What's it like to be a support worker?
The role of a support worker is varied, challenging and rewarding, and one where no two days are ever the same. Support workers are at the heart of everything we do at Lifeways - providing the very best support, encouraging individuals to follow their dreams, live independently and achieve their personal goals. Each person we support has differing needs, which means that each support worker’s responsibilities are never exactly the same.
Hear from our support workers
We’re very fortunate to have so many passionate, caring and dedicated support workers at Lifeways.
Brooke came to us after working as a restaurant manager for many years, and joined as a support worker at Whitwood Grange before working her way up to team leader within two years.
“I wanted to do something more rewarding,” she said. “Something that could help me help other people.”
Brooke didn’t have any care qualifications before she started at Lifeways but had many transferable skills from her previous role within customer services, along with the personal experience of having family members with similar needs to the people Lifeways supports. Alongside her day job, Brooke has also been encouraged to maximise her potential professionally and study for further NVQ qualifications in healthcare, with support from her manager.
One of the people Brooke supports is Mark, who moved into a Lifeways supported living service to develop his independence. Over time, Brooke and her team have encouraged Mark to pursue his interests, including baking, caring for his fish and building plant boxes for his garden - an activity he loves most.
Whilst the responsibilities of a support worker will vary from day to day, the primary focus never changes. They provide support in every aspect of a person's life, including their mental health, to ensure each person is living a happy and fulfilled life doing the things they love most.
“I love working at Lifeways because every day is different. I’ve been able to put my passion and drive into something and see outcomes at the end of it,” Brooke said.
Geoff is another member of our team who joined Lifeways 13 years ago, and works alongside his mum and sister. "It's a proper family affair - I met my wife here!" he said. Geoff’s autistic son is one of the reasons he chose to work within the care sector, with a drive to learn as much as he could in order to support him.
As a team leader, Geoff also provides support to colleagues. His days are varied, from supporting people to go out in the community to mentoring colleagues on support planning. "What gets me up on a cold and wet morning is the people I support and my team. I love doing this job and I can’t see myself doing anything else,” he said.
Ashley started a career in care after spending 30 years as a professional magician. He is a support worker for Charlie, and enjoys how his job challenges him to think differently.
When Ashley first met Charlie, who is non verbal, he spent time listening and observing him to understand how Charlie was trying to communicate.
“I quickly learnt that he really enjoys music. If I woke Charlie by singing, he was happy and would get up, dressed and join in with others. When it’s time to go for a walk I sing ‘we’re off to see the wizard’, Charlie sings along and is happy to go out. It’s amazing to connect with him like this and we have formed a really special bond,” he said.
What is it like to be a support worker?
Support workers aren’t just an important part of people’s lives at home, but also when they’re out and about in their local community. Many of our support workers love the variety that the job brings - one day you might be taking a group out bowling, you might be helping someone enjoy a spot of gardening, or you could be supporting an individual with cooking a new recipe for dinner.
“What I enjoy doing with the guys is very much what I enjoy doing at home by myself or with my friends. I love cooking with them, going to the pub to watch football, and then going home to watch a film together. It’s really rewarding,” said one of our support workers.
At Lifeways, we try to match individuals to support workers with similar interests, ensuring that both parties are getting the most from their days spent together. But it’s not just shared interests which bond our support workers to the people they support. Our support workers are there throughout their lives - through every up and down, challenge and accomplishment, becoming an integral part in the lives of those we care for.
Being involved in life’s special moments…
Perhaps one of the most extraordinary stories we’ve seen from one of our support workers comes from our Reiver House residential service in Leyland..
Paul hadn’t seen his family since before the pandemic hit, and so his support team organised a trip from Lancashire to the island of Islay - to reunite Paul with his family. After several car, train and plane journeys, Paul was finally met by his step-dad Peter – who’s in his eighties – at Islay’s tiny airport.
It’s special moments such as these that our support workers not only help with but also experience first hand.
“Paul’s dad just ran towards him,” recalled Elizabeth, Paul’s support worker. “Paul wrapped his arms around his dad and it was just amazing. And I knew then that I made a difference in both of these people's lives for the better. It was lovely.”
How do I become a support worker?
Every support worker needs to have an interest in helping other people, along with the ability to communicate clearly and sensitively, listen to others, and be extremely patient.
Becoming a support worker doesn’t require any specific qualifications, although experience in the care sector is always helpful. Training and qualifications are offered to our employees, and progression opportunities are encouraged. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can become a support worker, our blog will tell you everything you need to know.