Pursuing a career as a personal support worker is an incredibly rewarding endeavour. As a PSW, you’ll be providing care to the people who need it most. However, as with many professions in healthcare, the rewards of this career also come with certain challenges.
If you pursue a career as a personal support worker, you may at some point interact with families as they cope with difficult news. This is especially common if your client passes away or if they have recently received a discouraging diagnosis. As a PSW, navigating this grief can present challenges, especially since different families grieve in different ways.
To help you thrive in your career, here are some points to keep in mind as a PSW.
Personal Support Workers Can Show Empathy While Acknowledging Limitations
Providing empathetic support to families of seriously ill clients can be a balancing act. This is because you’ll need to show families that you are sympathetic to what they are going through without crossing any boundaries.
It’s usually best to avoid phrases such as “I know how you feel”. Even if you have a loved one who is ill, you can’t know what another person is feeling, and often this well-intentioned statement can backfire. Instead, it is often best to simply admit that you can’t imagine what they are going through.
Furthermore, while it’s normal to feel saddened when a client passes or when their illness progresses, it is important to remain composed and professional when communicating with the family. If you don’t, they may become uncomfortable or start to feel like they are the ones who need to support you. If you find an instance particularly difficult to manage, it may be best to have a colleague take your place temporarily.
Use Personal Support Worker Training to Provide Families with Practical Assistance
Regardless of whether the news was sudden or expected, many families may find it difficult to cope. For some individuals, this may be the first time they have dealt with such a situation. The practical support offered by graduates of personal support worker training can be especially valuable during this time. For example, if a client has received a difficult diagnosis or has lost mobility, the assistance you provide with things like personal hygiene and mealtimes can help them maintain a high quality of life. This, in turn, can reassure families that their loved ones are receiving the best care they can.
Personal Support Workers Can Take Their Cues from Grieving Families
Everybody grieves in their own way, which is something to be cognizant of in your profession after completing a personal support worker diploma. Some people will be very emotional, while others may appear the opposite. People going through grief often worry that they are not doing it the “right” way. As a PSW, you need to remain non-judgemental of how people grieve. Some may want to talk to you about their loved one, while others will want to be left alone. Again, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, so take your cues from the family when approaching these situations.
Are you interested in a career as a personal support worker?
Contact Anderson College to learn more about our personal support worker courses.