A support worker provides all necessary support to individuals and their families who need help – emotionally, practically, or both. They work with vulnerable people who may have mental health problems, learning difficulties, disabilities, recovering addicts, young offenders, and much more.
The work can take place in people’s own homes, a youth centre, or a residential home, and often becomes a lifestyle rather than a job, as workers get to know the individuals they support very well.
Support workers’ schedules vary person to person, and you may expect to work shifts, nights and weekends in order to ensure that care is covered around the clock. There are opportunities for full and part time work, and it is a varied, flexible role.
Duties may include:
- Helping vulnerable people with daily physical tasks such as bathing, dressing and feeding
- Helping them through difficult times by listening to their problems and offering practical help
- Offering practical help and support with tasks such as budgeting and shopping
- Creating and implementing care plans
- Dealing with the families of residents and providing support where needed
- Understanding how legislation works in order to protect yourself as well as the client
- Managing challenging or difficult behaviour
- Promoting independence and wellbeing
- Being responsible for trips and outside activities
- Administering medication
- Good listener
- Enjoys caring for people
- Capable of doing chores to a high standard
- A mentor figure to guide people and teach them life skills
- Practical and responsible
- Good communicator
- A confident leader
Qualifications and experience needed:
Any past experience of working in a health and support role is ideal yet not mandatory. It is however a good idea to gain some experience to ensure that this is a suitable role for you.
Experience could vary and be gained by doing things such as charity work, volunteering in a nursing home, or working with children who have learning disabilities.
There are no essential qualifications needed to enter into a support worker role, and a lack thereof shouldn’t affect your chances of becoming a support worker. The most important thing is your personality and the amount that you care for others and want to succeed.
There are however qualifications that you can gain before or during your role that will be extremely beneficial, such as a GNVQ in health and social care, to prepare you for the career or enhance your knowledge.
If you enjoy support work, there is a chance to specialise in a field, or study for a general social worker degree. As you gain experience or complete qualifications, you may wish to progress your career by entering into a senior/managerial role.