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Patient Educ Couns. 2008 May;71(2):244-50. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.01.018. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

Perspectives of personal support workers and ventilator-users on training needs.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Ventilator-users living in the community have significant personal care needs that are largely provided by paid personal support workers (PSWs). As part of a larger qualitative study exploring relationships between ventilator-users and PSWs, this project explored training experiences and needs of PSWs from the perspectives of both groups.


Individual semi-structured interviews conducted with 10 PSWs and 10 ventilator-users living in Support Service Living Units in Ontario, Canada were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed for emerging themes.


Training experiences of PSWs varied significantly from on-the-job training, to a formal college diploma in personal care. While none received formal training in the specific care needs of ventilator-users such as tracheal suctioning, ventilator monitoring and tracheotomy care, all recommended improved training in this area. Their perspectives varied on whether training should be delivered in a formalized program or through individualized on-the-job training.


Despite differing perspectives on optimal training methods for PSWs, participants identified the need for initial and ongoing training to address specific needs of ventilator-users.


We recommend the development of standardized PSW training modules adaptable for use in formal and on-site training programs that can accommodate a variety of learning styles and needs.

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