If you pursue a career as a personal support worker (PSW), you may be curious about what role, if any, you can take in helping clients with their medications. Because medications can pose a health risk to clients, there are a number of rules that govern when and how they are administered.
To ensure that you become the best PSW you can be, it’s a good idea to understand responsibilities with regards to medication administration. Below we’ll look at some of the things you should know.
PSWs Should Understand When They Can and Cannot Administer Medication
A PSW cannot administer medication in a facility governed by either the Ontario Long Term Care Homes Act or one of Ontario’s hospital acts. This includes most long-term care homes and hospitals. In such places, only a Registered Health Professional (RHP), such as a Registered Nurse, can administer medication.
PSWs are also usually prohibited from assisting in administering medication that is injected, inserted, or inhaled regardless of where they work. However, there are exceptions to this rule. PSWs can help to administer medication that is injected, inserted, or inhaled if the administration of such medication is routine. By routine, the following conditions must be met:
- The administration of the medication is performed regularly
- The client’s health condition is stable
- The expected outcomes of the medication are known
- The PSW has been taught how to help administer the medication either by the client or by a health professional
Your employer will likely have further restrictions and rules on medication administration. Be sure to check with them first to be sure that you are following proper procedures and protocols.
Make sure you know your employer’s policies concerning PSWs and medication administration
As a PSW, You Should Usually Let the Client Take the Lead with Medication
PSWs are allowed to assist in the administration of oral pills/liquids, topicals, eye, ear, or nose drops, and transdermal patches. However, even for these dosage types, you first need on-the-job training and practice before you can safely help with their administration. Even before getting this training and practice, however, you can assist with the administration of medications in other ways, which you’ll learn about in personal support worker training. In this context, assisting usually refers to listening to clients and helping them with medication-related tasks that they may ask for.
For example, you can help the client open up a medication bottle if they need help doing so or you can ask the client if they have taken their medications. It is also permissible to remind clients when they need to take their medications. You can also hand out medication that has already been placed in a scheduled receptacle by either an RHP or by a family member.
PSWs can help administer medications from a scheduled receptacle filled by a family member or RHP
During Your Personal Support Worker Career, Client Safety Will Be Your Priority
During your personal support worker career, you should always make client safety your top priority. For that reason, you should report any irregularities with a client’s medication. An irregularity can include such things as a client having taken too much medication, having taken it at the wrong time, or having forgotten or refused to take it. Who you report an irregularity to will depend on where you work, but it may include a nursing supervisor or a family member. Your employer will have a standard procedure for reporting medication irregularities.
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Contact Oxford College to learn about our personal support worker program.