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Maintaining Patient Safety as a PSW

February 4, 2015

Personal support worker course

A personal support worker is responsible for the well-being of someone who is no longer able to care for themselves. Upon completing your PSW courses, this kind of responsibility may seem overwhelming; however, ensuring the proper care of others can be an extremely rewarding experience. Being a PSW is a unique line of health care work, because the bond you form with your patients is able to grow and flourish over time. Often, you will become one of their dearest friends.

A personal support worker also has the responsibility of being aware of the dangers facing their patients. Some of these dangers can come from seemingly innocuous objects around the house, which can easily be safeguarded. Other times, the threats come from other family members in the form of abuse or neglect. In any case, your personal support worker training will help you recognize these dangers in order to provide the utmost safety and wellbeing for your clients.

Dangers Around the House

The most common household injuries are caused by falling down the stairs. For patients who may be suffering memory loss, injuries on the stairs can happen for reasons as simple as forgetting the way to the bathroom at night. A PSW may suggest that a patient install night lights in their hallways to avoid such incidences.

A common danger for those with restricted mobility is slippery floors. This could be an oil spill in the kitchen or a slippery bathtub. To keep a patient safe, a PSW should make sure the house is kept clean, and suggest that the patient have railings installed in the shower, paired with a safety-grip shower mat.

Elderly Abuse

It’s important to note that elderly abuse can come in many forms, be it physical, psychological or sexual. There are certain telling symptoms a PSW will be able to recognize as a result of their personal support worker courses. If you notice inexplicable scars, bruises or other injuries on your patient, they may be suffering physical abuse by someone close to them.

Sometimes, the elderly patient may not be able to remember who caused the injuries. In other instances, they are hiding the truth to protect a loved one who may be suffering from mental or psychological distress. If a patient’s family refuses to see you alone, this could also be an indication of problems.

Psychological symptoms of abuse may be harder to recognize. If a PSW witnesses a relative speaking sternly or cruelly to the patient, it may be necessary to speak to them about their behaviour. If it is clear this is an ongoing pattern, a personal support worker should look for ways to assist the patient and remove them from the situation.

Financial Exploitation

A wealthy patient whose mind may be slipping into dementia can be taken advantage of by family or friends. Unexplained withdrawals of money or suddenly missing valuables may be a sign that the patient’s condition is being taken advantage of. While these instances are rare, it can be necessary for the PSW to step up in these situations, as the patient may be unable to themselves.

Do you know any other ways a PSW can keep help maintain a patient’s safety?

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  • 165 Dundas Street West, 3rd Floor
  • Mississauga, Ontario, L5B 2N6
  • Phone : 1888 306 0991
  • Email : mississauga@nahb.ca
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