Personal Support Worker

The original PSW program standards were developed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario, and the Ontario Community Support Association produced the original curriculum package.  The NACC curriculum was developed in response to member requests to adhere to the highest standards.  The current program, while originally based on the MOHLTC curriculum, has evolved to keep pace with the needs of the clients and PSWs.  The program has recently been updated to meet the new 2015 MOHLTC standards.  NACC has partially completed the RICC application for its’ members and it is ready for distribution.  Each college will need to input information relevant to its own location and submit it to MTCU for approval before the new program can be offer to students.  Colleges will have until December 31, 2015 to submit the new application for free.  After that time, a fee will be charged by the MTCU.

The NACC program content, standards and guidelines, combined with the clinical component of the program, ensure that the graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful as a Personal Support Worker.

The NACC PSW program is currently being offered in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  While the name for the unregulated health care worker changes from province to province, the NACC program has common core standards that can be used in each province.  Specific provincial content can be added to accommodate provincial requirements.

The PSW will develop a skill/knowledge level that includes basic care and social service training.  The scope of responsibilities for a Personal Support Workers is as follows:

  • Co-operates with all members of the health team
  • Promotes safety and works in a safe manner
  • Assists with walking, movement and positioning
  • Assists with mechanical and physical lifts and/or transfers
  • Assists with all aspects of personal hygiene, including laundry related tasks
  • Assists with meal preparation, grocery shopping, feeding, dietary planning, food handling
  • Answers call bells
  • Checks and records vital signs
  • Teaches life skills
  • Assists with range of motion exercise and other rehabilitative measures
  • Practices universal precautions and maintains a clean working environment
  • Provides emotional and social support services to care-receivers and their families
  • Assists with oxygen therapy, hot and cold applications
  • Is aware of common allergies and related first aid measures
  • Works as a supportive care worker for palliative care and hospice patients
  • Observes and reports clinical and treatment findings, behavioural changes and changes in ongoing conditions.
  • Maintains records, documents procedures

The NACC Personal Support Worker program provides quality education and training for aspiring PSWs.  The NACC PSW Program contains the content to be taught, learning outcomes and skills competencies required to be effective as a Personal Support Worker.

Topics Covered in the NACC PSW Program:

  • PSW Foundations
  • Safety and Mobility
  • Body Systems
  • Assisting a Person with Personal Hygiene
  • Abuse
  • Household Management, Nutrition and Hydration
  • Care Planning/Restorative Care/Documentation/Working in the Community
  • Assisting the Family
  • Assisting the Dying Person
  • Assisting with Medications
  • Cognitive/mental Health Issues and Brain Injuries
  • Health Conditions
  • Clinical Placement – Community
  • Clinical Placement – Facility

Final PSW Examination:

The NACC final examination evaluates the theory component of the training and determines whether the candidate has the required level of knowledge to do the job safely and effectively.  The external setting for the exam and marking provide unbiased and consistent evaluation of adherence to NACC PSW standards.

The Examination Services Committee of NACC was formed to monitor and review the Personal Support Worker examination system.  The Examination Services Committee also serves as a resource for member colleges offering support and advice for delivery of the program.

Examinations are developed by the Committee with input from the industry and Common Standards Group Colleges and are offered online with the NACC.

This standardized curriculum and third party examinations not only demonstrate NACC’s commitment to promote national standards but also facilitate credit transfer and mobility for students seeking further qualifications.

NACC Certificate and Pin:

Successful students are awarded a numbered certificate and correspondingly-numbered pin identifying the graduate as having successfully passed the theory portion of the PSW program.

Why You Should Hire a NACC PSW Graduate:

Benefits to potential employers hiring graduates of the Common Standards Group Personal Support Worker Program include:

  • Assurance that graduates have been trained to meet established learning outcomes and program standards
  • Assurance that the graduate has the knowledge required to do the job as verified by third party testing
  • Assurance that the skills required to do the job have been verified in clinical settings prior to graduation

Key Elements of the Program:

Entrance Requirements:

  • Grade 12 or equivalent admission requirement in addition to Medical Certificate of fitness to complete the program
  • Literacy Test to be completed by all applicants
  • Clear police records check (Vulnerable), Standard First Aid and Basic Rescuer CPR

Program Length:

  • 390 hours of classroom instruction
  • 310 hours of clinical placement – a) supervised on site by the college instructor in both institutional and community sites and b) precepted by the host supervisor in both institutional and community sites
  • Skills Passbook to be completed on placement

Instructor Requirements:

  • Primary Instructor is a Registered Nurse with 2 years Canadian experience

Text books:

  • Mosby’s Canadian Textbook for the Support Worker: Third Edition, 2013. Sorrentino, Remmert, Wilk and Newmaster.
  • or  Lippincott’s Textbook for Personal Support Workers.  Canadian Edition, 2011. McGreer and Carter.
  • The Anatomy and Physiology Learning System: Forth Edition, 2011. Applegate.
  • Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers.  2014. Katherine Murray, Life and Death Matters.
  • CPA Medical Problem A.C.T.I.O.N Plan
  • NACC PSW Skills Passbook.
  • Internet based Resources and Instructor Handouts.

NACC Final Theory Examination:

  • All students write the NACC final theory examination at the end of the placement.  Maximum of 3 writings.  This is a quality assurance mechanism for the college, the student and NACC.


NACC would like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the NACC PSW Advisory Committee, without whom this would have not been possible:

  • Ann Robinson – ARC Advantage
  • Janet Szczukocki – Care Partners
  • Jeffrey Miller – Medix College of Healthcare
  • Brenda Miklos – Medix College of Healthcare

For a complete list of member colleges offering the NACC Personal Support Worker (PSW) program, click here.