Personal Support Workforce in the North East

Relevant Links

Steering Committee
Action Plan

What is a Personal Support Worker?

A Personal Support Worker (PSW) is a front-line health care worker who helps people with daily tasks such as getting dressed, eating, doing exercises, getting around, and other things that help patients recover or live comfortably. Some PSWs work in hospitals or long-term care homes, but in the home and community care sector, PSWs help people where they live — in their homes.  

Why Become a PSW?

  • Fulfilling work – As a PSW you are making a difference in people’s lives whether you are helping to maintain their independence living at home or improving their quality of life in long term care or hospital. PSWs provide meaningful, compassionate care to their clients who range in age from young children to seniors.
  • Job security – there is a shortage of PSWs in the North East region and in Ontario as a whole. As our population ages, PSWs will continue to be in demand
  • Flexible hours – Many personal support jobs, particularly in home and community care, offer flexibility in terms of work hours.
  • Short training – Certification ranges between four months to one year. Some employers also offer training or to pay for training.
  • Opportunities to specialize – PSWs are always learning on the job and there are many opportunities to specialize and train to serve special client groups such as people with blindness or visual impairments, people dementia, palliative care patient, people with autism and more.

Want to Learn More?

  • Training and job opportunities:
    • Work for Life is a campaign initiated by Home Care Ontario and the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA), and funded by the Government of Ontario, to raise awareness about the opportunities and benefits of becoming a Personal Support Worker (PSW).
  • Connect professionally:
    • The OPSWA is the first chapter of the Canadian Support Workers Association. Created in June of 2010, by the original founders of PSW Canada, now known as the Canadian Support Workers Association. OPSWA was created by PSWs for PSWs. 
  • HealthForceOntario HFO Jobs

Shortage of Personal Support Workers in the North East

Here in the Northeast region, similar to other areas across the province, shortages of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are having an impact on the health care system. For home and community care clients, it means they might be put on a wait-list for a service or experience missed PSW visits. Long-term Care homes are having problems staffing as well resulting in being short-staffed on some shifts. This shortage is also affecting Northeastern Ontario hospitals’ ability to discharge patients in a timely manner, as the patients wait for providers in the community to have space to take on new clients. While health human resources challenges have occurred in the past, the situation has become more acute in both urban and rural areas.

North East LHIN PSW Task Force Creates an Action Plan

In the spring of 2018, a regional North East LHIN PSW Task Force was struck--made up of North East LHIN staff and multiple partners including a PSW, home and community care providers, long term care homes, a post-secondary institution and employment organization—with the purpose of identifying measures to counter challenges with the recruitment and retention of PSWs as well as capacity shortages in the North East. It was tasked with creating an Action Plan with a number of both short-term and long-term solutions. The Task Force’s Action Plan (finalized in November of 2018) has identified several priority areas including: oversight and coordination; working conditions and compensation; and collaboration and innovation.