A Day in the Life of a PSW in Long Term Care

The career of a personal support worker is very rewarding but at the same time quite challenging. Residents aren’t always easy to deal with, and neither are coworkers or residents’ families.

As a PSW, your role is not just bathing and feeding. To many residents, you are the person they look forward to seeing every day. A friendly face, someone who they can count on and trust. Most residents haven’t got anyone in their life who is consistently there and knowing that you are that consistency for them, makes it all worthwhile.

A typical day begins at 7 AM with a full staff of PSW’s on the floor and a bed count of 30 residents. This is almost a Plan A day, unless a staff member calls in sick, which means a facility has full staff for the day. The more sick calls received puts the facility in crisis mode and takes a facility from Plan A into Plan B, or C. With fewer people on, the ratio of residents to PSWs increases meaning each PSW takes on more responsibility which could lead to residents not getting the proper care and attention they require.

Time management and teamwork are the keys to success in the morning routine as all 30 residents need to be ready and down to the dining room for breakfast within two hours. Each resident has different needs therefore every individual has a care plan that must be followed to a T. Whether they need help getting to the bathroom, help getting dressed, brushing their hair and teeth and washing their face. These are some of the morning tasks that PSW‘s are expected to do with each resident each day.

Not every resident is as cheerful and welcoming when the lights get turned on, waking them from a deep sleep. In instances as such, we must sometimes find innovative ways to encourage these residence or take a moment to step back and re-approach when they are little bit more awake. Most importantly, we need to remember to respect the residents and not force them to do anything they are not willing to do.

Upon arriving to dining room, we prepare each residence their specific meal and get them set up. This is one of my favourite times of the day as it allows you to spend a little more quality time with each resident. It is surely an interesting time sine certain residents need more help than others, some may have strict dietary restrictions and others may have difficulty eating or require encouragement.

After breakfast comes time to cleanup and return the residents to the rooms for a short rest. It is also prime time to squeeze in a bath or two before it’s time to start bringing all the residence back down to the dining room for lunch and do it all over again.

Now that the residents have their bellies full, it’s time for us to take our lunch break, which we are highly encouraged to take. Once we return from break, our shift is almost done and it’s time for charting. This is where everything is documented and anything that has happened throughout the day is recorded including the exact care a resident received, any behaviour issues or illnesses.

Some days, you may not have a chance to finish all your tasks and you may need to stay a little longer, but knowing you gave 100% on the shift, that you always approach every shift with care and compassion, and that you are making a difference in the residents’ lives, makes it all worth it! Why? Because you love your job, you love your residents – you are their superhero!


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