Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 ways to be a great PSW

This is an open letter to those who work as personal support workers (PSW). I love you all! Some of you have more integrity than others. (Integrity means doing a great job even when no one is looking!) There are no horrible jobs, but there are some who do a horrible job at their job. I love it when someone is happy doing their work. Working with children or seniors, I have found a great reward in making a difference.
You do make a difference.

garbage under bed, nicotine stains on baseboard

1. Dress for success. Be clean. You can transfer flu, bacteria, or superbugs from client to client if you do not wash your hands and your uniform regularly. After 5 or 6 applications of hand sanitizer, you really need to handwash to effectively remove all bacteria.

2. Groom yourself. Brush or comb your hair. Put on deodorant. Shave. I mean it. It may be cool for an actor, but 5:00 o'clock stubble is disrespectful to a client who is anxious to see you. Do avoid products with perfume. Many have allergies.

3. Show respect. I was shocked to hear people talk to my father as 'Ray'! To those in business in his era, people spoke with respect, and only used 'Mr. Jilks' until asked to do otherwise. You could well be young enough to be a grandchild.

4. Smile. They may be deaf. Your client may have ugly wounds, or scars, or other issues. A smile is most welcome. It is an important part of non-verbal communication.

5. Don't talk about the royal 'we'. You are going to deliver care. They will be the care recipient. "We" don't need a sponge bath. You client does.

6. Talk about what you are going to do. Prepare them for the event. Often it is painful, usually it is undignified, to have a relative stranger give such intimate care. These are men and women who were pioneers, who wrestled with difficult jobs, physical labour and were amazing human beings in their prime. They learned to use computers in an age when the technology has advanced light years.

blood-soaked pillow, garbage in bathtub

7. Ask about their life history. Read my post on Life Review. There is lots to talk about. If, as is the case, your client is hard-of-hearing, see #4: your smile is the only thing they hear. They won't remember what you said, maybe not what you did, but they will remember how you treated them and will be glad to see you the next day.

8. Radiate positive energy and good humour. Do not gossip. Do not complain. Many clients have complained to me that PSWs were grumpy and negative. They don't want to hear this. They don't want to hear you complain about your boss, your job, co-workers, or your spouse. Many are not deaf, and you are in public, in their rooms. If you complain about others who are rude and snarky, this trait will be transferred to you ('trait transfer').

garbage on the floor

9. Focus on the job at hand. Give your client the attention they deserve. When you are doing a two-person lift, for a client with dementia, in a semi-private room, there is another person listening as you are dissing another employee, or your boss, or discussing your sex life. My clients have complained about you to me, perhaps they should complain to your supervisor.

10. Speak truth to power. If you hear things, if you see things, or smell things, report them. Communicate with your supervisor. Family members will appreciate it. You have a great responsibility, with much to do.

looks like a cluttered warehouse - not easy working conditions

This post was inspired by a physician for physicians...
7 ways to make patients like you
1. Begin by walking into the room with a big smile on your face. 
2. Be easily impressed, entertained, and interested in your patients.
3. Have a friendly, open, engaged demeanor.
4. Remember trait transfer.  Whatever you say about other people shapes the way people see you.
5. Laugh at yourself.  This shows vulnerability and a sense of humor makes you more likeable and approachable. 
6. Radiate positive energy and good humor.
7.  Show your liking for others, including your patients. 

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