Video Transcript | Tribute to PSWs
Well I have a prejudice, and I’ll share it with you. I am a fan of the personal support worker. Now across the country, they are called by many different names. In British Columbia today, they’re called healthcare assistants. In Alberta I think they’re called health care assistants. In some provinces they’re health care workers. Across the globe, they’re probably called health care workers. They’re also called resident care assistants, or continuing care aides, or continuing care assistants, or home and continuing care workers. What ever title, I love the old Shakespeare quote, “A rose by any other name still smells a sweet.” And a personal support worker by any other title is still amazing. Now, for this particular resource I’ve used the term personal support workers because, one, the majority of our users are personals support workers. Number two, I love the word personal. The work we do is personal: the work you do is personal. Number two, I love the word support. You’re not there to fix, you’re not there to make everything better. You’re not there to solve. You’re not there to do surgery. You’re there to support. I love that word. And the third word, work. It is work. It is huge work that you do. It is amazing work. So personal support worker – that’s our term for this book. Please forgive us for those who go by any other name, could you please know that we’re seeing you. I esteem you just the same.
I also want to share a piece of research that’s come out of Lakehead University. Mary Lou Kelly and her team have done some phenomenal research on quality palliative care and long-term care. Some of that is recorded on palliative alliance website. Now they discovered in their research that 70 percent of the work in long term care is done by personal support workers. Seventy percent!. Other people in the long term care field have suggested that it’s more like 90 percent of the work that is done, the direct care, is done by personal support workers. That is amazing.
And I think of the home care setting and I think of the amazing work that’s done, caring for people in the home. And probably in some homes, 70-, -90, -100 percent of the direct care may be done by you as personal support workers. I think also about the fact that there are many people who’ll do five minute appointments, 10 minute appointments, 15 minute appointments. See them in Emerg and still see them here. They’ll see them in a clinic. But, the personal support worker, you, you go and you stay, you’ll go places that nobody else wants to go. And some of those places are difficult. Some of them are downright ugly and some of them are incredibly fabulous. You do amazing work.
I want to finish with just a story. There was a woman and her name is Martha. She was looking after a woman who had died. And the woman died and I was called to the home to pronounce, at about 11 o’clock at night. And I got there and Martha had settled the husband with a cup of something, and the siblings, the children, she had settled (they were all adult children). And the wife was there and had been there, following her death, and she’d been laid out and she was just she was lying flat with the little pillow under her head. And the bedding had been cleaned up and was nice and tidy.
So my job was to come and pronounce, so I came and I did what I needed to do and we called the funeral home, and they were going to come and remove her body. The atmosphere in the home was incredible. So I said to the daughter, “Tell me, how this been for you?” And she said, “You know, everyone’s been good. The people at the cancer agency, they were great. The doc has been great, and the doctor has been great, and the home care nurses have been fantastic.” She says, “Martha? Martha made it all happen. Martha listened to us, she listened to us talk. When we asked her questions specific questions, she would answer them.”
“She didn’t give us advice but sometimes, if we asked her for information or something, she’d share something or she’d tell us where we’d get the information. When we were worried about something, she would say no, you don’t need to worry about that. So mum’s breathing became irregular and we said, “Do we need to call the nurse?” and Martha said, “No, this is a normal part of the dying. We can call her if you want, but this is normal.” And then a while later mum’s breathing became congested and Martha said we needed to call the nurse. So we called the nurse. Martha just coached us through the entire thing. She was here to help us through the entire thing. She knew the road. We didn’t know the road, but she knew the road, and she was comfortable with it. And she accessed the rest of the team, and the team would just arrive, and we think, “How did they get here.” Well Martha called them.”
So a tribute to you. Martha stands to me as an example of the amazing work that you do. I tribute you, I honor you, and I dedicate these resources to you.