3 Qualities Necessary to Become a Personal Support Worker
Last year, the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association told the Ottawa Citizen that there was a shortage of personal support workers (PSWs) in Ontario. In fact, other organizations have also noted an increasing need for people to fill this role. Whether in a care facility, within a community organization, or doing at-home work, PSWs are an integral part of the healthcare system.
PSW jobs are difficult but rewarding. They involve working with a large variety of people with all kinds of needs, daily routines, and challenges. Two of the most important things for a PSW to have are training and qualifications, but there are also qualities that are necessary to cultivate if you are working toward a career as a PSW.
1. Flexible in the Face of Changes and Challenges
When you become a personal support worker you will not be able to predict all the situations that you might face each day. Also, the support needed and the care you will provide will differ from client-to-client. A client with dementia, for example, will have very different needs from a client who has mobility issues. What is required of you might even change depending on a client’s mood and the kind of day they are having. The best way to prepare for this is to embrace flexibility and be ready for whatever challenges you might face.
2. Patience With Clients and Yourself
As you may encounter in your clinical placement during your personal support worker college program, some clients face extremely difficult circumstances. They may be injured or have long-term conditions that make their need for a PSW permanent. It is critical to have patience, which will show that you are sensitive to a client’s needs. For example, they may have a condition which causes memory loss and you must be able to kindly remind them of whatever it is they are forgetting without causing any undue stress.
You may also be called upon to help a client physically move around. While this requires strength, it also requires patience. If this is a frustrating activity for a client, your patience will help keep them calm and likely have a positive effect. This may be difficult, which is why patience with yourself will be important, too, as you learn and grow.
3. Compassion: An Unofficial Requirement for Those in PSW Classes
This quality is foundational. Without compassion it may be difficult to maintain any of the other qualities you need to succeed as a PSW. The desire to help people and care for those in need may be one of the reasons why you chose to enter this field in the first place.
A PSW must be conscious of clients’ feelings and want to validate them through care. Compassion shows a client you have respect for them and their situation. It is also a quality you’ll need to offer towards client families as well as co-workers, who may also feel stressed. Your compassion will instil genuine trust in you and your work. Beyond that, your capacity to be aware of what others are feeling will make patience, flexibility, motivation, and collaboration easier to maintain.
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