Do You Need a PSW Certification to Be a Good Caregiver?

Allison Carroll
Allison Carroll
September 19, 2023
Reading Time: 3 min
Banner of Spark caregivers with young child, Care, Caregiving, Client Care, Personal Support Workers, PSWs, Community Resources

10 years ago, if someone had offered me a job as a caregiver, my response would have been, “Sorry, I’m not a certified Personal Support Worker.” Back then, I thought you had to be a PSW, not just to be a caregiver, but a good caregiver.

Well, after 8 years of being a caregiver and providing leadership, training and support to other caregivers, it’s clear I was wrong. Caregiving is so much more than PSW training.

Caregiving is cooking a meal for someone who was just in a car accident.

It’s providing support at a medical appointment for someone who gets easily overwhelmed with details.

It’s helping someone learn how to navigate public transportation.

It’s taking a kid for a fun outing so their parents can get some much-needed respite.

For some people, it’s simply being present with them in case something happens they’re not equipped to handle alone.

My first client with Spark had recently been in a car accident and was managing depression and chronic pain as a result. Her care involved meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and just being engaged and present with her. 

No PSW certification required.

My next client was a young teenager who had also been in a car accident and suffered a brain injury. He needed rehabilitation assistance and help managing his emotions. His care involved morning and after-school routines, transportation, and strategies to help with emotional regulation and impulse control.

No PSW certification required.

So, if PSW certification is not required to be a good caregiver, then what is?

At Spark, here are a few qualities that we look for in a caregiver:

Caregivers need to have empathy, photo of caregiver holding hands with client


Before anything else, people who request care need to feel heard and valued. They need you to see them as a person, not a diagnosis. Their basic needs are just like yours and mine; they may just need a bit of help meeting them. A good caregiver is empathetic, so they understand this innately. 

Caregivers need to have the ability to connect, photo of caregiver with senior client

Ability to Connect

Can you chat with anyone about anything? Can you connect with someone at their level, whatever that level may be? A good caregiver can form a genuine, authentic connection with people from all walks of life.

Caregivers need to have dedication, photo of caregiver arriving at a client's home


Are you fully committed? A good caregiver reliably shows up, but they’re also fully present for every shift, even when they’re not having the best day.

Caregivers need to be kind, photo of caregiver with young child


Do you treat people the way you want to be treated? Above all else, a good caregiver is kind. They provide care because they genuinely care about people.

Caregivers need to have experience, photo of caregiver with senior clients working on recreational therapy


Lastly, we do look for some experience in healthcare. It could be in Developmental Services Work (DSW), Recreation Therapy, Caregiving, Autism Sciences or related disciplines. Personal lived experience counts. Many of our caregivers joined us because they have experience providing care for a friend or family member who has unique needs.

I’m still with Spark all these years later because we’re building a community full of the kind of person I just described: kind, empathetic, dedicated and able to connect. If that sounds like you, reach out to us – we have new opportunities all the time. 

The bottom line is, that training and certifications are valuable, but they’re not everything. When it comes to caregiving, there are some skills that can’t be taught.


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