Workers in Ontario?

It's increasingly important to have more PSWs as the Baby boom generation ages.  Boomers will have a major impact on Canada's health care system over the next 20 years.  This generation hit retirement age in 2012 and by 2036, Canada's 8.2 million Boomers will consume the most health care services.  Nearly one in four people in Canada will be a senior citizen.

According to the Canadian Home Care Association, demand for home care services has increased across the country by 55 percent over the last five years.  Seniors represent 70 percent of that demand.

In the Toronto area, there are in excess of 11,000 assisting occupations in support of health services.  This number is expected to grow by 3.6 percent over the next four years.  An estimated 57,000 PSWs in Ontario work in the long term care sector, 26,000 work for agencies that provide community and home care and about 7,000 provide care in hospitals.

2.  What are Personal Support Worker Salaries?

Personal support worker salaries will vary depending on the employer and the facility you work in, but according to salary statistics from Ontario, entry level (10th percentile) salary can start at $25,000 a year with a median (50th percentile) salary of $35,000 and a high (90th percentile) salary of $55,000 per year.

3.  What do you learn in Personal Support Worker Courses and Programs?

Personal support worker courses combine practical skills training with the communication, patient care and support techniques that professionals require in an industry that involves caring for the sick.

From a practical standpoint, students study physiology, anatomy and alterations to human mental and physical health, and complement this knowledge with patient care techniques, such as infection control, administering medication, providing personal care, applying mobility techniques such as lifting and transferring clients and much more. Techniques relating to specific patient types, such as those with cognitive disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s or those requiring palliative care, are studied. Conflict management and family communication skills are also part of most college curriculum.  Students will usually also participate in clinical placement to practice their skills and gain valuable first hand experience.

4.  General Personal Support Worker Program Requirements

In Ontario, college personal support worker programs and courses require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, and generally require a grade 12 English credit. Additional recommended or required credits may include senior biology, communications or health.

Ontario Colleges Offering Personal Support Worker Programs

Here is a list of colleges in Ontario that provide Personal Support Worker courses and programs.