PSWs don’t need COVID test for home-based care, unlike long-term care counterparts

By Roderick Benns

PSWs don’t need COVID test for home-based care, unlike long-term care counterparts

A Little Britain woman is concerned there are different rules for personal support workers (PSWs) who see people in their own homes versus the PSWs who work in retirement and long-term care.

Namely, says Renee Aucoin, PSWs who provide homecare do not have to have to take a COVID test. Instead, they rely on self-evaluation – something that doesn’t sit well with her, considering her grandmother relies on home care.

Aucoin learned about the difference in a discussion on social media with someone who works in the sector and was shocked to hear this.

“My grandmother lives in a condo and I know she just assumed it would be the case that these workers would have had a (COVID) test,” she says.

“A self-scan is not adequate,” she says, and believes that PSWs are going to do what they can to keep their shifts, regardless of how they feel. “That puts vulnerable people at risk.”

Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes has more than 30 PSWs who provide more than 40,000 hours of care to over 600 clients, such as Aucoin’s grandmother. Graeme Morrison, communications and public relations leader for the non-profit, says PSWs have provided “exceptional care to our community’s most vulnerable members throughout the pandemic.”

“Since day one of the pandemic, Community Care has been following all public health directives in order to protect our staff, volunteers, clients, and the community as a whole.”

However, he says, those health directives set by the province do not include weekly testing for the coronavirus.

“At this time, there is no existing directive requiring community-based PSWs to be tested weekly,” he says.

The two most important tools at Community Care’s disposal, he notes, are “proactive screening practices for both staff and clients,” as well as PPE.

“We ensure all of our staff self-screen before beginning work, and we are tracking the results for contact tracing purposes. We provide our PSWs with allotted time in their schedules to call clients ahead of each visit and they document the client screening in writing. Our PSWs are also provided with, and trained how to use effectively, the latest recommended PPE,” says Morrison.

Aucoin’s grandmother, Ann, is 88 and has cancer in her bladder, is living with Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, and water retention. She is non-mobile and is in a motorized wheelchair.

Ann lives with Aucoin’s mother who has medical issues of her own. “So she can’t do everything on her own and that’s why they needed the PSWs’ help for my nana.”

Aucoin says her grandmother was “under the assumption they got tests done” and believes they should get this completed occasionally at least.

Given that it’s the province that hasn’t mandated these tests, Aucoin says her grandmother feels “less cared about.”

“And all seniors should be cared for equally, weather they are in long-term care or receiving home care.”

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