It Takes A Village: A look at the types of caregivers, their qualifications, and how they help you

Senior care involves the skills of different types of caregivers. Many people don’t know the different qualifications of the various types of caregivers and what they offer.

The following is an overview of each type of caregiver employed by Living Assistance Services and what they do for our clients.


Our caregivers have at least two years of Canadian experience working in home care or with the elderly population. They provide a number of home care services related to day-to-day living, including:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, changing bedding, vacuuming, etc.
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Shopping and errands, such as medical appointments, dining out, and church
  • Convalescence and respite care, providing visits as needed to give family members a break from caregiving
  • Companionship, which includes assisting with day-to-day activities, crafts, reading, playing cards, and other activities to help combat senior loneliness

Personal Support Worker (PSW)

Our personal support workers have successfully completed the Ontario PSW Training Program through an accredited college or not-for-profit organization.

Our PSWs, who must have a minimum of two years of work experience, have the training and experience to take on a number of home healthcare responsibilities. In addition to the services provided by caregivers, PSWs also:

  • Check and record vitals, including blood pressure, temperature, and pulse
  • Assists other members of the healthcare team if the client is hospitalized, such as mobilization and physical lifts
  • Collects urine, stool, and sputum samples
  • Assists the care recipient with monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Assists with range of motion exercises and other duties related to rehabilitation
  • Observes and reports behavioral changes, medication side effects, changes in existing conditions
  • Provides the care recipient and their family with emotional and social support services
  • Provides supportive care at end of life

Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)

All RPNs practicing in Ontario are members of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). To meet the requirements for registration, they must be a graduate from a college diploma program in practical nursing from a college approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario.

Our RPNs work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) and provide various medical and home healthcare services to patients who are medically stable, including:

  • Wound care
  • Administering medications, such as injections, oxygen, and oral and topical medications
  • Personal medical care, such as nail trimming and foot care, and oral cavity suctioning
  • Ostomy and catheter care
  • Post-operative care

Registered Nurse (RN)

An RN undergoes longer and more complex training than an RPN. All RNs in Ontario must have either a baccalaureate obtained through collaborative college-university nursing program or a four-year university nursing program. RNs are trained to look after people with medically complex needs whose condition is unpredictable.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Caregiver as a Personal Assistant

It’s a common misconception that in-home care is for people who are very ill, immobilized and unable to do anything for themselves.  In-home care agencies provide more than just advanced home care for those in dire medical condition. Many of the home care services we offer are the same responsibilities that a lot of people do for their aging parents.

If your parent is still in reasonably good health and living on their own, you may both struggle with the idea of enlisting outside help. It can be hard to justify the expense or “fuss” of home care services for someone who is still mobile and fairly independent. This is very common. Unfortunately, what often ends up happening is that the person who takes on the caregiver role quickly realizes how time-consuming even basic assistance—like grocery shopping, hairdresser appointments, and taking mom to church—can be when also trying to juggle a job, children, and their own household.

To give you an idea of what a typical week looks like for a personal assistant, below is the calendar for a  senior care recipient who does not have a chronic illness or require advanced home health care. Most of the tasks look more like those of a personal assistant than a home healthcare provider, but these are tasks that a home care agency can help with.

They include:

  • Grocery shopping and errands, such as picking up prescriptions, dry cleaning, etc.
  • Meal planning, preparation, and storage
  • Transportation to and from appointments and activities, such as church, social functions, etc.
  • Joyful companionship, such as playing cards, going for walks or to the movies, correspondence, etc.

A broad range of services to choose from and the flexibility to enlist the amount of help that best suits your needs makes caregiving easier on you and the entire family.


David Porter, CPCA,

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

The Shortage of Personal Support Workers in Canada – Is There A Solution?

With Canada’s aging population growing at record speed, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a shortage of Personal Support Workers to keep up. Baby Boomers are aging and many had fewer or no children. This not only means more seniors in need of care without children to care for them, but also fewer people of caregiving age to provide professional elderly care services in hospitals, senior care facilities, and at home.

According to Stats Canada, approximately 6 million Canadians are over 65 and the number of Canadians receiving some type of home healthcare sits at around 8 percent of the country’s total population. The estimated number of seniors requiring health care services is expected to double over the next 20 years, according to the Canadian Institute for Health.

These numbers aren’t just affecting seniors looking for private home care, but also those utilizing home healthcare services through the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). Created by the provincial government just two years ago, a client would receive their first home care visit within 10 days. That number jumped to a whopping 77 days in 2017. Though new funding from the government helped drop those wait times, they are rising steadily again with clients currently waiting an average of 28 days for service.

Making It Better

There will always be a need for caregivers and that need has already passed the breaking point.

The federal government recognizes this and has been making an effort to recruit more foreign caregivers through increased funding, incentives, and raising compensation rates. A 5-year pilot program made becoming a caregiver more appealing to those from outside of Canada by offering caregivers the opportunity to apply for permanent residency by securing and maintaining employment for two years.

Canada’s program appears to be the only one in the world that provides access to permanent residency to foreign caregivers. This incentive was put in place to make up for the less-than-desirable realities of the job, such as low pay and unpleasant, and sometimes even abusive or exploitative work conditions.

Unfortunately, many caregivers are finding out that they may not be eligible for permanent residency after being apart from their families and spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on applications, language assessments, and other requirements. The program is set to expire in November 2019 and caregivers who have not completed two years of caregiving work by that date will no longer be eligible to apply. This includes caregivers who have been here for several years, but haven’t been able to accumulate two years’ worth of work experience for reasons beyond their control, such as being let go by employers who no longer need or want care, or having to leave a toxic work environment. If a caregiver is let go or chooses to switch employers, they need to apply for a new work permit—a process that can take close to a year to complete and puts them a step closer to missing the application cut-off.

While the government has introduced new pathways to permanent residency, the requirements for eligibility have created significant new obstacles for caregivers, further adding to the shortage we’re facing now. With a job that can be unpleasant at times, low-paying, and without the guarantee of permanent status, there is little incentive for foreign caregivers to leave their families behind to come work in Canada.

Living Assistance Services takes pride in our high standards when it comes to recruiting PSWs and we maintain this quality with regular performance monitoring and ongoing training from our Registered Nurse. We offer our caregivers compensation that is reflective of the important job they do. We recognize that it takes a special person to care for others and value their commitment to a job that can be quite challenging at times. We also demonstrate our appreciation with an annual luncheon to honor our five-star caregivers and we hold them in the highest regard.

While we wait for the government to (hopefully) implement a permanent solution to this ongoing and likely permanent need for caregivers, we will continue to do our part to make it better.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care


Article Resources
Seniors in Transition: Exploring Pathways Across the Care Continuum.
Live-in Caregiver Program.
Home and community care.
Caregiver Program.