I love Personal Support Workers (PSWs). I’ve worked with them, I’ve taught them and I employ them. They have one of the most hands-on jobs out of all health care professionals and our aging population would be under provided for without them.
A PSW’s job description includes providing support and non-medical care to patients, residents and clients. This includes activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, dressing and oral hygiene. It also involves companionship, assistance with medication, light housekeeping, meal prep and feeding, ambulation, running errands, minor dressing changes, palliative care, etc. A considerable list for a mere mortal! Don’t forget PSWs work short every single day which can leave them responsible for providing this type of care to 16 people in one shift. Not to mention that PSWs have more ‘supervisors’ than any other profession I know of. In a facility they have a Director of Care, charge nurses, registered practical nurses, residents and their families; each of them giving directives, most of them without communicating to each other first. And lastly, we expect PSWs to be happy while they do this.
Now add the fact that we have a deficit of PSWs that only promises to increase as the demands of an aging population takes its toll on our health care system and people working within it. Making sure that our seniors get the best care possible has already proven to be a challenging undertaking. To get ahead of this healthcare crisis we’re going to need to take better care of the people who take care of our elderly.
Small, consistent changes are the quickest way to great improvements. Here’s what I do to let my employees know that I couldn’t do this without them:
- There’s value in value. People who feel valued and appreciated by their supervisors are more likely to go above and beyond for their workplace and hold themselves accountable for their part in workplace successes. More importantly, they will be happier in their roles. If supervisors put emphasis on connecting with employees, they will reap the benefit of a dedicated, long-term team member.
- Workplace wellness. When employees feel cared for they are happier with their jobs. Wellness programs are the latest trend among employers, who have begun to realize that a healthier workforce means better productivity, less absenteeism, and more camaraderie among staff. We’ve had Lisa Lounsbury of New Day Wellness talk to us about staying active, eating for energy, setting goals and team building. The team that plays together stays together and that’s exactly what I want for our companies.
- Learn to listen and then listen and learn. I was once told ‘we have two ears and one mouth for a reason’ and that’s stuck with me. There’s no better way to build a better understanding of an employee’s challenges, their day and what motivates them then by listening to them. Take the time to listen and you’ll hear exactly what you need to do to keep people happy in their job. You’ll lead by example and get some great ideas and solutions while you’re at it.
- Thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU! Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to thank you’s because it confirms that their work is appreciated. I aim to give employees thank you’s that are timely and personal. I like to point out how a team member’s behavior or effort supports our vision. Recognizing great work keeps employees jovial, productive and motivated to continue to improve on their work.
When employers create an environment in which employees feel valued, they are inspired to do their best work, they’re motivated to stay with the company and will promote their place of employment to others. In this day and age, where PSWs are in demand and the ever-growing aging population is on the rise these simple steps can be a game changer for your employees and residents alike.