Case study taken January 2019
How did you get into care?
The company asked me to come and work with them and I’ve been here since 2005. I first started supporting two individuals, but one has left; so now I just care for the other at the moment. Even though I support just one person, I am always working with other units and providing support wherever it is needed.
I was interested in it before as I had chaired a few organisations. I used to be a youth advisor when I was in Africa, which meant I knew how to talk to young people. I then became a youth advisor for a charity that operated all across the UK. A lot of people came to me and I looked after them and gave them a lot of advice.
Then, I started to work at a day centre. One day in 2005, Jubilee House came down for the day and saw what I was doing and approached me shortly after and asked me to join them as a bank staff member. I’ve been supporting Jubilee House for the last 12 years through the day centre. Whenever I was off, I worked for another charity. When I left that charity I joined Jubilee House full time when they opened this unit.
What is your position and what does your job involve?
I’m a support worker for a small unit supporting people with autism and this is a supported living service. At the moment, I support one gentleman as well as support the rest of the team which includes covering all the things that need to be done such as inducting people, doing the rotas, covering shifts, sorting out food menus and helping plan and do all sorts of activities. For the individual I support, I am also responsible for managing his finances and all communication with his parents, and with managers at Jubilee House.
What hours do you work?
I work 39 hours a week, so that’s a 7am to 3pm or 3pm to 10pm shift pattern. We have a rolling rota that tells us what we’re doing from January to December and then it starts again the next year. It’s vital to a lot of what we do and helps us set out a plan of what what we need to do every month. It’s a much better system of planning things as it is allocated electronically, saving a lot of time and effort.
Can you talk about the care and support you provide?
The person I currently support is now comfortable with me and I think it all boils down to passion. When you work with people with additional needs, they want to live life like the way you and I live and I want to support them live life to the fullest regardless of their additional needs. I want them to be independent. Providing this type of care, I have to be encouraging and promote independence.
What training have you done / had?
I’ve done my Level 2 in Health and Social Care and I am going on to do my Level 3. I’ve also done all mandatory training and specific training around autism. The one qualification I do need to undertake is another detailed training course that focuses mostly on Autism-related behaviours.
The one thing you learn from all the training I have done is that it’s not the person that is challenging, it’s the behaviour. For instance, if you were the person who cannot communicate, imagine how frustrating it is if everyone around you can and then you have something done for / to you but you never agreed to it? This is why it is paramount that the person’s best interest is always put first and agreed upon by everyone involved.
It is also important to understand your service user and adapt to them as they comprehend things around them differently from us. It is important to build trust, which helps discourage certain behaviours of distress and helps them progress. This is why it is vital to have consistent care workers that stay on with their service users; otherwise you end up with several random faces throughout a week, which doesn’t build trust or enable them to know the routine of their service user.
What kind of support have you received?
Because of my background, I’ve done diversity training. Even though English is my second language, Jubilee House never held that against me. In fact, they are so encouraging that there are no positions in this organisation that I haven’t approached because they know if I am given something to do, I will do it do the best of my ability and always deliver. All the people I support expect me to deliver and, in the rare cases that I cannot deliver, I need to be able to explain why, and offer alternative options for them to choose. Communication is absolutely key.
What is most rewarding about your role?
I love challenges. When I am presented with a resident that cannot do something, I love turning that person around and enabling them to achieve something they thought they could never achieve; even if it is simple to you and I. A lot of patience is needed when you support people with autism as, when they cannot do something within a day, they no longer want to keep trying to overcome the difficulty and insist on doing something else. When that happens, it’s up to me to employ different strategies to help them to achieve what needs to be achieved and constantly support them.
I also love building rapport and trust with my service user. Even in difficult circumstances, like running away or physically attempting to harm you, I enjoy changing that behaviour for the better and watching them grow as people. It’s all about managing risk whilst also encouraging their independence.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
The most challenging part of my role was coming in to open a service from scratch. But Jubilee House trusted and invested in me to take this on. They had so much confidence in me and, even though I had my self-doubt, they recognised something in me and pushed me to take this on. Not only that, they pushed me to take on qualifications as it benefited everyone involved; myself, Jubilee House and my service users. Consequently, I am more open to new challenges and opportunities.
Why should someone apply for a job in adult care?
I think it begins with you reflecting upon yourself and imagining if no one was there to help you when you needed it the most. That’s why a lot of carers, whether they are full-time staff or volunteers, get into care; they want to care for people who need it the most but wouldn’t have the support without them. I also think people who want to get into care need to know how to look after people and have a genuine heart.
Resilience is something you build over time and with every new challenge, you learn how to handle it and you overcome it. Every challenge is new but you learn, with support from your organisation, to overcome obstacles and develop yourself to better help the people you support. Consequently, it opens up a lot of opportunities. Like right now, there are so many opportunities in the industry. For example, a lot of care assistants lead on to become seniors and then managers; there is a big demand for people to start a career in care because it’s always going to be there and always growing.
There is also a strong community of organisations that look after their carers. For instance, in Jubilee House, it’s like a small family. We take responsibility for one another and look out for each other; when our well-being is looked after, that cascades down to our service users. Whenever I, or another support worker, needs anything, it is always immediately approved or sorted out. The working relationship here is one of the best in my experience of employment.