Course Overview

The range of services provided by a PSW is determined by the individual needs of each client and may include assistance with routine activities of living including personal care, mobility, home management, meal preparation, family care, and assisting with social and recreational activities.

As front-line workers, Personal Support Workers must develop a broad range of abilities beyond technical skills. They must provide not only for the comfort, safety, and well-being of their clients, but also demonstrate kindness and respect for those in their care. A positive attitude, solid skills, and a sensitive approach are critical to the well-being and health of the clients.

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Program Breakdown

Graduates will be able to:

  1. Effectively provide care and assistance to clients and families in order to live fulfilling lives in their communities and in institutions.
  2. Care for clients in a sensitive and respectful manner.
  3. Assist with meal preparation, hygiene, bathing, dressing and household tasks.
  4. Provide comfort and peace of mind to clients, as well as much-needed relief and respite to their family members

The introductory module provides an overview of the scope of responsibilities of PSWs in a variety of settings. Students will learn about client-centered versus client-directed care; and emphasizing the individuality of the client and his/her relationship with family, friends, and others. Key topics include work relationships, stress and time management, interpersonal skills and communications, including conflict resolution and problem solving, and applicable legislation.

The second module covers safety as it relates to both the client and the worker. One of the fundamental activities of the PSW is that of assisting the client with routine activities of living. Students will learn about risks of unsafe equipment or settings and appropriate actions to take when unsafe situations are identified. Topics include infection control methods, body mechanics, and transferring and lifting techniques using equipment to increase safety and reduce client anxiety.

This module will introduce the student to the basics of anatomy and physiology. Students will gain an understanding of human body systems in order to apply that knowledge in their daily work as a Personal Support Worker. These body systems are the musculoskeletal, digestive, urinary, integumentary, reproductive, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and endocrine. Common disorders and age-related changes for each body system will also be covered.

PSW’s assist clients with all activities or routines of daily living. Students will learn how to care for the ill, disabled, injured and/or confused client. Frailness, dignity and levels of dependence will be considered. Personal hygiene includes oral care, perineal care, bathing, grooming, dressing, bed making, shaving, hair care, and skin care. It includes mobility considerations and involves personal safety, self-esteem and dignity. The foundation of this module is humanistic health care.

This module introduces students to the concepts of violence and abuse, including its possible signs, and the appropriate actions and legal requirements if abuse is suspected. Personal beliefs and attitudes about family violence and abuse are examined, as is the concept of worker abuse of the client and abuse of the worker. PSW will learn to recognize both indicators and causes, and the requirements of legislation, employer policy, and provisions of the service contract or support plan.

Students will learn to assist the client with their nutritional needs, household activities, and household management according to client preferences, comfort and safety within employer guidelines as required.
Nutritional needs include planning balanced menus, preparing shopping lists and shopping, safe handling of food, and storage and specific cooking techniques. The special dietary needs of certain clients and their cultural and religious preferences will all be addressed.

This module identifies the support provided through the care plan or service contract to the client to relearn or regain routine abilities. They will understand its significance, and the rights of the client as a receiver of support and the purpose, methods, and persons involved in its creation. Students will also be introduced to working in the community health care environment, providing support to patients and families in communities, conducted in accordance with employer guidelines.

Students learn to understand family characteristics in terms of structure, functions, roles, lifestyles and relationships. The influence of cultural values, practices, religious beliefs as well as the effects of illness, stress, and disability on family relationships will be emphasized as central to the PSW’s ability to provide effective support. This module also explores the stages of growth and development throughout the life cycle and the role of the PSW in providing respite to families.

In this module students learn about hospice, palliative and end-of-life care, the integration of a palliative approach to care, ways of being, communication and practical strategies to provide psychosocial support and physical comfort care for both the person and their family. This module addresses provincial palliative care competencies (2018-2020) including competencies for caring for First Nation, Inuit, Metis and urban Indigenous peoples.

Within the PSW scope of practice, students learn about medication administration versus assistance. They gain basic knowledge of the drugs used in the treatment of common diseases and disorders including use, classification, effects, and routes of administration. They identify purposes, required instruction, and cautions; and the importance of observation for both desired and undesired outcomes, as well as the procedures to be followed in the event of a concern or problem with medications.

This module introduces students to common psychiatric conditions such as affective disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, cognitive impairment, and brain injury. The possibility of multiple conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression will be discussed along with the role of the family caregiver and the importance of observation, documentation, and reporting in order to recognize changes in behavior that can be related to psychiatric conditions or an increased risk of suicide.

Students are introduced to ongoing conditions and basic concepts of assistance, as well as the general effects on the person of common disabilities, conditions and diseases. Students will gain skill in the necessary techniques while focusing on the importance of providing support safely, effectively and comfortably. Concepts of maintenance, rehabilitation and restoration are discussed, as is the importance of the support team in providing assistance and training of these additional skills.

Gentle Persuasive Approaches (GPA) is a multi-disciplinary program designed for everyone who interacts with older adults in the workplace. Participants are guided to fully understand responsive behaviors in order to be able to respond effectively and appropriately in a workplace setting.

Clinical placement provides students with an opportunity to practice their new skills in a work setting. Students gain experience in a wider range of PSW skills, become more self-confidant, and may receive offers of employment from the placement site. They spend time working in a facility setting for 100 hours under the supervision of their instructor and under a preceptor provided by the host site for 100 hours. The instructor will be available by phone and email during the placement.

Clinical placement provides students with an opportunity to practice their new skills in a work setting. While on placement, students gain experience in a wider range of PSW skills, become more self-confidant, and may receive offers of employment from the placement site. In this module the students will spend time working in a community setting under the supervision of a preceptor provided by the host site. The instructor will be available by phone and email at all times.