Have you thought about starting a career as a Personal Support Worker but were unsure of the skills and traits employers look for when hiring? Each job posting is a bit different in regards to the responsibilities. Some employers may want to you work in the clients home, whereas other employers may have you working in a facility. Some jobs require you to light housekeeping and meal prep and others may not. It really depends on who it is.
When it comes to the traits employers want, these are all the same. After reviewing several job postings for Personal Support Workers, it became pretty evident that there are five key skills employers need.
As a Personal Support Worker, flexibility is one of the first traits that becomes evident right away. It is not a standard type of job where there is a lot of predictability in the tasks performed. One client may require light housekeeping, bathing, and meal prep. The next might require help with their medications, laundry, and toileting.
Because it’s a job involving caring for other people, the hours are going to be non-standard. Clients need care 24/7 so some shifts may be 7:30 am to 3:30 pm some days and 4 pm to Midnight the next. It’s also the kind of job where you are not working your standard Monday to Friday work week. Some weeks may be Sunday to Thursday, others Monday to Friday and others may drop a day off in the middle of the week. If you are a parent, it’s important that you are not only okay with this but it’s also important you have the support of your family to have long term success in the career.
The next part of being flexible also involves the possibility of not working in the same location every day. If you are working at a care home or long-term care facility, you can count on working at the same place every day. However, if you are working in home care or for an agency, you need to be flexible to travel to different locations around the city. Personal Support Workers who work in Homecare are required to work in different people’s homes. The homes may be close by but it is important to have access to reliable transportation to get you from one location to the next.
The last part about being flexible is your ability to work with different personality types. Not every client you work with is going to be easy going and sweet. Some people may have very debilitating health conditions which may lead them to not be the kindest person. Or some people may have mental heath conditions. Others may be very kind and sweet but have a mean side to them. You won’t know until you start working with them and need to adjust accordingly to handle their personality type.
Communicating effectively is key when working with the public. Let’s draw an example from US politics for a minute. If you compare the difference between President Obama and President Bush, their communication styles are very different. Obama is a fantastic orator with the ability to have the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Bush, on the other hand, tends to be more scattered in his speeches and a loss for the right words most of the time. Now, I am not saying Personal Support Workers need to inspire a nation every time they speak but it is important you can relay your message effectively.
Personal Support Workers speak with a variety of people throughout their shift. You may be talking with family members, the client, supervisors like your charge nurse, Resource Coordinators, Social Workers, and other support staff. It is important to relay the information you need to clearly and as simply as possible.
In addition to communicating effectively when speaking is the ability to write effectively. As a Personal Support Worker, you may log information about the client in a log book or chart. Alternately, you may need to leave instructions for the next person on shift. Whoever reads what you wrote, must be able to understand it.
Personal Support Workers as the heading suggests, need to be physically strong to their job. Now, I’m not talking they need to clean & jerk 300 pounds but do need to be able to lift a minimum amount of weight. In the research done on different job posts, it looks like the required minimum is 50 lbs to lift alone and 160 lbs when lifting with another Personal Support Worker. For certain lifts, you would use machines like a Hoyer lift or other transfer equipment to move the client.
As a Personal Support Worker, there is a lot of bending, twisting, going up and down stairs and so on. It is important to look after your health by exercising and take the time to rest and eating healthy.
This isn’t so much a trait as it is a requirement to get any Personal Support Worker job. However, when you are able to demonstrate to an employer you have taken the time to go to school to train for a career, you are showing more than just a piece of paper. You are demonstrating to them you have the ability to follow instructions, learn new skills, work in teams and more.
Most programs are seven months long and are trained at career or public colleges. Programs tend to be a combination of theory, lab work and practical experience in a facility. Each school is a bit different so it is important to do your research. For example, the program at Canadian College Windsor is seven months long. You can find more information about the Personal Support Worker program on our website.
Now, this trait didn’t show up in the job descriptions from employers. I would suggest is a must when considering becoming a Personal Support Worker. It is hard to work in a physically demanding job each day looking after people if you do not care for people and want to help them in this way. It is a career with a lot of demand but it is not for everyone. You need to be willing to be caring and empathetic with families, clients, and friends of the client. People will want to open up to you as you are working with their loved one. As well, there are times when the person you are caring for is in a vulnerable position and the utmost respect and care need to be given.
In the end, these are the five key traits employers look for in Personal Support Workers. By demonstrating the five traits when being interviewed, you are likely to succeed in getting the job. As well, and more importantly, having these traits makes the job more interesting and fun.