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Safer Teams

VHA Research

Experiences of Homecare PSWs Working During the Covid-19 Pandemic

What’s the challenge?

The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected all facets of our society and in particular, the healthcare sector. While all healthcare workers are at an increased risk of infection during this pandemic, providing care to clients in the homecare sector can be particularly stressful.

Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are the “backbone of homecare” and care for people who are ill, elderly and in need of help with activities of daily living including showering and bathing. These essential workers care for some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Their work is high-touch and intimate and therefore cannot be done remotely. The PSW profession is also unregulated, and highly precarious due to low wages and unstable and unpredictable working conditions. Additionally, the PSW workforce is highly marginalized – made up of primarily women who are racialized and are often newcomers to Canada. 

The experiences of PSWs working in home care during the COVID-19 pandemic are not well understood. We believe it is important that we understand more about the experiences of PSWs working during the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can better support them in their role. 

What are we doing?

Given the important role of PSWs in homecare and the fact that they make up the majority of the workforce in this sector, it is imperative that we understand more about their experiences in working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data are also needed given the limited available evidence in this field from a Canadian perspective. This information is important for supporting PSWs in their role and for planning for future crises, including future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the employer perspective, understanding barriers and enablers that PSWs face is critical for employee retention given the current staff shortages and for the development of targeted strategies. 

The purpose of this study is to better understand the experiences of PSWs working in homecare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we want to understand their attitudes, motivations, and challenges to working during this time as well as perceptions of organizational support.

Project partners

Project Funders

Project Contact

Sonia Nizzer RSW., MSW
Clinical Research Coordinator II
VHA Home HealthCare
snizzer@vha.ca