What is the best Personal Support Worker (PSW) program in Ontario?

Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Ontario are front-line health care workers who provide personal support services to patients, residents and clients in a variety of care settings, such as hospitals, long-term care homes, community-based care settings or in their homes.  

With the demands of an aging population and rising costs in health care, the Province of Ontario is implementing strategies to increase support for at-home health care.  PSWs and individuals providing personal support services play an integral role in Ontario’s plan to improve health care by providing quality at-home care for our most vulnerable populations.  PSWs work with those individuals who have a broad spectrum of care needs and health conditions.

Personal Support Services can include a wide variety of duties and responsibilities such as:

Activities Related to Daily Living

  • Perform personal care such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting and transferring and walking a patient.

Clinical Care Services

  • Assisting a client with personal care activities such as measuring blood pressure, temperature or pulse and taking specimens.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

  • Assisting with homemaking activities such as menu planning, shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping and transportation.

Individuals who provide personal support services can hold different titles, including:

  • Personal Support Worker
  • PSW
  • Health Care Aide
  • Personal Attendant
  • Personal Care attendant
  • Residential Support Worker
  • Respite Worker
  • Home Support Worker
  • Hospital Attendant
  • Live-in Care Giver
  • Nurse’s Aide
  • Personal Aide
  • Visiting Homemaker
  • Residential Home Care Aide
  • Palliative Care Worker
  • Supportive Care Assistant

Every year, more than 7,000 new Personal Support Workers graduate from colleges offering PSW programs in Ontario. The quality of these programs and their respective colleges can vary widely.  Enrolment in a recognized Ontario PSW program by a respected provider offers students the training necessary for providing services to the elderly, disabled and ill for rehabilitation purposes, or so that they can continue to live as independently and comfortably as possible. 

If you’re interested in becoming a PSW in Ontario, recognized Personal Support Worker (PSW) training is offered by the following:

Program Accreditation for Personal Support Worker (PSW) programs

To help judge the quality of PSW program and Personal Support Worker (PSW) program providers, students need a way to assess and judge PSW training programs, which program will provide the best return on their investment and which college can they trust will help them begin their career.  Employers also need a way to determine the type and quality of program a perspective employee has taken.

The PSW Educational Program Accreditation process responds to this growing demand by providing formal recognition to schools and colleges that meet the rigorous accreditation standards that are based on the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care PSW Program Standards in Ontario.  Accreditation will not only validate PSW training programs’ compliance, but also earn programs the respect and recognition of students, potential students, employers, and the community at large.  The PSW Educational Program Accreditation process was developed with input from employers, trainers, PSWs, program managers, government, and other stakeholders, who made sure the process focused on the things that ultimately really matter.  Read more about the PSW Educational Program Accreditation process.

Personal Support Workers (PSWs) satisfy a very demanding role in Ontario.  Without their skill, compassion and dedication, a great number of people in Ontario would be unable to lead normal and independent lives.  

While the job of a Personal Support Worker is rewarding, it can be challenging as well.  The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association (OPSWA) is a valuable resource for gaining up to date information and the kind of assistance and encouragement that can only come from others who understand the unique circumstances that come with this career path.  Visit their website at The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association (OPSWA).

In 2011, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced the creation of a Registry of personal support workers (PSWs) to acknowledge the care they provide daily to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable populations, including seniors and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

In 2012, the Ontario PSW Registry was officially launched and now has over 30,000 registered PSWs and continues to grow.*  

*Update:  The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has ended its funding for the Ontario PSW Registry. For further information please visit the Ontario PSW Registry.