Personal Support Worker

How Those with Personal Support Worker Training Can Help Clients with Dementia

March 05, 2021

A personal support worker (PSW) provides care to individuals with a range of mental illnesses and disabilities, helping them to lead enjoyable lives through support and assistance with daily tasks. PSWs may work in long-term care facilities, patient’s homes, or in supportive housing organizations. If you want to become a PSW, it’s likely that you will be caring for patients with dementia symptoms. Today, over
747,000 Canadians are currently living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and many of them require the help of personal support workers to perform daily functions.

Dementia is a complicated disease, and working with patients affected by dementia can be both a difficult and valuable experience. However, it’s important that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary to provide the right level of care and support to patients with dementia. Here are some ways that you can help those with dementia to feel comfortable, while also keeping them safe.

A Closer Look at Dementia for Those in Personal Support Worker Training

Dementia refers to a range of different symptoms, all of which represent a decline in an individual’s cognitive function. Memory loss is a common characteristic of dementia, but this condition can also affect a patient’s ability to communicate, focus, retain information, and apply logical reasoning. This condition can make it difficult for a person to perform daily tasks on their own, as they may find it difficult to recognize and voice their needs–in addition to suffering from shifts in personality, depression, paranoia and other psychological changes. 

Professionals with personal support worker training assist patients with dementia in their daily life

If you have personal support worker training, you’ll assist patients living with dementia with a number of routine daily tasks, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, feeding and bathing. As a PSW, it’s important to provide a level of care that helps patients to cope with what they are experiencing, while above all, being a kind and supportive companion.

When Working with Patients Who Have Dementia, Prioritize Their Safety

A major reason that personal support workers are vital in the care of patients with dementia is that PSWs can help to keep these patients safe. Patients with dementia may undergo changes in their judgment, reasoning, and general behaviour. These changes can compromise the ability of these patients to make safe decisions, to handle objects, or to perform tasks—potentially opening them up to a variety of harmful situations. 

Personal support workers assist patients with dementia with performing tasks which may be unsafe

After attending psw college, it’s important to remain vigilant when working with patients suffering from dementia, as their actions could inadvertently put their safety or the safety of others in jeopardy. PSWs should ensure that patients cannot access toxic substances, and should be supervised when handling objects such as scissors, or when operating a stovetop. Patients with dementia may forget that they’ve left the oven on, or get disoriented if left outdoors by themselves. For this reason, it’s vital that PSWs provide a high level of supervision to patients with dementia.

Compassion is Important

When working with patients with dementia, one of the most important things to know as a PSW is that these patients often undergo behavioural changes where they may come across as agitated, disrespectful, or mean-spirited. It can be easy to take the actions and words of an individual with dementia personally. But in order to provide the level of companionship and care that these patients require, you must always remember to act with patience, empathy, and compassion. 

As a PSW, being respectful of a patient’s needs and experiences can help to ease their burden—an extremely rewarding aspect of this often challenging work. By addressing situations that arise with a genuine attempt to understand what the patient is going through, you can help to reduce the anxieties of patients with dementia and make them feel truly supported. 

Are you ready to attend personal support worker school?

Medix College has the program for you. Explore your options today.

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