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Alexandra, a Registered Nurse, from a Revera Long Term Care Home

Answering the call

Nurses, PSWs and our healthcare heroes

May is an important month in recognizing some of the frontline heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. National Nurses’ Week runs from May 10 to 16, and National Personal Support Worker (PSW) Day is May 19. Along with all frontline staff in long term care and retirement homes, these groups acted heroically during the incredible challenges of the past year, and they continue to do so. Nurses and PSWs have historically been ready to answer the call during our times of need. Once again, they demonstrated their dedication, resiliency and compassion in the worst global pandemic in more than a century.

On any given day, the workloads and expectations on nurses and PSWs are challenging. Revera’s nurses and PSWs, also known as Health Care Aides, provide care for older adults and other residents with complex health issues, including chronic and terminal illness, advanced dementia, and mobility issues. Nurses need to have acute clinical skills to recognize changes in health status of their residents, be empathetic communicators to share information with families and residents themselves. PSWs are the people who help residents with everyday life—dressing, toileting, eating and as often as possible simply socializing. They often become very close to the people they care for and form compassionate bonds, not just as caregivers, but on a much deeper level. They are often like a second family.

“Teamwork has been essential to handling the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The skills of nurses and PSWs were put to the test during the pandemic. Over the last year they soldiered through fear, uncertainty and grief. They endured constant risk, worked double shifts, some slept at the home because they didn’t have time to go home. They gave every bit of energy they could to care for others.

Teamwork has been essential to handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration between nursing staff, PSWs, culinary, recreation teams, environmental services, laundry services and other frontline employees was the actions of heroes. In May, we recognize nurses and PSWs, but it’s important to remember that there is a passionate team of colleagues that are working together and are ready to answer the call to care for others and support each other when many of them have families of their own at home. And for them, we are grateful.