"It’s a privilege to be a part of people’s lives"

Learning Disabilities Support Worker

It’s the type of job where you can learn something every day. It’s great.

“My sister saw an advert saying, “Are you outgoing? Are you creative? Do you like people?” She said it sounded like me!

I started my career at Southdown as a Support Worker when I moved from London. I used to be a beautician but I wanted to do something completely new. I had to think about what my skills were. One of which was relating really well to adults with learning disabilities.

I support five clients at a supported living service. All our clients have learning disabilities but with various needs and some may have complex physical needs.

It doesn’t seem like work! It’s really enjoyable. It’s varied - that’s what I like about the job. We support clients to live life to the full.

I like that I can be myself at work, you are seen as an individual and your qualities are recognised.

It’s the type of job where you can learn something every day. It’s great. When you work with people, that’s where the learning happens. It takes time to get to know people. Seeing the depth about what’s going on.

I used to stammer really badly. People might be surprised to hear that because I’m always talking! Although I was an extrovert, I used to find it painful to do anything and maybe that’s why I want to help other people.

It’s very important to be a good listener in this job. To be a silent companion. Even if someone is nonverbal or has limited verbal capacity, it’s important to ask how they are. I’ve always used my intuition. Being in-tune with people is important for me and them. Sometimes you can stop negative situations arising. You can also, on the other hand, make positive situations greater.

It’s lovely to see clients interacting and making friendships. Seeing them do what everyone does. They don’t want to climb Everest, they just want to have a nice life. Helping facilitate clients to maintain relationships with their family is so important too.

Ever since I’ve been at Southdown, I’ve worked on Christmas Day. I love it. Christmas is hard for one of our clients because she lost her dad at that time and we have a poignant ritual to remember and feel the feelings. I don’t believe in hiding things. It’s cathartic for her.

Being creative in my job is really important. I’m always trying to introduce new things. I want to help make people’s lives exciting. My aim is to make life interesting for people. People want to have something to get up for in the morning.

You have to care about people to care for them. Sometimes we’re the only people clients have got. It’s a privilege to be a part of people’s lives. Share the good times and not so good times, and support them in the not so good times. That’s important.

It’s tough when a client dies. I have found it upsetting and I know that as a team we have. We’ve been allowed to grieve. It was really nice that that was acknowledged. I still miss some of our clients. I was there when one of them died. I was really pleased about being able to be there for him. That, in a way, was one of the best pieces of support I could give him. That’s like the final support.”

 

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.