Exhausted PSWs need help. Regulation is the first step

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  • Jessica Paterson says:

    I completely agree with Professor Bulmer. PSWs need our support as the work they do is highly important but, in my opinion, undervalued. This issue is about equity as well. The pandemic has highlighted the inequities that exist in our healthcare system for people working in precarious positions. Regulation will hold institutions accountable for the best training and protection of PSWs, a workforce largely populated by individuals who face multiple oppressions due to the intersectional aspects of their social identities. I see PSW work akin to the important work that Early Childhood Educators do; ECEs are currently regulated in Ontario and PSWs need to be as well.

  • Andrea Jane says:

    The government should consider not telling families that the only way they can visit inside is to have two designated family members “provide care”. What?!?! Residents pay for their care and for that care to be delivered by trained professionals, not their family members who do not have the proper training and medical related knowledge. Where is that money going to? Certainly not enough is being done to retain the ones already working way beyond their capacities, therefore receiving no respect for all that they have been doing and continue to do.

  • Jason Macdonald says:

    We are the “servants” of the health care industry. Our patients certainly appreciate us because we keep them alive and help them to live their lives with dignity. But until the politicians in power have a personal or family experience of needing a PSW it’s hard for them to fully appreciate that we save lives everyday. We don’t perform surgery or any of the more glamorous/sensationalized aspects of health care that make it onto TV. We do the work you don’t see – the weeks of work to support recovery after the hours of surgery, the years of care after your parents can no longer look after themselves, the feeding, the cleaning and just as important the emotional contact and support.

    I’ve seen this Balkanization of an industry before – in the financial industry. Canada is a country of 38 million people with 13 financial regulators – the US has 10 times our population and only 1 securities regulator. In Canada I believe it is regional politicians and regulators refusing to relinquish their provincial power to a national regulator that keeps that fragmented status intact. Without a current regulatory body for PSW’s we need to start the regulatory process right with 1 regulator only.

    There is absolutely NO NEED for each province/territory to run their own regulations for PSWs – we need a national regulator to establish standards and best practices, create greater accountability for PSW’s and their employers, and create better working conditions for PSWs and patients such as limiting the number of patients per PSW to a reasonable number. Depending on the patient care needs that could be from 3-6 patients per PSW. Canadian citizens deserve the same quality of care across the country and that quality needs to be backed by a single national regulator.

  • Lois Nauta says:

    Seniors living in long-term care have very complex medical needs. Some PSWs are making assessments, providing nursing care, and even administering medications. I certainly hope they have more than a minimum of medical/nursing education and background. Why are unlicensed, unregulated workers administering medications and assessing complex medical conditions? Registered Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses should be responsible for that. PSWs are valuable for what they can offer, and have a place in the health care system, but they are not professional nurses. I don’t doubt their sincerity or character. They are simply not Registered Nurses or LPNs. You can’t just say that the number of cases of Covid-19 in long-term care centres was simply due to not enough PPE available. We’ve read the reports from the Canadian military when they were asked to intervene in the nursing homes. They found a lot lacking. The owners of the homes have a lot to answer for. I would ask this: what is the ratio of PSWs to LPNs or RNs in the long-term care centres? What is the education level of the PSWs? Do PSWs have a working understanding of disease transmission, signs and symptoms of acute illness, the principles of isolation, dehydration, respiratory function, vital signs, oximetry, etc? It takes a lot of knowledge to properly and efficiently care for someone with complex medical needs. Our seniors deserve to have the best possible care. EDUCATE, STANDARDIZE and REGULATE this industry.

  • Laura U says:

    My exposure to the PSW world has been small but I’m smart enough to know that in the future my life will be impacted by a PSW. What can I do now to help the process? Who do I email? who do I call to help move the changes along. One day when I need a PSW, I want to know that they are there for me.

  • Rick Lewis says:

    Very well spoken. Made me stop and think for a moment about how many friends and relatives i have working in this profession or have at one time. We certainly need to step up and support more.

  • Barbara Sullivan says:

    I have long thought that PSWs are an essential component of healthcare, both in institutional care and in the home. Having worked in the Home Care field before my retirement I know first hand that PSWs enabled many seniors to stay in their homes and continue to live as independently as possible.
    I support any initiative that will bring more reward and recognition to PSWs.

  • Wayne Martin says:

    As just an average tax payer, I fully support your efforts to get PSWs recognized, governed and paid for their service….Given the alternative is little personal help, which increases the likelihood of hospitalization (or worse) both from a humane and economic point of view we should support good PSWs.

  • Gerard Ryan says:

    We all should support these valuable workers and Governments should take action now to Regulate , Recognize and Respect this valuable workforce.
    They are Indispensable to our society as a whole.

  • Motlalepula Tumisang says:

    I will start by thanking you for the incredible work you’re doing on advocating for us. As a PSW student, it pains me to hear the stories of PSWs who are out there in the middle of a pandemic and any other day. Whether the weather permits (-35 degrees or 40 degrees) or not, they still have to show up to work and on time and care for the most vulnerable seniors. But they or not regulated, It’s sad. This will not change my mind to become one of the PSWs who are out there helping people who need us.

  • Marina says:

    Amazing article Laura. Keep being so passionate until the changes you want to happen, indeed happen!!
    -PSW student

  • Madison Goyer says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Overall great article to review and read!

  • Cameron says:

    It is absolutely critical that changes need to be made. This article was insightful and it absolutely makes sense. PSWs need our support now and things need to be regulated as in some real cases PSW make the difference between life and death.

  • Charlotte says:

    What a great article! Thank you much, I totally agree!

  • Lindsay Lewis says:

    Couldn’t agree more. A very important field and not enough recognition. Very well written Professor!

  • Destiny says:

    I have never read something so true before. I feel this from the bottom of my heart.

  • Zachary I Tucker-Abramson says:

    The horror stories about long term care homes show the need now more then ever for regulation and for better pay and to ensure PSWs are treated with dignity and respect. This article perfectly highlights solutions to headline after headline of the situations in home where families wake up everyday worried about their loved ones and the care and PSWs go to work in fear of their safety and dealing with immense stress and burnout. Thanks for this great article Laura.

  • Leanne Hickman says:

    Anyone can see how important PSWs are and how much they need to be regulated and respected. If for nothing else it is in the interest of public safety.
    Keep spreading the word Laura!!

    • Melissa Lad says:

      I couldn’t agree more, changes are long overdue. The pandemic has brought the issues to the fore front and they can no longer be ignored. Keep spreading the word!

  • Laura U says:

    Great article!

  • Nicola Bishop says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with Professor Bulmer. We need to help the industry in the long term, not just Covid times

    • Caroline Tachejian says:

      You really make so much sense. The government needs SME advisors, such as yourself, who can help orchestrate these much needed changes for PSW’s.

    • Julia Turay says:

      Wow! This piece is excellent! PSW frontline workers must have our support now! Thank you Ms. Bulmer for sharing your insights into this under represented, critically needed, but demeaningly misunderstood level of our healthcare.


Laura Bulmer


Laura Bulmer is a full-time professor at a Toronto community college and chair of the Canadian Association of Continuing Care Providers (CACCE). She has received the RNAO Best Practice Award for her work in palliative care and is a recipient of the Crystal Apple Teaching Award. She would love to hear your stories and is always looking for fellow PSW advocates to join her on this journey. You can reach her at vanbulmer@hotmail.com.

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