Code Of Conduct

6 Principles of OPSWA's Code Of Conduct

This content is adapted from the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Code of Conduct; the original work is available on

1. Support Workers respect the dignity of patients and treat them as individuals

  1. Support Workers treat patients with care and compassion.
  2. Support Workers show respect to patients’ culture, identity, beliefs, values and goals.
  3. Support Workers take steps to maintain patients’ privacy and dignity in the physical space where they are receiving care (D.I.P.P.S).
  4. Personal care is not judgmental and is free of discrimination.
  5. Support Workers reflect on and address their own practice and values that may affect their personal care.
  6. Support Workers do not impose their personal beliefs and biases on patients. These include political, religious and cultural beliefs. If they see other health care team members doing this, Support Workers are advised to report.
  7. When a Support Worker’s own personal beliefs conflict with a patient’s care plan, the support worker provides safe, compassionate and timely care to those patients, until other arrangements are in place.

2. Support Workers work together to promote patient well-being

  1. Support Workers provide clear and timely information to patients. Support Workers talk to patients in ways patients understand, inviting their feedback and relaying to nursing supervisors.
  2. Support Workers strive to meet patients’ language and communication needs.
  3. Support Workers ask for consent from appropriate decision-makers when patients are unable to do so.
  4. Support Workers acknowledge patients’ right to express concerns. Support Workers respond by working with patients to resolve concerns.
  5. Support Workers advocate for patients and help them access appropriate health care.
  6. Support Workers understand there may be gaps impacting patient care and health outcomes in some communities. They work together with health care teams to address these gaps.
  7. Support Worker care is timely. When this is not possible, Support Workers explain the reasons for this delay to patients.

3. Support Workers maintain patients’ trust by providing safe and competent care

  1. Support Workers identify themselves, their first name, last name, title and their role to patients and must display or provide evidence of CANSWA or provincial chapter membership badge.
  2. Support Workers use appropriate knowledge, skill and judgment when assessing the health needs of patients.
  3. Support Workers recognize and work within the limits of their knowledge, skill and judgment and their legal scope of practice.
  4. Support Workers seek advice and collaborate with the health care team to uphold safe patient care.
  5. Support Workers maintain and continually improve their competence. They reflect on their practice and set learning goals annually in CANSWA educational development.
  6. Support Workers maintain complete, accurate and timely documentation in their workplaces.
  7. Support Workers are accountable to, and provide care under, relevant laws and CANSWA standards of practice.

4. Support Workers work respectfully with colleagues to best meet patients’ needs

  1. Support Workers are professional with colleagues and treat them with respect, including on social media.
  2. Support Workers collaborate and communicate with colleagues in a clear, effective, professional and timely way.
  3. Support Workers work together with other health care experts to improve their patients’ care.
  4. Support Workers support, mentor and teach members of the health care team, including students.
  5. Support Workers take action to stop unsafe, incompetent, unethical or unlawful practice, including any type of abuse.

5. Support Workers act with integrity to maintain patients’ trust

  1. Support Workers protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients’ personal health information.
  2. Support Workers do not share patient information on social media.
  3. Support Workers take prompt action to prevent and protect patients from harm.
  4. Support Workers do not accept gifts from patients, unless it harms the professional relationship with patients.
  5. Support Workers do not act as powers of attorney or substitute decision-makers for patients.
  6. Support Workers declare any conflict of interest that could affect their judgment. This includes a Support Workers personal, financial or commercial interest.
  7. Support Workers maintain integrity. They do not use their position to promote or sell products for personal gain.
  8. Support Workers maintain professional boundaries with patients.
  9. Support Workers do not engage in any sexual relationship with patients while caring for them. This rule stays in effect for two years after the end of the Support Workers-patient relationship.

6. Support Workers maintain public confidence in the Support Worker profession

  1. Support Workers are accountable for their own actions and decisions.
  2. Support Workers respect the property of their patients and employers.
  3. Support Workers clearly communicate to patients the details of care or a service they intend to provide.
  4. Support Workers advocate for improving the quality of their work setting to support safe patient care.
  5. Support Workers have a duty to report any error, behaviour, conduct or system issue that affects patient safety.
  6. Support Workers do not practice when impaired by any substance.
  7. Support Workers are responsible for maintaining their health. They seek help if their health affects their ability to practice safely


Boundaries: The points when a relationship changes from professional and therapeutic to unprofessional and personal. Therapeutic Support Workers-patient relationships put patients’ needs first. Crossing a boundary means a Support Workers is misusing their power and trust in the relationship to meet personal needs, or behaving in an unprofessional manner with the patient. Crossing a boundary can be intentional or unintentional

Collaborate: Work cooperatively together

Colleagues: Support Workers, other health care providers and students who are involved in the patient’s care

Competence: A Support Workers ability to consistently apply the required knowledge, skill and judgment for safe, ethical and providing effective personal care.

Culture: Learned values, beliefs, norms and way of life that influence a person’s thinking, decisions and actions

D.I.P.P.S: This acronym refers to Dignity – Independence – Preference – Privacy – Safety

Patient: An individual, family, group, community or population receiving care, including, but is not limited to, “clients” or “residents”

Personal gain: Advantage or benefit, financial or otherwise that a Support Workers receives. A personal gain can be monetary (cash, gifts and rewards) or provide the Support Workers other personal advantages. A personal gain includes interests of the Support Workers family, charitable causes or organizations the Support Workers supports. It does not include a Support Workers\ salary or benefits

Personal health information: Any identifying information about patients’ physical or mental health, including information about the health history of their family

Social media: Community-based online communication tools (websites and applications) used for interaction, content sharing and collaboration. Types of social media include blogs or microblogs (personal, professional or anonymous), discussion forums, message boards, social networking sites and content sharing websites

Standards of Practice: CANSWA’s expectations for how a competent Support Workers should perform. Standards of practice contribute to public protection

Substitute decision-maker: Person, identified by the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 who makes a treatment decision for someone who cannot make their own decision

*This content is adapted from the College of Nurses of Ontario’s Code of Conduct; the original work is available on