The Role of a Support Worker
What is a support worker?
A support worker is someone who looks after the well-being of people in their daily lives. They help people living with different physical disabilities and mental health needs to live their lives more independently and support them to reach their potential by providing both physical and emotional support. The role of support worker is so varied - each person has unique needs, which makes the job unique too.
What does a support worker do?
The day-to-day job of a support worker differs depending on the needs of the person they are supporting. This can include helping people to carry out their daily tasks to take care of themselves, teaching new skills, providing emotional support, and ensuring they are living a fulfilled life.
The role is primarily focused on enabling and supporting people to live their lives as independently as they can. At Lifeways, we support people with a diverse range of needs, including learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental health needs.
As a support worker, you may find yourself working in a variety of settings, including people’s own homes, in health and social care settings such as supported living services or care homes, and out in the community.
What are the responsibilities of a support worker?
There are many roles and responsibilities of a support worker, including:
- Providing physical support which may include helping with household tasks and personal care.
- Providing emotional support for an individual and their families.
- Supporting and helping with health care needs, including routine checks or administrating medication.
- Encouraging and supporting the development of personal skills through hobbies and interests.
- Teaching life skills, such as shopping, using public transport and paying for bills.
- Working with other healthcare professionals to ensure that all care needs meet the highest possible standards.
Making friends is often difficult for the people we support, and so a key responsibility of support work is promoting and planning meaningful days. This can be supporting people to enjoy their hobbies and interests, helping them to get involved in community groups, or encouraging them to learn a new skill like cooking or painting. For many people we support, communication is not easy. An important aspect of the job is understanding how the person communicates and how others can best communicate with them.
Why become a support worker?
Being a support worker can be a very rewarding job. Even though the role can be hard and often challenging, making a positive difference to someone’s life and helping them become more independent brings feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s a great career choice for those who enjoy a varied job role and lots of interaction with others.
Some of the best parts of the job are sharing new experiences together, creating new memories and celebrating successes. You’ll enable people to overcome their fears and challenges whilst helping them to build confidence and self-esteem.
"As a support worker, you have to wear many different hats. You're a professional but also a companion, coach, educator and community bridge-builder. You help people to live fulfilling lives, to be an inclusive part of their community, and you enable them to develop and maintain relationships. Your support means they have choice and control in their lives. Variety is very much part of the role."
Fran Winney, Regional Operations Director
What skills are needed to be a support worker?
There are certain skills that are beneficial to have when working as a support worker, for example:
- An interest in helping other people, regardless of their condition.
- The ability to communicate clearly and sensitively when talking to people and their families.
- Good listening skills.
- Great problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt and act accordingly to situations.
- Good time management skills to be able to support the needs of multiple people.
- The ability to keep up with changing standards and codes of conduct in the social care sector.
- The ability to work both alone and as part of a team.
- A high level of patience and emotional resilience.
- Being empathetic towards everyone.
- The ability to make good, positive relationships with people and their families.
- The ability to communicate with other healthcare professionals.
- Great verbal and written communication skills.
- A non-judgemental attitude regardless of a person’s needs.
- The ability to remain calm under pressure and when dealing with challenging situations.
What qualifications are needed to be a support worker?
Becoming a support worker doesn’t require any specific qualifications. Experience in the care sector is helpful but not required. When starting a support worker role, employers will often provide some form of training, especially for newcomers, which provides an insight into the roles and responsibilities of the job role.
Even though specific qualifications aren’t required, NVQs or similar qualifications in the health and social care sector can give you an advantage of getting the support worker role you want.
As a support worker for Lifeways you’ll have access to fantastic training and development opportunities. There’s a comprehensive induction programme where you will learn about our company values and our person-centred approach to service delivery. After completing your induction, you’ll be fully competent and confident to provide quality care to the people you support. You will have achieved your mandatory training and also the knowledge criteria of some of the Support Worker (Care Certificate) Standards.
Your learning journey will continue after your induction with further learning sessions relating to the person you are supporting. You can also attend training sessions that cover things like moving and handling, safe swallowing and physical intervention. As you start work in your service you will also experience a comprehensive local induction. This will detail the specifics around your service including who you will be supporting, and you will also have an opportunity to meet with the team. Our support workers can undertake NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Health & Social Care or an appropriate qualification once their role has commenced.
How much does a support worker earn?
The average salary for a support worker in the UK is £8.72 an hour. This varies from region to region.
Is there opportunity for career progression?
In the care industry, there is a lot of room for career progression. Many companies offer support workers the chance to work towards an NVQ, SVQ or degree whilst working. This can enable progression to a more senior support worker role or managerial position.
Companies usually provide other regular training opportunities, such as first aid training, which helps support workers stay up to date with the ever-changing professional standards in the social care sector.
There are many career progression opportunities available at Lifeways.
How to become a support worker?
At Lifeways, we help people to lead more fulfilling, independent lives by providing extraordinary support for adults with learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental health needs. If you’re looking for a support worker role, please take a look at our careers section. We have many exciting opportunities across the country.
If you have any questions regarding becoming a support worker in one of our many Lifeways locations, please feel free to get in touch.