We asked Hannah Williams, a support worker at Amy Johnson House, to tell us what life as a support worker is like, and here’s what she had to say…
Amy Johnson House supports individuals that present with mental health issues such as paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and ADHD, and can provide care for residents on the autistic spectrum. It is therefore necessary for all support workers to be patient, thoughtful and open-minded in the way they interact with residents, and work in a non-judgemental manner.
As a support worker at Northern Healthcare, we provide person centred care to residents who live at our services. We empower residents to gain independence, make their own choices, work towards goals, and improve their quality of life. This is done through improving their life skills and providing emotional support. In terms of life skills, support staff aid residents to budget their money, plan meals and develop their ability to cook, clean and tidy their rooms and wash their laundry.
Emotional support can come in many forms and can be different for each resident, dependant on their needs. For one resident, it may be a 1:1 with a staff member every day to talk through what is on their mind and for another it may be spending time with them doing an activity they enjoy, which helps them to open up naturally. Support staff need to be flexible in their approach to each individual service user and build a rapport with them.
Each resident has their own keyworker. As a keyworker, you are responsible for completing your resident’s weekly planner. This includes having a 1:1 meeting with them once a week to ensure you are available to help with anything they may need such as: completing a meal planner, playing chess with them, or helping them finish some coursework. This can act as providing emotional support, for example, doing something such as taking them for a walk which may help them find the space to talk.
As mental illness is very unpredictable, a support worker’s role here can often be unpredictable. Every day can be very different. One day you may be having a nerf gun fight with a resident and teaching them to hula hoop, and another day you may be helping them to sort out an issue with the DWP, or be accompanying them to the doctors. The role requires you to quickly and creatively problem solve, act as an advocate for service users and provide activities to keep residents entertained throughout the day.
Additionally, there is an administration element to the job. It is important to document any supported minutes spent with residents on the online note system. We log any important and significant information about service users, so we can refer to it if necessary. This is also helpful to show how much support each resident requires. We complete hourly checks to note the location of each resident throughout the day and complete a risk assessment based on the last 24 hours each morning.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, all staff have been wearing appropriate PPE and carrying out regular infection prevention tasks such as hourly cleaning.
Support staff workers are currently managed by a team leader, service manager and supported by the business administrator. We liaise with the resident’s care teams, multi-disciplinary agencies, social workers and community mental health teams to provide effective and individualized care.
If the role of a support worker sounds like something that you’d be interested in, you can check out our current vacancies here.
Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash.