Each client has a personal care plan developed by a team which may include family, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, case coordinators, and more. Together, all health professionals work to help implement this plan, and that includes PSWs. This means that PSWs work as a part of a team, usually under the supervision of a regulated healthcare professional (RHP) such as a registered nurse (RN).
An RN or another RHP may assign health-related tasks to a PSW under particular circumstances. The PSW must be trained and confident in performing the task and the task must be routine. A task is considered routine if the outcome of the task is established and predictable. Here are a few examples.
1. Administering a Substance by Injection or Inhalation
In Ontario the administration of a substance by injection or inhalation is referred to as a “controlled act.” A controlled act is regulated, but may be assigned to a PSW under certain circumstances. Administering medications is within the scope of what a PSW can do, but it still must be assigned and supervised by an RHP.
A PSW will be trained in all routine needs of a client
For example, a client may have diabetes and require a regular dose of insulin to regulate blood sugars. If the client’s condition is determined to be predictable and the dosage amount is not sliding scale, then a PSW may administer this injection as assigned by an RHP. The PSW must first be trained to perform the task and the client must be thoroughly assessed to ensure that the insulin inject meets the criteria of a routine activity.
2. Assisting with Wound Care
Another health related duty that is part of personal support worker training is changing non-sterile dressings. This may overlap with skin care, or bathing, but similar to administering medication, a PSW may be involved in wound care only if assigned by an RHP. The type of wound dressings and the times at which they need to be changed will be part of the plan of care for a client.
There are many types of dressings that different clients will have depending on their situation. Under the supervision of an RHP, the PSW may help reposition the client for a dressing change to be done, or be asked to assist in the dressing change itself.
3. Graduates of Personal Support Worker Training Know to Report Health Changes
In the course of spending time with a client, a PSW will naturally get to know the client’s behaviours and be familiar with how a client regularly goes about their daily activities. For graduates of PSW training, this is an important part of their career. This means that a PSW should be able to notice any changes that occur with the client’s health.
For example, a PSW may need to help a client move from a bed to a chair. If you do this every day you will likely be aware if the client requires more support than usual, or if the movement has become painful for them. It will be important to report any changes about a client’s health to the supervising RHP because the care plan may need to be revised.
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