OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference!

One year later from the first conference & I’m writing about it yet again. Huh.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I knew from the moment I read up on OPSWA that it was something I wanted to be a part of. So to have really taken part in this years conference – from planning, to working it AND presenting – was a huge huge thing. And I loved it.

Instead of hosting it in a clinical setting, we opted for the more relaxed, yet formal look at the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center just off of the 401 & Hespeler (If you know Cambridge or drive the 401W frequently, you know where it is, otherwise, use Google. It’s your friend). It was perfect. The staff who set up the tables & prepared the food & helped us electrically-challenged were absolutely fantastic. And I think our guests thought so as well.

Instead of sitting and enjoying the show, I was wondering about taking pictures, Tweeting & Facebook-ing the event. As I did so, I not so subtly reserved one ear to eaves drop. Hey. I worked hard on helping to prepare this conference, so I wanted to know if people were enjoying it. Of course I could have asked – and I did – but this way got me very honest opinions. Words like “so much fun!”, “Interesting!” & “I can’t wait until next year!” made me smile from ear to ear. THIS is why I do this. Not for the money – because working for a not for profit association isn’t exactly the best way to become a millionaire – but because I BELIEVE in this.

PSWS are the forefront of healthcare and we NEED so badly to be recognized & held accountable to those we serve. This was mentioned adnauseum throughout the day & I have no doubt people may have become numb to hearing about it. Well, we’re not going away. & if this is something you too believe in then don’t stop preaching.

We had a lot of very interesting speakers, some even came back for a second round. Tilak Dutta of Toronto Rehab came last year and just like the first presentation blew our minds the second time around. He introduced a lot of new technology being tested so that one day it may make work for the PSW a lot easier. Hey, find me one PSW who isn’t on board with that.

Louise Lachowskyj, RN, OPSWA’s Director of Operations & token RHCP also came for a second time and talked to the crowd about the importance of proper charting. Her words are spoken with true honesty, sincerity & with a touch of humour & firmness. I very much enjoy the privilege of working with this wonderful woman and listening to her presentations.

Other presentations worthy of note are the Palliative Care talk by Wellington Hospice, MY VERY OWN presentation about apswlife & how I became involved with OPSWA. Needless to say I was a tad nervous, but I think my excitement and exhaustion covered that up nicely.

OPSWA’s President Miranda Ferrier – and my wonderful mentor & friend – also spoke to the crowd. Her focus was on the future of the PSW, leading into the desperate need for regulation. Will it happen? We still don’t know. Is there hope? Yes. there is always hope. We’ll keep pushing until it happens.

The day was a success. The presenters had a great time and most importantly, so did the 80 PSWs in attendance. Some came from local cities, where others travelled from Sudbury, Barry & Windsor to name a few. That’s dedication.

As much as I can’t wait for next year, I’m also sort of happy it’s over. I need a day… or 360 of them, before I can do this again.

For more highlights check out our page on Facebook. You can also search our hashtag on twitter #OPSWAConference2015.

I’ll leave you with CTV Kitchener’s coverage.
Yeah, that’s right. We got CTV there!


Yep, I put all CAPS for that title. I hope it grabbed your attention. It was meant to.

If you missed W5’s brilliant expose on abusive care in LTC homes, you missed something major. I hate to say this, but nothing in that 1 hour documentary surprised me – from the cases of horrendous abuse to the silly little union twit trying to cover the abusers ass. I’ve been around the block a few times, and thankfully I’ve personally never seen such appalling behaviour in my work place. You can bet if I did that PSW would no longer be working there. Unions don’t scare me & small minded people who pick on the weak to get off don’t scare me either. They disgust me. I would report it and do all that I could to make sure that that person never worked in LTC again.

Wait. Wouldn’t it be obvious? If someone abuses their client on the job, that’s call for automatic dismissal is it not? NOPE!

If you missed it, please go here to watch it. I hope it disgusts you.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any GOOD PSWS out there, because there are. There are tons. But unfortunately we get the brunt of the crap. We need to stand up as one, and DEMAND to be regulated. We are an integral part of the healthcare team. Look at this as a war. You have your politicians who call it – so in this case we have our DOCs (Director’s of Care). Then we have the people that actually FIGHT. And in our case that’s us – RNs, RPNs & PSWS. FRONT LINE WORKERS. And of these 3 designates, ONE is NOT regulated. MEANING that ANYONE can call themselves a PSW.

Obviously this won’t clean up the mess entirely, but it’s a damn good, strong start.

If you believe in this as strongly as I do, please sign our petition demanding the Ontario Long Term Care Association & Health Minister take action. There’s strength in numbers. Let’s prove it.

The Future Of The Personal Support Worker

Do we have a future? I think we do. Our profession is constantly taking on more responsibilities delegated to us by RPNs & RNs. The population is aging & will always continue to age and with that inevitably comes illness. Frankly, the job description of a personal support worker isn’t a nice one: we change incontinence garments worn by our clients; we help those who can’t feed themselves by feeding them (sometimes resulting in said meal being spit back to us) and we deal with verbal & sometimes physical abuse from those with (and sometimes without) dementia, just to name a few. So suffice to say people aren’t exactly lining up out the door for our jobs.

Wait. Or are they? Believe it or not they are. PSW programs are becoming more popular and with that the influx of trained workers is constantly increasing. The problem is this: NO ONE is hiring at the rate of PSWs graduating. PSWS are NEEDED but the jobs for us aren’t necessarily there waiting. We’re often hired on a casual or part-time basis to start. As has been painfully stated before, the ratio of PSW to resident is severely disproportionate.

So where do we stand? What’s coming for us?

Come to our conference on April 25th for the details. OPSWA’s President & Founder Miranda Ferrier will be talking about the future of PSWs.

April 25th, Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center
$75 for the entire day including lunch!

For details, please go to opswa.com or check out my previous update here.

ALSO, don’t forget to tune into W5 this Saturday on CTV to see Miranda and OPSWA talk about abuse in LTC.

The Countdown Is On!

If you’re not already aware, apswlife has become an official branch of OPSWA – The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – as their PSW Advocacy go-to. I have to say I’m thrilled for apswlife‘s new journey & I can’t wait to share more experiences & stand up for what I most believe in – US, THE PSW! We’re an important part of the healthcare system & it’s about darn time that we’re noticed. Am I right? So email me & tell me what’s on your mind. What is important to YOU, the PSW? snucci@opswa.com OR chat me up on Twitter @apswlife

A big part of advocacy is coming together as a whole and showing the world that we are a force to be reckoned with! So won’t you join me & many other of your peers at OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference happening on April 25th in Cambridge, ON.

Here’s the not so secret, yet extremely awesome activities that we’ll have going on through out the day! (If you look closely, you might notice a certain blogger will be there and presenting as well!)

Registration and Breakfast 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Opening Speakers 9:00 am – 9:30 am

Kathryn McGarry – MPP of Cambridge, Ontario – Opening Remarks
Dr. Catherine Brookman – speaks to the Value of the PSW Voice –Directing Home and
Community Care Now and in the Future

Featured Speakers:

Toronto Rehab 9:30 am – 10:30 am
PSWs and Self Care/Safety
Tilak Dutta

MORNING BREAK 10:30 am – 11:00 am

Wellington Hospice 11:00 am – 12:00 noon
PSWs in Palliative Care
Kathleen Scott PSW
Meaghan Scowcroft PSW

LUNCH BREAK 12:45 pm – 12:45 pm

A PSW Life 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm
Stefanie Nucci PSW

The Realities of the future of the PSW- 1:15 pm — 1:45 pm
Miranda Ferrier, President

AFTERNOON BREAK 1:45 pm – 2:15 pm

Charting, who is it really for? 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Louise Lachowskyj RN

Closing Remarks 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Miranda Ferrier PSW

“That” word.

In my 5 years of working in LTC, I don’t think I’ve come across one word that EVERYONE dreads more than this one: Outbreak. 

Whether it’s vomit, diarrhea, sneezing, coughing, shingles or a combination, no PSW likes to walk into work only to hear that dreaded word. This automatically means has-mat suits & resident’s kept in isolation. You need to wear a disposable gown, a mask, gloves and sometimes eye protection just to perform ordinary tasks.  It’s annoying. It’s a lot of work & it’s not pleasant for everyone involved.

This year has been nasty, specifically the last month. Which is odd, because flu season normally occurs from about October through to January. So when I walked into work in the middle of March to find out that we were on outbreak precautions I was a little surprised.

Illness spreads like wild fire in a LTC home. Our resident’s are older, their immune systems are older and they’re generally ill in other ways which doesn’t leave them with much energy to fight anything off. And then of course there’s us: PSWs. The ones who care for these people and through no fault of our own bring these germs with us where ever we go.

May 5th is World Hand Hygiene Day as declared by WHO (The World Health Organization). I’m really hoping that none of us need reminders on why or how we should be performing proper hand washing, but those of us who like the reminder, here are a few tips curtosy of Public Health Ontario.