Lack of Personal Support Workers affects local home care and long-term care

Community Nov 28, 2018 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

A growing shortage of Personal Support Workers providing home care and long term care across Ontario has gone beyond a crisis, according to the association that represents the workers.

Miranda Ferrier, president of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association, said the lack of PSWs in Ontario has only gotten worse since the summer – when she told the Ottawa Citizen there was already a crisis across the province.

Ferrier said more workers are leaving the career due to dissatisfaction and burn-out, while fewer are entering training programs across the province.

“It’s declining,” Ferrier said. “This is not a profession of choice. We’re trying to make it a profession of choice.”

A survey of OPSWA members earlier this year found 79 per cent were unhappy with their jobs. Staffing issues, pay scale, unsafe work environments, long and unpredictable hours were among the issues. Large numbers reported already leaving their jobs, or that they were burned out.

St. Joseph’s Villa, a long term care facility in Dundas, is already concerned about a future impact. As current PSWs leave or retire, the replacements aren’t coming.

Villa administrator Mieke Ewen said PSW’s provide the majority of frontline care at the facility.

“They're hands-on, it's a very physical job,” Ewen said.

Personal Service Workers need specific training and education to work at places like St. Joseph’s Villa, which are highly regulated. But she’s heard enrolments are down in programs across the province – which means the skilled, trained workers won’t be available to replace those leaving or retiring.

“It’s not just here. It’s not just a Villa issue,” Ewen said.

Ferrier said high school students aren’t attracted to a careers as PSWs at least partially because the industry is not regulated and has no certification or licensing.

Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network spokesperson Trish Nelson confirmed they, along with LHINS across Ontario, are challenged by a shortage of PSWs for local home care visits.

Nelson said the local LHIN is looking at “more efficient staffing models” to deal with PSW shortages.

“One or two PSWs from a single agency may work within a (residential) building for their entire shift and provide support to all the residents within that building who need care,” Nelson said.

For OPSWA, taking over regulation of the sector and instituting standards while improving working conditions and pay is the answer to bringing in new PSWs and keeping the ones already working.

“It starts with self-regulation,” Ferrier said. “PSW’s need recognition and support. They don’t get that. They’re viewed in a lot of places, and feel like they are a throw-out sector.”

She said after graduating from Mohawk College, she worked in long-term care for three years and was never on a fully-staffed shift.

“It’s exhausting. You’re dealing with people with a variety of ailments,” Ferrier said. “It’s a ticking time bomb in long-term care.”

In addition, PSWs are dealing with family members of those they are caring for.

She said the PSW is the “frontline star” of Ontario government plans to improve health care by supporting home care and adding long term care beds – there’s just one problem.

“How are you going to staff it?” Ferrier asked.

To that end the association met with Health Minister Christine Elliott in October to deliver a proposal for self-regulation of PSW’s in Ontario, with new standards and supports. The plan would address wages, respect and recognition.

“We’re set up to do it. We could start tomorrow,” Ferrier said.

She said the meeting was positive, but the ministry appears to have been sidetracked by a variety of other ongoing health care issues in the province.

Ministry spokesperson David Jenson had no update on the ministry’s review of the association’s proposal.

In addition to pushing for self-regulation and new standards, the association intends to update its member survey in the new year while also investigating how many colleges across the province still offer the program. Ferrier said enrolment is down, and some colleges have apparently shut down their PSW programs.

“We know it’s bad, but we need a better grasp on it,” Ferrier said.

Mohawk College’s PSW program appears to be bucking the trend, reporting 165 students in the 2017-18 school year. That’s an increase from 117 students in 2013-14. The local program had 139, 145 and 149 students each year in between.

“Our numbers have been pretty steady,” said Mohawk spokesperson Sean Coffey.


Lack of Personal Support Workers affects local home care and long-term care

Mohawk College program bucking trend of declining enrolments while burned-out workers leave jobs

Community Nov 28, 2018 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

A growing shortage of Personal Support Workers providing home care and long term care across Ontario has gone beyond a crisis, according to the association that represents the workers.

Miranda Ferrier, president of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association, said the lack of PSWs in Ontario has only gotten worse since the summer – when she told the Ottawa Citizen there was already a crisis across the province.

Ferrier said more workers are leaving the career due to dissatisfaction and burn-out, while fewer are entering training programs across the province.

“It’s declining,” Ferrier said. “This is not a profession of choice. We’re trying to make it a profession of choice.”

“This is not a profession of choice. We’re trying to make it a profession of choice.”
Miranda Ferrier

A survey of OPSWA members earlier this year found 79 per cent were unhappy with their jobs. Staffing issues, pay scale, unsafe work environments, long and unpredictable hours were among the issues. Large numbers reported already leaving their jobs, or that they were burned out.

St. Joseph’s Villa, a long term care facility in Dundas, is already concerned about a future impact. As current PSWs leave or retire, the replacements aren’t coming.

Villa administrator Mieke Ewen said PSW’s provide the majority of frontline care at the facility.

“They're hands-on, it's a very physical job,” Ewen said.

Personal Service Workers need specific training and education to work at places like St. Joseph’s Villa, which are highly regulated. But she’s heard enrolments are down in programs across the province – which means the skilled, trained workers won’t be available to replace those leaving or retiring.

“It’s not just here. It’s not just a Villa issue,” Ewen said.

Ferrier said high school students aren’t attracted to a careers as PSWs at least partially because the industry is not regulated and has no certification or licensing.

Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network spokesperson Trish Nelson confirmed they, along with LHINS across Ontario, are challenged by a shortage of PSWs for local home care visits.

Nelson said the local LHIN is looking at “more efficient staffing models” to deal with PSW shortages.

“One or two PSWs from a single agency may work within a (residential) building for their entire shift and provide support to all the residents within that building who need care,” Nelson said.

For OPSWA, taking over regulation of the sector and instituting standards while improving working conditions and pay is the answer to bringing in new PSWs and keeping the ones already working.

“It starts with self-regulation,” Ferrier said. “PSW’s need recognition and support. They don’t get that. They’re viewed in a lot of places, and feel like they are a throw-out sector.”

She said after graduating from Mohawk College, she worked in long-term care for three years and was never on a fully-staffed shift.

“It’s exhausting. You’re dealing with people with a variety of ailments,” Ferrier said. “It’s a ticking time bomb in long-term care.”

In addition, PSWs are dealing with family members of those they are caring for.

She said the PSW is the “frontline star” of Ontario government plans to improve health care by supporting home care and adding long term care beds – there’s just one problem.

“How are you going to staff it?” Ferrier asked.

To that end the association met with Health Minister Christine Elliott in October to deliver a proposal for self-regulation of PSW’s in Ontario, with new standards and supports. The plan would address wages, respect and recognition.

“We’re set up to do it. We could start tomorrow,” Ferrier said.

She said the meeting was positive, but the ministry appears to have been sidetracked by a variety of other ongoing health care issues in the province.

Ministry spokesperson David Jenson had no update on the ministry’s review of the association’s proposal.

In addition to pushing for self-regulation and new standards, the association intends to update its member survey in the new year while also investigating how many colleges across the province still offer the program. Ferrier said enrolment is down, and some colleges have apparently shut down their PSW programs.

“We know it’s bad, but we need a better grasp on it,” Ferrier said.

Mohawk College’s PSW program appears to be bucking the trend, reporting 165 students in the 2017-18 school year. That’s an increase from 117 students in 2013-14. The local program had 139, 145 and 149 students each year in between.

“Our numbers have been pretty steady,” said Mohawk spokesperson Sean Coffey.


Lack of Personal Support Workers affects local home care and long-term care

Mohawk College program bucking trend of declining enrolments while burned-out workers leave jobs

Community Nov 28, 2018 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

A growing shortage of Personal Support Workers providing home care and long term care across Ontario has gone beyond a crisis, according to the association that represents the workers.

Miranda Ferrier, president of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association, said the lack of PSWs in Ontario has only gotten worse since the summer – when she told the Ottawa Citizen there was already a crisis across the province.

Ferrier said more workers are leaving the career due to dissatisfaction and burn-out, while fewer are entering training programs across the province.

“It’s declining,” Ferrier said. “This is not a profession of choice. We’re trying to make it a profession of choice.”

“This is not a profession of choice. We’re trying to make it a profession of choice.”
Miranda Ferrier

A survey of OPSWA members earlier this year found 79 per cent were unhappy with their jobs. Staffing issues, pay scale, unsafe work environments, long and unpredictable hours were among the issues. Large numbers reported already leaving their jobs, or that they were burned out.

St. Joseph’s Villa, a long term care facility in Dundas, is already concerned about a future impact. As current PSWs leave or retire, the replacements aren’t coming.

Villa administrator Mieke Ewen said PSW’s provide the majority of frontline care at the facility.

“They're hands-on, it's a very physical job,” Ewen said.

Personal Service Workers need specific training and education to work at places like St. Joseph’s Villa, which are highly regulated. But she’s heard enrolments are down in programs across the province – which means the skilled, trained workers won’t be available to replace those leaving or retiring.

“It’s not just here. It’s not just a Villa issue,” Ewen said.

Ferrier said high school students aren’t attracted to a careers as PSWs at least partially because the industry is not regulated and has no certification or licensing.

Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network spokesperson Trish Nelson confirmed they, along with LHINS across Ontario, are challenged by a shortage of PSWs for local home care visits.

Nelson said the local LHIN is looking at “more efficient staffing models” to deal with PSW shortages.

“One or two PSWs from a single agency may work within a (residential) building for their entire shift and provide support to all the residents within that building who need care,” Nelson said.

For OPSWA, taking over regulation of the sector and instituting standards while improving working conditions and pay is the answer to bringing in new PSWs and keeping the ones already working.

“It starts with self-regulation,” Ferrier said. “PSW’s need recognition and support. They don’t get that. They’re viewed in a lot of places, and feel like they are a throw-out sector.”

She said after graduating from Mohawk College, she worked in long-term care for three years and was never on a fully-staffed shift.

“It’s exhausting. You’re dealing with people with a variety of ailments,” Ferrier said. “It’s a ticking time bomb in long-term care.”

In addition, PSWs are dealing with family members of those they are caring for.

She said the PSW is the “frontline star” of Ontario government plans to improve health care by supporting home care and adding long term care beds – there’s just one problem.

“How are you going to staff it?” Ferrier asked.

To that end the association met with Health Minister Christine Elliott in October to deliver a proposal for self-regulation of PSW’s in Ontario, with new standards and supports. The plan would address wages, respect and recognition.

“We’re set up to do it. We could start tomorrow,” Ferrier said.

She said the meeting was positive, but the ministry appears to have been sidetracked by a variety of other ongoing health care issues in the province.

Ministry spokesperson David Jenson had no update on the ministry’s review of the association’s proposal.

In addition to pushing for self-regulation and new standards, the association intends to update its member survey in the new year while also investigating how many colleges across the province still offer the program. Ferrier said enrolment is down, and some colleges have apparently shut down their PSW programs.

“We know it’s bad, but we need a better grasp on it,” Ferrier said.

Mohawk College’s PSW program appears to be bucking the trend, reporting 165 students in the 2017-18 school year. That’s an increase from 117 students in 2013-14. The local program had 139, 145 and 149 students each year in between.

“Our numbers have been pretty steady,” said Mohawk spokesperson Sean Coffey.