One Year On, One Year Strong

She loves to gossip. It doesn’t seem to matter that I dont know who shes talking about. She just likes the company. 
They have the cutest little pup who we joke has a lesbian crush on me. She goes nuts every time I make a visit and I love it. 
Hes not social. Hes more of a come in, do the job and get out, kind of guy. I’m cool with that. 
Shes got to be at least 90 years old. Lives alone, has visitors from time to time. She really and I mean REALLY loves a good cup of coffee. 

Its been a year. One whole year today that I moved my life to this beautiful little city and started 2 brand new jobs not knowing a single soul. I dont regret one day. And there have been hard ones. Tiresome ones. More importantly there have been really really HAPPY ONES, both in my personal and work life. I’ve gotten to know my clientèle. So much so that there will be a mutual missing as I embark on my well deserved vacation this week! It took a year to get here. One whole week with no obligations.

Sadly my other half does not have vacation time. He caught my cold during his week off (hard AND tiresome times).

Sorry I haven’t been updating a lot. I’ve been working or trying not to boil in this blasted heat. Ill try to get it together by September, but no promises.

12 More Days!

Good Morning!
I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to wake up this morning and see SUNSHINE! Yesterday we had wee snowflakes falling down here in Stratford. Pardon me? Unacceptable! I’ll be paying close attention the weather now. Not because I am desperate to always wear sandals – which I am – but mainly because in just 12 days time team apswlife will be walking to raise awareness for Alzhiemer’s Disease! May 28th is the magical day for the Stratford walk and I am so so pumped!

To date, our team has raised $685, that’s $185 more than I had hoped to raise! Not only that, but our team is #2 in raising the most funds in Perth County! Thank you! I am so so grateful to everyone who has been able to support us – whether it be financially, emotionally, morally or in good friendship. Thank you.

In other news, work has been going very well. I have really taken to my new role as a personal support worker in home care. I still remember not too long ago how I was dreading it and wishing I could do anything but. Now I’m content. I adore my clientèle. I love not ever having to work the midnight shift again. Hell, I love not having to work past 10pm!

My mind has been all over the place lately with blog post ideas, so as soon as I can sort those out I’ll be right back here typing away. Now I must go fetch some coffee.

Hope you all have a great day!

(To donate to team apswlife, please click here.)

Ailments of a PSW

Dementia.

Alzheimer’s diseaseEarly onset dementiaMild Cognitive ImpairmentVascular dementiaMixed dementiaFrontotemporal dementiaLewy body dementiaCreutzfeldt-Jakob diseaseDown syndrome (www.Alzheimer.ca)

Pneumonia
Parkinson’s Disease
C. Diff (Clostridium Difficile)
The Flu
Bi-Polar Disorder
Depression
Schizophrenia
Stroke
Immobility
Incontinence Problems
Deafness
Blindness
Cancers
Palliative Care
Aphasia & Disphagia
Cardiovascular Disease

And of course, your general assholes.

Yep. PSWS definitely don’t need to be regulated.
That was sarcasm.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at @apswlife #regulationforPSWS

REGULATE US – NOW.

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

OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I first got involved with The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association. And you know what? I haven’t looked back. I’ve been questioned by several people as to WHY I put so much time into something that isn’t getting the attention – well, near the amount of attention –  I think it deserves. I’ll tell you why. I am a PSW. A Personal Support Worker. I believe in the care that I provide. I believe that our seniors – and anyone else requiring the need of a PSW – should get the VERY BEST that this profession has to offer. OPSWA is the ONLY entity willing to stand up, protect, govern & imply accountability to those working in this extremely important field of work. Our government isn’t even willing to do that.

Doesn’t that insult you? We take care of the provinces MOST vulnerable and our government sees no need to make us accountable for our actions. Sees no need to properly regulate the schooling that we take. Now think of this as if YOU yourself needed the help from a PSW. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that someone was keeping severe tabs on the person taking care of you? I would. And this is why I work with & belong as a proud member with OPSWA. Because when I’m old – and when my parents are old – I don’t want to worry. Because as it stands right now? I worry. BIG TIME. So I’m taking a stand and CHOOSING to be accountable to the people I serve. And I urge you to do the same. I honestly question those that don’t see the many benefits this association has to offer.

April 25th of this year is OPSWA’s Second Annual PSW Conference and needless to say I am thrilled beyond bits to be attending. There’s something about being in a room with your peers, people who truly understand the hardships that we as PSWs endure on a daily basis, that makes me feel so wonderful inside.

This years conference will be taking place at the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center from 8am-4pm. Not only do you get free food – don’t lie, that’s important to you – but you get a a chance to bump & grind with the industry’s top employers. There will be several venues there who are more than looking forward to meeting YOU – the awesome PSW that I know you are. Speakers include Hospice Wellington on the importance of palliative care, Toronto Rehab Facility, renowned disability advocate Joannie Cowie, MYSELF (apswlife) & many more.

Come talk with us. We understand the scare factor when using a hoyer lift. Or when someone’s bowels explode on your shoes.

You know how to find me. Twitter @apswlife & snucci@opswa.com

Good changes. Excellent changes. AMAZING changes in fact. And not just the blog itself – but the blogger. The lovely lady behind this here screen is slowly becoming a little more than a PSW and she – I – could not be more thrilled. I really need to stop talking in third person.

Not too long ago I posted about the OPSWA – Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – and it’s first annual conference which took place at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Slowly I have been getting to know OPSWA and it’s members by not only joining the organization but by becoming involved in working with them in anyway possible.

My heart still belongs – and will always belong – in LTC but as someone who takes their job and their career extremely seriously, I want to get as much information and education as possible. Not only that, but I want to help further educate others who are new to the field. I want to research government and find out WHAT it is they are doing for us. For YOU. I feel extremely privileged to be in this position.

And you know what, fellow PSWs? You can be to! What’s stopping you? OPSWA is the ONLY professional organization in the province who represents us. Even better, it is an organization run by PSWs. Not corporate phony bologna’s who wear suits and have no idea what it is we do. No. We get it. We’ve been there. I’m still there – working in the field – and don’t intend to leave. The more we work together as whole, we can make this fly. Not just OPSWA, but us, PSWs in general. We deserve the respect and believe you me, we’re going to get it.

Check us out guys.
You won’t be disappointed. Promise.

http://www.opswa.com
@apswlife (twitter)

The First Annual OPSWA Conference!

 

I arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto at around 7am. The conference wasn’t to start until 9am but I wanted to be early. I had spoken to Miranda previously in the week and I was anxious to meet her in person prior to the conference starting as I knew that once everything got underway she would be very busy.
On Saturday, April 26th the first ever OPSWA – Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – Conference took place with over 50 PSWs in attendance. Vendors such as the OLTCA – Ontario Long Term Care Association – and Preferred Healthcare Services were in attendance as well, there to discuss EVERYTHING PSW.
I was home. I have never felt more welcome and at home with a group of strangers before in my life. Even though I had never met any of these people before, I felt as though I got them. We understood each other. Every single one of us is a PSW who works in long term care or home care and we understand without having to explain ourselves all the difficulties and tribulations that we face on a daily basis in the work place. This was a conference of learning and coming together as a whole to respect the personal support worker as a necessary member of the healthcare world.

I’m the newbie to OPSWA. I am very happy to be a part of this wonderful organization as their social media and blogger guru. Hello, I get to Facebook, Twitter and blog about PSWs and get recognition and pay for it? Count me in! OPSWA would not be in existence without Miranda Ferrier, a wonderful and dedicated individual who founded the organization. This organization has been a necessity in getting PSWs on the map in Ontario, in getting us the recognition we deserve for all that we do in healthcare. A big shout out as well to Jennifer Giroux, OPSWA’s CEO and Jessica Maga, OPSWA’s PR. All wonderful women that I couldn’t have been happier to have met and I cannot wait to work together with you all at OPSWA!

So, now that I’ve hyped you all up into wanting to go to next year’s conference, how about I tell you what went on this year? You’ve been warned, your excitement level may hit an ultimate high.

First on the docket was Tilak Dutta of the Toronto Rehab Institute. PSWs in attendance received some in depth knowledge about proper lifting techniques so that both us AND the residents we help are safe and transferred properly. What really impressed me was a mechanism used to help with transferring a resident into a sling for a mechanical lift. As a PSW, I’m sure we can all relate to the difficulties of having to turn a resident over several times in order to get the sling on correctly. This can take up time and be uncomfortable for the resident. This device safely inserts balloon-like tubes underneath a person while laying in bed with the use of air to inflate it once on the other side. Picture someone laying on a water noodle – but softer. This can be done with out having to rotate your resident side to side which saves copious amounts of time and lessens the probability of a potential accident. I enjoyed this seminar very much.

At around 10am Sgt. John Keating of the Durham Regional Police took to the stage to address Senior Abuse in LTC. I cringed a lot when listening to some of the stories he told us as I CANNOT fathom doing anything like this to my residents. However, it is very important that PSWs hear this because IT HAPPENS and the more knowledge we have, the more power we have to put an end to it. Sgt. Keating presented his points in a manner that kept us interested and wanting more. He was funny, interactive and most importantly passionate about his cause. PSWs NEED support just like our residents do and it was absolutely fantastic to hear speakers who were just as passionate as we are about what we do. Thank you, Sgt. Keating.

After our break – because let’s face it, even though we’re enthused and excited, we’re also antsy for washroom breaks and coffee! – we were very privileged to hear information from our key note panel, featuring Sue VanderBent – CEO of the Ontario Home Care Association, Candace Chartier – CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association & Gilbert Sharpe – Partner, Fasken Martineau. All three panellists introduced themselves and what it is they did in their positions. They also took questions from the audience regarding the future of PSWs in healthcare and their responses were very encouraging.

My favourite part of the conference – and I’m not making a pathetic attempt to kiss butt, I swear – was when Miranda Ferrier, the President and Founder of OPSWA took to the stage to talk about Professionalism in the Workforce. PSWs are NOT just diaper changers and feeders. That is an insult to our profession. We are so much more than that, and to get that point across it is absolutely imperative that we behave professionally in the work place when it comes to not only our residents, but our co-workers, employers and anyone else we come across. When going for interviews – do NOT dress in booty shorts. When Miranda mentioned that she had seen someone do this, my jaw dropped. Seriously? You are an important character in the world of healthcare – ACT LIKE IT! Miranda got these points across very well. The crowd was excited, engaged and if truth be told – maybe a little scared. I think everyone took a long look at themselves and their careers. Myself included. We could all benefit from a little reminder, right?

Louise Lachowskyj of Right At Home Canada and a very respected RN in the field spoke to us about Humour In Palliative Care. Did you have to re-read that? Yes, there is humour in palliative care and in all aspects of the healthcare field. Remember, we are working with people – people who have personalities, feelings and even a sense of humour. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, your greatest asset is getting to know your clients and residents. This will not only help with care, but getting to know them as a person will help them feel good about themselves as well, no matter the situation they are in. Just because someone is dying doesn’t mean they won’t find a joke funny. It doesn’t mean they won’t laugh at you if you make a fool of yourself. Louise did a fabulous job of pointing all of this out to us with stories from her own experiences. Her enthusiasm really had us paying attention and I think we all learned a lot from her.

Art Mathews of Preferred Health & Rod Piukkala, VP of Backcheck also spoke to the crowd. Their presentations informed us of various courses PSWs can take to further their careers and the importance of getting a police background check, something almost all employers require from their PSWs.

If all that wasn’t exciting enough – are you convinced yet? You should be! – we also had a very special surprise visitor join us. Deb Matthews, the Health Minister of Ontario came and had some extremely lovely words to say about OPSWA and all PSWs. Her words were uplifting, encouraging and full of genuine kindness and thanks for all that we do. To have the Minister of Health on our side is SO HUGE I can’t think of words to further describe it. Tomorrow – Tuesday, April 29th – she will be making a huge announcement which I am happy to say I will be in attendance for with OPSWA. Can we all say excitement overload?

So. Are you convinced yet? Will you fellow PSWs be in attendance for next year’s conference? I know I will be. This weekend was not only extremely informative but so much fun I think I’m still recovering from it all. I should also mention that after the conference, OPSWA held it’s PSW Appreciation Night at the Monarch Pub located at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. Yes, there was wine involved and yes, there was dancing. That’s all I’m going to say – if you want to know more come out next year! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, visit http://www.opswa.com