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PSW Registry Announced

The Ontario government has announced that it is creating a 'registry' of personal support workers (PSWs).
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care says "PSWs will have the opportunity to sign up with the registry and provide key information such as: contact information, current employment, educational background and years of experience.  Employers and the public could use the registry to verify this important information, and employers would be better informed to meet patient needs." 
The registry, they claim, will be up and running no later than the summer of 2012.  
The full role and governance of the registry remains unclear, however.  The Ministry promises that "consultations with PSWs, their representatives and other stakeholders will begin in the summer."

The government initially considered putting PSWs under the control of a regulatory college, but decided not to follow this path, at least as a first step.  The government's Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) had advised that the "occupation does not operate within its own clearly defined body of knowledge." HPRAC instead recommended "standardized education outcomes for all providers of PSW training programs."  

The Ontario PSW Association president supports the registry in the hope that it will "create much-needed standardization of training, as well as establishing accountability for both PSWs and employers."  Another employer association has cited the role of a registry in the safety of home care patients and PSWs.   How the registry will establish accountability for employers, or improve safety for PSWs remains unclear.  

It is also unclear if this is a first, small step towards college regulation of PSWs.  While there are pros and cons to college regulation, one ongoing problem is that colleges discipline employees outside of the protection of their collective agreements.   After putting off the idea of college regulation, the government considered, for a time, the idea of creating a professional association with a 'strong public interest,' but it was never very clear what this might mean. 

The government estimates that there are 90,000 personal support workers in Ontario with about 57,000 providing care in long-term care homes, 26,000 in home care.  Surprisingly, they also estimate that there are now 7,000 PSWs in hospitals, quite a fair number.  

The British Columbia government created a registry for first care aides and community health workers in January 2010.


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