June 3, 2013 - Richmond Hill, ON – Today SEIU Healthcare released a video of Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews “Walking - A - Day” in the footsteps of Juliette Chestney, a Personal Support Worker (PSW) from Milton. The event was designed to increase understanding of the important role that PSWs play in Ontario’s healthcare system and learn about the challenges faced everyday by frontline healthcare staff. The event was organized by SEIU Healthcare, Canada’s largest healthcare union, which represents Ms. Chestney, in collaboration with Red Cross Care Partners and the Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre.
The video shows Minister Matthews joining Ms. Chestney as they go about a typical day for a PSW providing homecare services. Along the way Ms. Matthews learns what PSWs do and how different skills are needed for different people, how important PSWs are in helping to keep clients at home, and the comfort and respite PSWs provide to families.
We meet two clients, one an 87-year-old grandmother with leg problems and a 22-year-old man who has physical challenges that restrict him to a wheelchair. During the visits, the Minister was able to observe many of the typical tasks that PSWs perform every day, such as providing assistance in bathing and dressing, oral health care, assistance getting out of bed, and performing a range of motion exercises. In the process, the Minister was able to witness the strong and trusting bond that people in need of care form with their PSW.
Both clients and family members are interviewed and talk about the importance of PSWs to their families in the video. Ms. Matthews comments that the PSW position is a highly skilled job and is the backbone of the healthcare system in which we need to invest more.
Emanuel Carvalho, Executive Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare, concludes the video by calling for an action plan to address the future needs of homecare. He said a major priority of SEIU Healthcare is to increase awareness of what PSWs do, and the valuable care they provide to people in all walks of life.
"We are very pleased that the Minister was able to spend some time with one of our PSWs and have an opportunity to see first-hand the critical role that PSWs play in the lives of people needing assistance," said Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare. "The Minister was able to both learn about the day-to-day challenges faced by PSWs, such as not having enough time with each client, to more systemic issues such as how to attract and retain quality healthcare workers to ensure the long-term sustainability of the heathcare system."