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Working with Dementia patients I see a lot of language and communication problems. One of the more common problems is Aphasia, this could be imparement of speech, language comprehension, or recognition of written words, or all three. Sometimes Aphasia is also accompanied by swallowing difficulties.

There a two major types of Aphasia, Broca’s and Wernicke’s, both have their own unique characteristics.

People with Broca’s often speak in a very short and to the point manner. They can sometimes understand what others are saying, and can be aware of their own mistakes when speaking. An example of what someone may say is: “lunch now” They could mean to say “I dont want to eat lunch now.”  Or  “Are you making lunch now?” Broca’s is usually present when there is a paralysis in the right hemisphere of the brain.

Those who have Wernicke’s speak in nonsensical, long sentences with little or no meaning. they are not aware what others are saying or their own mistakes. People with Wernicke’s will invent words, this is called a “neologism.” An example of what this may sound like is: “Well, aren’t you a snoggering theatre.” Or “Mushle the reticulator up there or it won’t cumberlate!” One of the patients I care for speaks out loud all day, inventing some very interesting and sometimes entertaining combinations of words. When you speak to this patient you will get a response and can carry “conversation” though neither of you know what the heck the other is saying! I find this patient responds better to facial expressions and exaggerated body language.

I have included a couple links if you would like to read further:

Aphasia Institute Canada

Aphasia Hope Foundation


A front page article in the Toronto Star last week caught my eye, and left me feeling disappointed. The title read: “Please don’t trust me with your life… I’m a personal support worker and you have no idea how underqualified I am.”

The article goes on to talk about how there are some  courses available in the GTA that do not provide adequate training for students becoming PSW’s. Didn’t seem to mention much about the courses that do.

My first thought went to the director of the PSW program at Durham College, I fired off an email and soon had a reply. She had already written to the editor of the paper expressing her position on their story. Durham College offered me MORE than adequate training to enter my field and works closely with the Lakeridge Health Corporation to ensure training is up to date and  any necessary additions to the program are made.

How do we fix this? How do we ensure that PSW’s entering the workforce have the necessary training to provide SAFE and Holistic care for those in need? How do we monitor the care provided by PSW’s?


What is regulation? It’s a means of streamlining education, tracking and recording workplace incidents, holding PSW’s accountable for their actions and ensuring the care provided by PSW’s is professional and safe. Our nurses are regulated under the College of Nurses. Why aren’t our PSW’s?

Many of those working in the field have been doing so for a long time. If we were to be regulated this would mean additional training and education, certification, money spent. Some feel it is not a necessary step to ensuring quality of care, some may feel their job security would be threatened.

What if a PSW is not providing quality care? They may abuse a client, lose their job and then move onto the next position with no record of the abuse following them to their new employer. Scary thought?

What if a PSW’s training becomes out dated? There is no method in place that requires training to be up to date except for those implemented by the employer.

Regulation would force employers to hire only those qualified, it would ensure punishment for those providing unsafe care, streamline education, ensure up to date training, provide a means of tracking behavior… and most importantly: Ensure the safety of all those receiving care from a PSW.


I may only be a PSW but please trust me with your life,  I have the training and the tools to provide you with safe, quality care. I am educated, intelligent, compassionate and I want to say the same for ALL those who call themselves PSW. Help us push for REGULATION.