“Being a Personal Support Worker is Amazing”: Q&A with Kelli O’Ceallaigh
What is it like to be a personal support worker at Carecor? We asked Kelli O’Ceallaigh, a PSW in Hamilton, Ont., to share what her typical day is like, what she enjoys about her work, and how to know if being a PSW is the right career for you.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Kelli. How did you become a personal support worker?
For many years, I provided personal support, informally, to family and friends who needed it. During the pandemic, I was working for an auto maker in the parts department. My sister told me about a free, accelerated PSW training program at Ontario colleges. I agreed it was time for a career change, so I signed up—and the rest is history! I graduated in November 2021 and joined Carecor in December.
Why did you decide to work at Carecor?
A lot of reasons. The hours are flexible, so I could pick my schedule. Carecor offers benefits, and the pay rate is great compared to what I was seeing elsewhere.
Why is flexibility in scheduling important to you?
I’m a PSW, but I also have my own health issues. I have Crohn’s disease, so I go to medical appointments, and I needed flexibility to navigate that. And, in addition to being a full-time caregiver in the workplace, I’m a full-time caregiver at home—my husband was injured in a car accident, so I provide personal support services for him daily. Carecor is very accommodating. Many employers say they are, but Carecor has actually come through and worked with me.
How do you schedule your shifts?
The scheduling portal is super-easy to use—you log in and click your available days and hours, and they’ll help fill it. There’s also a section where you can pick up more shifts. Again, it’s that flexibility—flexibility is king! It almost feels like you work for yourself, but at the same time, you have all of this support from the company.
What do your job responsibilities include?
In a typical 12-hour shift, my job duties include helping patients with clothing changes, showering, teeth brushing, grooming and, for those who are incontinent, perineal care including brief changes. I also help serve and feed patients at each meal; change bedding and do laundry; stock clinical supplies; and help nurses and occupational therapists with moving patients and other tasks. Before I leave for the night, I help as many patients as possible into their pyjamas—a lot of places are short-staffed right now, so I do what I can to support the evening staff.
What do you enjoy most about working for Carecor?
There’s honestly so much to like. It’s a great company to work for—and I’m not someone who’s easily convinced!
I’ve really enjoyed working with Carecor’s staff. They care not only about the patients but also your well-being. If you have questions or scheduling issues or you need further training, you can always reach out and they’ll help. Whenever any kind of issue pops up, I love that I can quickly reach somebody who can help sort it out. And if there’s a safety concern—like if a care facility doesn’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand—Carecor takes it seriously and makes sure it’s looked into.
It’s nice to feel appreciated and not like just another number on the employee roster. Carecor is a large company, but it doesn’t feel like a large company.
What personality or character traits do you think are important for a PSW?
If people are always coming to you for advice, or you find yourself wanting to help whenever a situation arises—whether it’s health-related or emotion-related—personal support work is something you might want to explore. It’s literally personally helping to support other people’s needs. I find that a lot of PSWs do that naturally.
It’s definitely fulfilling work. I go home at the end of the day feeling good about helping my patients. If you enjoy watching people thrive or feel accomplished or have a good day, or even just making someone smile, this is a job to consider.
It’s hard work—it can be very physically and emotionally taxing. There are tough days, but honestly, if you have a passion for helping people, the good days really propel you through the bad ones. Sometimes patients get sick. Sometimes patients pass on, but I truly feel that it’s a privilege to be there, providing support and care in someone’s last moments. If that’s something you believe, too, being a PSW is definitely a route to consider.
What else do you want people to know about being a PSW?
Being a personal support worker is amazing. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I do. While I do plan to go to nursing school eventually, being a PSW is a full-on profession that’s gaining more and more of the respect it deserves. I want people to know that we’re hardworking and caring, and we need more of us out there. If you’re thinking about becoming a PSW, check it out! Talk to some of us, ask us about our jobs, and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Learn more about becoming a Carecor personal support worker.