Meet Henry, a support worker assisting adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Read about Henry’s job and why it doesn’t feel like work because it’s so much fun!
I always wanted to work in health and social care.
From an early age my parents provided residential respite care for adults with learning disabilities. Having some family members with physical disabilities has meant I’ve always had a caring nature and been very respectful of all individuals and their needs. As a young person I enjoyed seeing my parents interact with people with behaviours I knew nothing about, which I found so interesting. I wanted to learn more. Because of my family upbringing I was interested in health and social care at school, and when my Grandad passed away when I was 14, I spent a lot of time with my Nan, caring for her as her health deteriorated. I completed my level 2 NVQ in health and social care in sixth form, and then started working as a support worker when I was 18. I continued to learn and completed my level 3 NVQ in health and social care.
At the start of my career I did staff bank work which really enabled me to see the wide variety of roles and the different needs of a range of individuals. Although people may have the same disability or condition, their needs are often very different. I enjoyed working across different settings; it helped me to find out the area I really wanted to go into.
My job is so much fun, I sometimes wonder if I’m actually working!
I currently support three adults aged between 24 and 55, who have learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. As I’ve supported these individuals over many years, I’ve built great relationships with them. I support them to live the life they wish and promote their independence. This can include a range of activities such as swimming, foot golf, farm work, going to the cinema, eating out in restaurants, and going to church. One of the people I support enjoys playing computer games, which I also love doing in my spare time, which makes me wonder if I’m actually working! For all the individuals I support, it’s fun for me to support them having fun.
Building relationships is an important part of the role.
Building relationships with the people I support is so important to help with managing their behaviour. Structure and continuity are key; a stable staff team working together really supports individuals to reach their goals. One of the people I support is now the happiest I’ve ever seen him which is such an amazing feeling – this is why I love my job. Supporting people to take what might seem like small steps makes a huge difference; helping them to find ways to overcome obstacles to make their goals achievable is really rewarding.
My favourite part of the job is seeing the reactions of people I support when they achieve something; having a positive impact on someone else’s life has a positive impact on mine. It’s such a fun role, you can have tough days like in every job, but the good days outweigh the bad a million to one.
Sometimes the role can be tough; some of the people I support have very challenging behaviours. If I’m having a difficult or stressful day, I always have the support of the team around me, so I have a good support network.
If you’re kind and caring give it a go – you won’t know until you try it!
To be a support worker you need to kind, caring, have good communication skills, be confident and outgoing, and you must have a sense of humour! I think my role is really respected and people often say to me they couldn’t do my job, but if you have a caring nature and enjoy supporting people to live the life they want, this could be the role for you.
If you want to progress in support work, there are lots of opportunities with clear career pathways. If you’re thinking about applying for a role you should do it; you’ll get lots of help and support along the way and it’s such a satisfying job – supporting people to reach their goals has a positive impact on my life too.
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