Abstract: Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are pillars of in-community care and long-term care homes in Ontario. In Canada, the United States, and other industrialized countries, the literature emphasizes the need to facilitate the continued development of programs designed to enhance recruitment and retention of PSWs in both homecare and long-term care homes to meet the increasing demands of an aging population. The workforce is unregulated, yet PSWs are increasingly asked to perform medical tasks (digital stimulation, catheter care, medication reminders, and administration of suppositories), especially in homecare, so they have less time for prevention activities, such as cleaning and social activities. However, wages do not reflect these new tasks. Because immigrants or temporary foreign workers who are not fluent in English or French have difficulty in communicating with those they are caring for, it appears urgent that PSWs and agencies become culturally competent with respect to seniors’ cultures. PSWs under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) are foreign workers with temporary immigration status, which may put them at risk of contract and labour rights violations. In regards to the Ontario legislative and policy context, two new initiatives show promise in standardizing the care provided by PSWs to clients: 1) Since 2010 long-term care facilities are legally required to hire PSWs who meet vocational standards approved by the Ministry of Training Universities and Community Colleges (MTUCs), the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) and the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA); and 2) in 2011 the Government of Ontario announced the creation of an electronic registry for PSWs who provide services and direct care in homes of ill seniors, people with disabilities, or clients with chronic medical problems.
Authors: Sara Torres
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