Ethical Considerations for Personal Support Workers And Ethical Competence in the Personal Support Worker’s Profession


Personal support workers are a broad category of social workers that work in health care to provide support such as home care. They are considered to be low wage and insecure jobs as postulated by (Katherine Z. and Mike Saks, 2017).This is because of the position they hold in the labour market given the oversupply of labour making them to be perceived as short term jobs with rights that are limited and with a status of minority. Due to this, personal support worker’s must increasingly face complex ethical consideration; however, the profession also offers significant employment opportunities as well as opportunities for professional development contrary to popular belief.

Ethical considerations for personal support workers

The profession of personal support workers involves supporting patients. This means that these workers are faced with decisions that they have to make in regard to social care and the clinical care of patients with some of this decisions presenting ethical dilemmas (David S., 2012) in that they are not as clear for them. It is therefore prudent to have well vetted and qualified staff as personal support workers in since some of their decisions may rely on their own judgements (David S., 2012) rather than text book instructions on how to go about certain dilemmas.

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Ethics is a major issue in health care to which the ethical principle approach should be employed (Stanford, 2019).Bioethicists postulate that for any practice in medicine to be considered ethically sound, it must meet the four considerations or principles (David S., 2012) which are autonomy,justice,beneficence and non-maleficence.

In autonomy, every client or patient is deemed to be independent in thought and should be governed by self-rule whilst being aided to make informed decisions (David S., 2012).When a personal support worker listens and executes a clients or patient’s wishes, they are upholding the principle of autonomy. Personal support workers should be careful to always relay information that would enable patients or clients to make informed decisions. Beneficence as an ethical principle is concerned with basically doing what is right whilst giving good care to others. Beneficence simply means acting in a way that encourages the general wellbeing of your fellow people that you may come across. The personal support worker should always strive to provide the utmost best care to his patients that will go a long way in benefitting them in their health and emotional wellbeing (David S., 2012).The care also has to be in line with the procedures and policies that are outline whilst keeping the client at the heart of the  service (David S., 2012).

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Non maleficence as the third ethical principle is concerned with actively abstaining from harming others to which personal support workers are expected not to inflict harm on patients or clients but rather do the opposite (David S., 2012). They are therefore required to observe safety of their clients or patients and their families and the wider public as well as themselves.

 Justice is the last principle to which it is concerned with the provision of equal treatment of cases that are somewhat equal. It is about treating everyone in a particular condition in a similar manner. According to (David S., 2012) it is concerned with meeting patient’s or clients’ needs fairly. Personal support workers should be able to communicate any inequality in health care provision they may witness and should therefore act as advocates of the patients or clients especially in situations where clients cannot speak for themselves (Stanford, 2019).

Employment opportunities and paths for career growth within the personal support worker’s profession.

The demand for home care is ever increasing with the services ranging from nursing care social work to physical and occupational therapy  which is all provided by personal support workers.(Debra Fulghum B., 2019).The rising ageing population in Canada has presented the opportunities for home care as they seek cheaper alternatives to get  good professional care from the comfort of their homes. According to statistics in the United States of America on employment opportunities in the health sector, the personal support worker’s profession will grow rapidly through to 2028 with job opportunities increasing to 17% by May 2018 and 12 percent for the nurses by May 2018 showing consistent growth in these opportunities given the underlying demand (Study, 2019).

According to the Osilla institute a college for personal support workers Toronto Canada, there are many career paths for growth in the personal support worker’s profession (Osilla Institute, 2016).The institute lists them as resident care aides who work under supervision of the director of resident care in a nursing home for the old. Their duties are aligned with holistic care that does promote the wellbeing of the clients and the patients. Other career options are nursing assistants (Osilla Institute, 2016) to which they will work under the supervision of nurses to provide care to patients, restorative care professionals which is concerned with helping patients to recover through exercises that are rehabilitative in nature. One can also be a home support worker  who is duly trained to provide care at the homes of the patients and clients  (Osilla Institute, 2016).It is worth to note that all these career options for growth of the personal support worker are fueled by the demand in the care services.

Ethical competence in the personal support worker’s profession

Ethical competence is guided by a code of ethics which was developed after several reviews of literature and multi sector consultations (Registry of Ontario, 2019) .The ethical competence of personal support workers is based on the 4 principles of principles of health care ethics as spelt out by (Stanford, 2019) which are autonomy,beneficence,non-maleficence and justice. The personal support workers are therefore guided by a code of ethics which is reinforced during the training period to ensure competence. Personal support workers in Ontario are expected to comply with a code of ethics to which it spells out the behavior expected of them when practicing health care (Registry of Ontario, 2019). This is to ensure that the personal support workers commit to providing high quality care with high standards involved for the ethical care.

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