WHY CANADA NEEDS MORE PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKERS
In 2011, around 14% of Canadians were 65 years of age or older. This number is predicted to swell to around 19% by 2021. If this prediction holds, nearly 1 in 5 Canadians are expected to be over the age of retirement just six years from now. The Canadian population is aging. In fact, seniors are the fastest growing ‘age group’ in Canada.
An aging population suggests a few things for Canadians. To begin, most seniors have entered retirement. This means that jobs once dominated by baby-boomers, now collectively entering the ‘65+’ age range, are being vacated at an increasing rate. This is of particular interest in the field of healthcare. Here, we have seen worker shortages of late, a result of retirees leaving the profession. This trend carries two concerns. For one, healthcare workers play an important role in the day-to-day lives of many Canadians. Exacerbating that is the fact that the elderly comprise the single largest group that uses Canada’s healthcare services. Not only are these aging Canadians vacating important professions, but they are vacating the very ones on which they will rely heavily in the future.
This shortage of healthcare professionals has had a negative impact on the Canadian healthcare system. Already we have seen longer wait times in hospitals and clinics, adverse effects for patients, and difficult working conditions for healthcare workers forced to work longer hours. To address these issues, policy-makers have encouraged the training and hiring of new healthcare professionals. While this includes a push to hire more doctors and nurses, a major emphasis is placed on expanding the use of other healthcare professionals, who work in supporting roles, to alleviate this problem.
As a result, supportive roles in the healthcare field have seen recent growth. These professionals aid doctors and nurses by providing routine support wherever necessary. In Canada, these professionals are commonly referred to as Personal Support Workers but are also known as Continuing Care Assistants, Personal Care Attendants, Home Support Workers, Resident Care Workers, Health Care Assistants, Nursing Assistants, and Health Care Aides, depending on their specific duties.
The job description of a Personal Support Worker is quite broad, involving several responsibilities and skills. Typically, Personal Support Workers participate in teams geared for care and service. As such, they perform the duties of a support worker following high standards of professional and ethical conduct. They are also required to provide client-centered services tailored to a client’s specific needs or desires.
The ability to communicate effectively with clients, supervisors, and other medical personnel is key. Under appropriate supervision, Personal Support Workers use their knowledge, skills, and care service plans to aid in the development of better policies and procedures.
Personal Support Workers must be capable of creating a clean, comfortable, and safe environment for patients. In addition, they must also provide for all of a patient’s personalized care requirements.
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Ultimately, the services provided by Personal Support Workers are valued highly, ensuring their continuing role in the Canadian healthcare system. Take a look at our Personal Support Worker program to take one step closer toward working in the medical field.PERSONAL SUPPORT WORKER