Jodi is a personal support worker (PSW) at CBI Home Health in St. Catharines, Ont. Her caregiving instincts first showed at five years old, when she took care of her mother who wasn’t feeling well one morning.
“I made her orange juice and toast, fixed her a bowl of cereal and put a cloth on her head. It was then she told me I need to go into healthcare. She wasn’t surprised when I became a PSW,” says Jodi.
Now, Jodi often takes on the responsibilities of many other healthcare workers as a PSW. She describes her daily schedule, her responsibilities, and the expectations that come with her job.
“I primarily help the elderly and disabled people with their daily activities. I start my day at a retirement home, where I spend two hours getting my clients cleaned and dressed for the day, and getting them to breakfast,” says Jodi.
“Then, I go into homecare, where I spend an hour at a time at each of my client’s homes. I have a similar routine here, but I also give them medication, physiotherapy, and occupational and behavioural therapy, among other forms of care. I’m the ‘doctor’, ‘psychologist’, the best friend, the confidante, and even sometimes become like family for them.”
“We’re expected to do all of that alone. When you’re at a client’s home, you have to be whatever it is they need you to be, and you can’t call on anyone to help you.”
When it comes to making changes in the workplace, however, Jodi was able to confide in SEIU Healthcare to stand up to her employers about her goals for workers’ rights and client care:
“Every person I ever met at SEIU Healthcare has been supportive and has rallied behind me when I needed it,” says Jodi. “When I decided to bring the union into my company, it was a huge boost for my self-esteem. It’s nerve-wracking standing up to your manager, but I didn’t like the way the management staff was treating and training our immigrant workers. I also want my clients taken care of; it’s not just money for me. I don’t care that clients are a source of income – they’re human beings. I’m here to take care of human beings, and I want my employers to think of them as human beings and not as a paycheque.”