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To celebrate PSW Day this year, we asked our Personal Support Workers to share stories with us about meaningful experiences they’ve had with clients. Below, we’re sharing with you a heartwarming story from one of our PSWs, Rosalina, about her experience caring for one of her clients – in her own words:

PSW workers play a vital role in Ontario’s health care system, especially for older adults and people with disabilities. Working with clients in a multicultural community with diverse needs is quite interesting. But it can also be challenging for a PSW – it requires us to rely heavily on our skills, understanding, consideration, creativity and patience.

Each one of us has stories about multitasking, putting in hard work, and overcoming challenges to meet our clients’ needs. Our work is certainly not easy, but it can be incredibly satisfying to see the results of our innovation and problem solving, when we see our clients and their families comforted and happy.

I’d like to share a story about one of my clients. She’s in her mid-80s, and so different from my other clients. She is half-paralyzed and bedridden. She can only move her left hand and her left leg. She speaks multiple languages, but English is not one of them. In many ways, this is my greatest problem, because communicating is so important when you’re helping someone else. 

At first, I really found hard to provide care for her. I wanted to use my mobile app to translate back and forth between us, but it didn’t work because she combines multiple languages when she speaks. I asked her family to interpret some of the common words used daily and I wrote down a list. I also started using gestures and body language to express my thoughts. 

In the beginning, she used to get anxious and agitated, and wanted to get up from her bed. I had to distract her attention or offer her something to eat or drink, or call her daughter to speak to her. 

It took time, but after a while, I won her confidence. Now, she’s happy whenever I visit her. She feels great when I shampoo her hair and give her a bed bath. We enjoy each other’s company and my presence and assistance makes her happy and satisfied. 

I was especially honoured to hear that she prays for me and my family to be safe and healthy. (Her daughter translated that for me!)

I have become close with this family, and have seen the devotion and care that my client’s daughter has for her mother. She moved out of her own house and in with her mother to care for her three years ago. She has a big heart, and her husband and son are very supportive of her. But still, she finds it hard to care for her mom alone. 

I could see the frustration and burnout that my client’s daughter was facing. She’s always excited when I come visit because it’s her only chance to go out with her family, go to her own house and enjoy the company of her loved ones.

A while back, I could tell that the daughter was getting depressed. She told me she wanted to enrol in a Dental Assistant course, but would need my help with caring for her mom so she could attend classes. Working with my very supportive Service Coordinator, we were able to arrange my schedule so I could be there during the times my client’s daughter needed to be away, even if it was a day that I was supposed to be scheduled off. 

Now, after more than a year, she’s done with her in-class program, her clinical placement, and she’s just getting ready for the government exam. I’m so glad she was able to finish her studies, and I’m proud of the role that I was able to play in helping her with her academic achievements, while also being the primary caregiver for her mother.

Situations like these are able to happen because of the care of Personal Support Workers. Our work is physical, for sure, but there’s empathy, flexibility, and compassion needed as well.