"I’d always wanted to come back to this work eventually because it was the job I loved the most"
Everybody’s been really kind, people were very welcoming. My manager was very understanding about me coming from a different background, not having worked for a long time. He was very reassuring to me and constantly told me I had the skills and gave me continuous feedback.
I’m a support worker for clients who have profound learning disabilities. That involves supporting people with their personal care and eating, using the community, going to the theatre, going for a picnic – all those sorts of things.
I think it’s a lovely job. It’s quite intimate really – cos you’re in their home. I think it’s the smallest things that make the biggest differences, like waking up a client who has a huge smile on their face.
All clients here are non-verbal. It doesn’t mean they can’t understand you. But they might have more difficulty in understanding. People think speech is the main form of communication but it’s not. We use Makaton, objects of reference, and sometimes use pictures. You have to be patient. You have to give time.
I’ve learnt so much in the time I’ve been here. I was so nervous when I first came because I’d not worked for a long time. My career break from adult social care was about 25 years.
I’d always wanted to come back to this work eventually because it was the job I loved the most. I used to work with the NHS and Social Services.
I’d seen the job advertised a few times but I didn’t have the courage to apply. I didn’t think they would want me, cos I didn’t have NVQs and I hadn’t worked in this area for ages.
You can lose confidence when you’re at home with children. It’s very easy to hide behind - you know what you’re doing with them. But having children gives you skills. You know how to manage, you know how to work in a budget and organise. There’s lots of things you can do that you take for granted. Being at home gives you relevant skills and this job has shown me they are transferable.
I feel like my life is much more balanced now. But I don’t regret the career gap.
Everybody’s been really kind, people were very welcoming. My manager was very understanding about me coming from a different background, not having worked for a long time. He’s been very supportive in general. He was very reassuring to me and constantly told me I had the skills and gave me continuous feedback.
It’s quite an overwhelming job at first because there’s a lot to learn – this is the sort of job that you’re learning all the time - but the training helps you feel better prepared to do the job. It’s been really good.
It’s a very positive place here. It’s the people that make it – not just the clients, but the staff. It can be fun.
This is an environment I’ve always enjoyed. No two days are the same - I couldn’t work in an office.
Everything I’ve done is people-based. I love people. I love differences. That’s interesting to me.
What makes a good support worker is someone who is able to treat people how they want themselves or their own family to be treated.
You’re doing what you need to do to support people to live a fulfilling life for them. That is the most important thing. That is the essence for me.
We have many employment opportunities we can offer to skilled, caring people who embrace our values. Please visit our Southdown Jobs page to see our current positions.
Southdown manages supported living services across Sussex. Supported living is where an individual owns or rents their own home and has control over the support they get and how they live their lives. Accommodation and support is provided separately. It can be very different for different people. For one person, supported living might be a few hours of support a week to enable them to live independently by themselves in a rented flat. For another it may be around the clock support in a shared house or self-contained flat.