"When I leave work at the end of my shift I know I’ve made a difference"

Support Worker

I’ve seen clients go from being anxious and angry to calm and happy when they know they’re being listened to and treated with respect. 

This work gives me great satisfaction. Working with people gives me satisfaction. When I leave work at the end of my shift I know I’ve made a difference.

I care about people – that’s what makes me a good Support Worker. I show respect and understand that they’re individuals.

Over the years, I’ve seen how people with learning disabilities are being treated so much better in society and in care work. Our clients have their own vehicle and own flat in an amazing building. When I started out 30 years ago, lots of clients lived together.

Each person is different. I can support someone with complex needs, and then go on to support a client with low level support needs. That’s a good thing. Variety is important here.

We have eight adult clients in this service. They all need different levels of support. Some have very complex needs and use wheelchairs.

We provide care 24 hours a day for some of our clients who have high support needs. Supporting them with their personal care, their medication, their food and meals, and advocating for them. 

I make sure that clients have the right care and medication. I might take them to hospital appointments and liaise with their medical professionals when they’re really poorly. We also bear in mind family involvement and know when to step back as well.

Good support to me is involving the client. And when you get to know a client they will let you in. 

I could never change my career. I’ve got no qualifications in life, but I’m so enriched. I’m trained but it’s the clients who show me, who teach me. Getting feedback from them is amazing.

Building relationships is key. I’ve known one client here since he was 18 and he’s in his forties now! 

I’ve seen clients go from being anxious and angry to calm and happy when they know they’re being listened to and treated with respect. It’s also important to step back and observe. We don’t always get things right and that’s how we learn.

I started out as a Care Assistant about 30 years ago at a local hospital. I joined an agency because I had children – it gave me flexibility. I was offered a shift to work and on arrival I thought, “This isn’t for me.” However, I came back the next day and I have never looked back! 

I am devoted to this work. I think a service like this is empowering for people who live here. And I think it’s also good for the public to see things are moving and changing. 

When we’re out in the community with clients we’re promoting good work. We get some negativity but that can be ignored. People need more education. And seeing good support while we’re out is educating the public.

It’s the caring side of the job that I love and enjoy. Even when we’re singing or smiling, or sitting and comforting clients, I think of it like family. It’s a welcoming home. That’s what it’s about here. It’s their home.

I still love learning and going on courses and my knowledge is built up over years of experience and from other people’s experiences. 

This is a great service to work in. We all support each other. I think having a good team and good management is why the clients are happy here.

My manager has enriched me. They’ve made me feel very valued in my job and encouraged me to lead more. I’ve developed my skills and I’m not afraid to fail and not afraid to ask. For example, we use computers in this service and three years ago, I’d never used a computer! I’d always been terrified. 

We’re seeing a lot more younger people coming into the profession. New staff have come in to this service thriving and shining in their jobs, and they’ve never worked in learning disabilities before!

I love enriching staff, younger staff, with knowledge and also seeing what they bring. I’ve got two eyes but I don’t always see what they see. We learn from each other. The training they’ve had is a good and they come in, learn, and teach us! “Fresh eyes are great eyes,” I’ve always said.

 

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.