Schools Training

3 Essential Qualities of Personal Support Workers

29 MAY 2012
Career Path : Healthcare

PSWs assist with providing attentive care to the elderly and to patients who suffer from mental and/or physical disabilities, and chronic illness. Their presence is crucial to the healthcare system because of the assistance their provide to patients on a daily basis.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a PSW, you may want to take a look at the three qualities listed below to get a bit of a sneak peek into what is involved.

Career and Task Flexibility

PSWs have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private care settings. A PSW should be willing to work in any of these settings in order to ensure maximum exposure to all sorts of experiences that  a PSW career has to offer. There are many jobs that do not offer this level of mobility, so it is definitely an aspect that prospective PSWs can look forward to.

But regardless of the setting, PSWs definitely need to be flexible as far their duties go. Overall, PSWs are relied on to carry out a number of tasks that are crucial to patient care, including bathing patients who have limited mobility; making and changing patient beds; and maintaining a tidy environment for the patient. There is no such thing as ‘picking and choosing’ which task to do. They all need to get done.


PSWs spend a lot one-on-one of time with patients, and are thus exposed to their behavioural patterns. That said, it is important for PSWs to constantly remain mindful of any unusual or alarming behaviour by the patient. Many of these patients will be suffering from ailments that restrict their speech or levels of basic awareness, thus they may be completely incapable or unable to voice their discomfort or their very own concerns regarding their physical state.

What this translates to is that PSWs really have to be sensitive to even the slightest shift in a patient’s behaviour. Being able to notice such detail will of course come with experience, and PSWs will have also taken health courses that touch on this topic.

Accepting of Death

This idea of death can be a reality that some people are not comfortable with. Needless to say, this sort of aversion wouldn’t be very helpful in the healthcare industry. PSWs, along with every other healthcare professional, care for patients who are in some way fighting an ailment. Whether that ailment is immediately life-threatening or not does not eliminate the immediacy of death that is present in a the healthcare setting on a basis.

Being comfortable with the idea of death does not equate to being insensitive to life. Everyone has their own belief system, and has their own way of accepting life and death. For PSWs, it is important to not only explore their personal take on this, but also to be accepting of the different beliefs that others have. Most healthcare training will include courses that touch on these issues, and will give students a chance to develop their own perspective on the matter.