Becoming a support worker: is a career in care right for you?

September 17, 2019

Carers in care

Helping our clients stay home and have fun.

“Being able to help people is a good feeling; to help them be more independent and do the things they want to do. I think Taylor’s are really good; if I need anything, I go to Kirsty – she’s a brilliant manager. She’ll do anything to help you out. If you ask something, she will get back to you straight away with an answer. Any issues you do have, they deal with quickly.” Amy Kearney, Taylors of Grampound

Becoming a support worker: is a career in care right for you?

After finishing her college course in Hair and Beauty, support worker Amy Kearney found she needed a job. She hadn’t enjoyed hairdressing as much as she expected, so she began a wider search for work. Some of her friends were working in health and social care, so when Amy saw the advert with Taylor’s in the local newspaper, she decided to apply. After talking the job through with the managers, Amy joined them on the elderly care team.

Describing what it felt like, Amy explains, “Our shifts are all managed on a rota and although it can be hard, it is enjoyable. When I was on the other team, I did have some split shifts, starting early and the second shift doesn’t finish until 10pm. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that very often. When you don’t see people as often, you have to rely on your common sense more and can’t expect to get to know them as well. But it’s still a good feeling, being able to help people.”

Amy moved over to work in Taylor’s Supported Lifestyles team because she was already supporting the client (LN) on the domiciliary care side, at the time when it became obvious the client needed more support. It was clear that Amy had the skills to support this increase of care, so she and her client shifted into Supported Lifestyles. In this team, Amy focuses on supporting only one client, who needs care every day, giving her husband the freedom to go out to work.  

When our clients have complex, longer-term physical or mental needs, we recommend Supported Lifestyle care because this enables families to stay together in their own home. They benefit from familiar comforts, with a support worker helping to preserve as much of their individual independence as possible. Amy’s routine starts at 9.30am staying with her client until 4.30pm, as well as visiting her every other Sunday morning. Working in the client’s home for several years, Amy has built a positive relationship with her, having fun together whenever they can. For Amy, it gives her a regular working pattern which suits her too.

Treasuring hobbies as well as the family’s independence

Amy’s client has a condition known as functional overlay, which doctors are still learning about, because everyone who suffers with it presents different symptoms. Amy’s key role is to help Leigh manage at home, keeping her safe but also encouraging her to do as much for herself as possible. Amy says about her role, “Being with Leigh every day, I’ve learned how to deal with her fits. I’ve done a little bit of research about her condition and knowing her so well, I know how to handle each day.”

With Amy’s help, Leigh has been able to carry on with some of the activities she loves; she’s been baking and making cakes for her family’s birthdays. She even started a new hobby, getting into T-shirt printing, creating different logos and designs on them as gifts.

Working in Supported Lifestyles means adapting to different family needs, but one thing is clear for Amy: “I love my job. I enjoy going to work and look forward to seeing Leigh. We know each other inside out and it’s really laid back. They call it an enablement practitioner – I help Leigh do whatever she wants to, helping her to feel less restricted by her illness. Some days she wakes up and doesn’t recognise anyone, or she has coordination issues, not knowing what to do with her knife and fork. Other days, she can be affected by moods, responding with childlike behaviour. It’s completely natural for me to handle whatever kind of day she’s having. Things can be quite eventful when we do things together! And despite her occasional fits, we have fun. She’s really enjoying the T-shirt printing – she’s even made one for me.”

Looking after Taylor’s support workers

On a daily basis, Amy uses Taylor’s client support system – Tagtronics – to document any information and let them know how each day has gone. She finds she doesn’t often need help from the office; however, she knows she can get hold of Kirstie instantly if there’s an urgent question by phoning her or texting. Amy says, “Taylor’s are brilliant to work for and the communication is really good between the office, managers and staff. If I ever need any help, they’re there for me. I can ring Kirstie, or the office and I always feel comfortable talking to them. We have the Facebook pages too, it’s good that our service users go on there and post bits up there too.”

Although Taylor’s domiciliary team wear a uniform, Amy doesn’t - to ensure her client is always comfortable around her, like having a friend on hand. Shoes do matter; all our support workers need sensible footwear to ensure their safety which we teach first in manual handling training.

Amy comments, “It’s really good having the training centre on site because I’m quite a shy person, I’m not great with strangers. It’s good to going up to the office for the courses because I know everyone already. They make you feel comfortable and you can ask as many questions as you want, without feeling like it’s a problem if you don’t understand at first. It’s helped me because I’ve learned what I need to do the job. You leave feeling confident that you know how to handle it.”

Amy's accomplishments and training:

● Medication training

● First aid

● Infection control

● Fire safety

● Safeguarding

● Food hygiene

● Manual handling training

● Dementia care

● Level 2 Diploma in Care

● Awarded employee of the month

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