Published on May 19, 2021
Today is Personal Support Worker (PSW) Day! These unsung heroes have been incredibly helpful during the pandemic, but their hard work and talents have long been at the heart of the amazing care and services we provide to our Community Members. To shine a little well-deserved light on these important Team Members, we sat down with V!VA Mississauga’s Wellness Manager, Sherry Marmeto.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your role at V!VA Retirement Communities.
I have been working here at V!VA Retirement Communities, at V!VA Mississauga, since September 2011 and am currently serving as the Wellness Manager.
Wow – ten years! That’s a long time!
It certainly is – but it doesn’t feel like it. Since I’ve started here, I have had the pleasure of being a Team Member across all of our Teams. That’s given me a pretty well-rounded view of how the Community works together to serve our Community Members, especially, now, as the Wellness Manager.
Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The Wellness Manager is responsible for the well-being of our Community Members from the point of view of healthcare. I work with a great team, whom we have taken to calling the Wellness Warriors, that includes healthcare professionals, including Personal Support Workers (PSWs).
What is a PSW, and what do PSWs do?
A PSW, as the name implies, helps and assists our Community Members with their personal care, housekeeping, and what we call activities of daily living – things like buttoning up shirts, or tying shoelaces – anything where fine motor skills might be impacted. And PSWs are always making sure our Community Members feel safe, happy, and comfortable.
How closely do you work with PSWs?
I work very closely with all of them to ensure they have the support they need in their work with regular check-ins that keep us on the same page with how we help our Community Members. I have stepped on the floor with them many times and literally worked alongside them providing assistance as they provide the care. Believe it or not, during those check-ins, they take the time to check in on me and ask if I am ok or if I need anything!
I would not be able to do it without any of my Wellness Team Members! We are a family, and our Team dynamic has been so important throughout the obstacles we have faced and continue to face. Our PSWs really do have compassionate personalities.
Why are PSWs important for the health and wellness of our Community Members? Can you provide some examples?
PSWs are the backbone of our Wellness Warriors, as they help and assist with our Community Members’ well-being not only physically, but also mentally and holistically – morning, noon, and night. At times, they spend more time with Community Members than with their own families; they spend one-on-one time with our Community Members, walking with them, talking with them, ensuring their care plans are followed, or by simply sharing a story. They have given support not only to the Community Members, but also to their families as well.
Thanks to the current pandemic, there have been some big changes in how retirement homes have had to provide care and services to Community Members. How have our PSWs had to adapt, and face these challenges?
Our PSWs have actually stepped up to the plate in the area we needed them the most: maintaining the mental and emotional health of our Community Members by making deeper connections on a personal level. They have gone out of their way to help bring joy to our Community Members, through simply being there and listening and spending more personal time. Another change is the cross-collaboration with other Teams. Our PSWs have worked with the Lifestyles Team Members to coordinate participation in activities. For example: dressing up for occasions like Pyjama Day, and have even taken time out of their busy day to recognize Community Member birthdays by gathering together at their suite door and singing Happy Birthday!
How will the role of a PSW be different on the other side of this pandemic?
Our PSWs have proven themselves invaluable, especially during a crisis. They will come out of this even more prepared and stronger in every way – particularly in emotional and mental support. They are a big part of our success and I am very proud of all of them.
What message would you like to send to your PSWs on PSW Day?
You have all sacrificed many hours of personal and family time to work double shifts, fill in absences due to COVID–19 safety protocols, ensure our Community Members are safe – and have faced this pandemic with so much courage. You are a testament to our COVID–19 free Community. I know how tiring, and overwhelming this can be – but you always come to work ready every single time with a smile on all your faces! I can speak for all of us when I say thank you for everything. I am lucky to have you on my Team. You are heroes, and are an inspiration to us all!
They definitely are. Thanks for speaking with us today!