"We’re helping people live to their full potential”

Learning Disability Support Worker

We try to involve everyone in everything. We bring them into an activity even if they can’t fully participate. No matter what their disability is, we will tailor activities to them.

I was a chef for 13 years, but then four or five years ago I had an interaction with someone who had Asperger’s. I was able to communicate with him and calm him down. I googled the condition, developed an interest, and decided to leave cheffing.

I’m a support worker for clients who have severe health needs and learning disabilities. All the clients we support need a very high level of care.

I’ve been at Southdown for nearly two years. I’d worked elsewhere as a support worker and that job opened the door for me. The company sparked an interest but Southdown was the organisation that could deliver the training I needed.

We use Makaton in this service. Makaton reinforces verbal communication with physical sign language. We also use objects of reference and pictures to communicate.

We all have Positive Behaviour Support training here and what I find fascinating is learning why people behave the way they do. I like to learn about people, I like to know how people tick.

If you can control your emotions and the way you react, you can change a situation completely. Until you take a step back and take a look at the way you conduct yourself you don’t really realise. It’s very transferrable to other areas of your life and the world. Everything we do in Positive Behaviour Support training is in the real world.

Most of us come from different care environments and we can learn from each other – everyone’s got an input. We’re constantly learning from our teams and the clients.

I’ve learnt that I’ve got tolerance, that I can do things I didn’t think I’d be able to do – for example, personal care. We’re all the same. We’re all people.

I’ve developed my listening skills and observation skills. You’ve got to listen and reflect. And by doing that I’m able to support the clients well.

It’s a very intense job. This is a busy service. I don’t get flustered or stressed - I enjoy it.

It’s definitely work where you can have a career. Lots of our managers started off as support workers. I’ve got future goals, I’m not going anywhere yet!

We try to involve everyone in everything. We bring them into an activity even if they can’t fully participate. No matter what their disability is, we will tailor activities to them.

We do lots of hand massages and lots of sensory work – using sensory curtains, lights, foot spa – shiny bright rattley things! It’s stimulation. We hope they enjoy it.

We’ve played table tennis and bowling and we go out into the community – each client has their own vehicle. We do shopping, we go to the butterfly farm, the beach, we even go to festivals. Anywhere we can get a wheelchair, we’ll go there!

Why should someone work here? Why not?! If it interests you, try it!

It’s genuinely fulfilling. You need to care enough to look after our clients, but be objective enough to be an advocate for their needs. It’s nice seeing the guys develop. I just enjoy it.

In care work you play a significant part in a person’s life. And that’s a good thing! You develop relationships with people. And the clients are fun, they’re honest – it makes a change! They have amazing personalities. If you’re having a miserable day, you can spend ten minutes with one of them and you’ll feel better.

You are a part of their life - you’re supporting them to live their life. Everything we do at home, they do at home. We’re helping people live to their full potential.

 

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.