Support Workers - The job role
There aren’t many healthcare jobs that are more challenging than the job of a Support Worker, but the people working in this field are some of the most dedicated and committed in their line of work.
Support Workers need specialist skills and experience, but they can make a real difference to people’s lives by enabling them to become more independent and confident in their own homes and communities. As such, Support Worker jobs provide a vital service in the healthcare and support sector.
Support Workers are sometimes known as Community Support Workers, Home Care Support Workers or Mental Health Workers. The job of a Support Worker is extremely varied, as it involves caring for people with a range of mental health or learning disability problems, such as Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Down’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or depression.
Essential Skills for a Support Worker
Essential skills for a Support Worker include:
- The ability to cope with people from all walks of life who are suffering with mental health or learning disability problems
- The ability to understand and empathize with the people in care, even when it might appear that the problem is self-inflicted or self-imposed
- The ability to offer emotional support (such as listening and guidance) as well as practical support, and knowing when the right type of support is needed
Support Workers have to be literate and numerate, must be organized, efficient, kind, non-judgmental and patient, as well as good communicators and great carers. The job of a Support Worker is perfect for people who like caring for the needs of others. Although no specific qualifications are needed, most Support Workers hold at least a GNVQ in Health and Social Care, but some positions offer the chance to work towards achieving this qualification whilst working.
Roles and Responsibilities
Support Workers are sometimes based in clinics, nursing homes and residential homes, but often they are mobile and care for clients in supported housing. Support Workers in supported housing will care for the full range of a client’s needs, including washing, bathing, getting in and out of bed, assistance to the toilet, household chores and tasks, making meals, shopping, or simply spending time with the client and offering a friendly chat. The Support Worker's role in a residential home differs slightly, and whilst a lot of the duties will be the same, there will be more emphasis on facilitating group sessions were residents are encouraged to socialize with each other.
Working hours for a Support Worker can be quite demanding, especially if they are caring for clients in their own homes, and often the job will involve evening and weekend work and sleep-in duties to provide full 24-hour care for the client. Support Workers are also expected to liaise with GPs, doctors, nurses, social workers and psychiatrists to assess the overall physical and mental needs of the client.