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Support work – it’s all about confidence building

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Becoming a Support Worker at The Grange was one of the best things I ever did. I left a career in retail management and swapped it for something I find really rewarding and which challenges me to the limit!

Being a Support Worker is about walking alongside a person with a learning or physical disability as they build self-confidence and create a fulfilling life for themselves. It covers all areas of life – from taking care of themselves to managing money and using public transport.

Some recent bad press has led to a poor perception of care work in general so people tend to misunderstand what Support Work is.  I see myself as bridge connecting a person to the world outside their home or as a life coach helping them find ways to achieve their goals. 

I’m with the person through tears and sadness, joy and success, trips to the doctors and the supermarket, social life, holidays, romance and family relationships!

“Extreme multi-tasking and a bit like being a life coach, Lyndsay, Senior Support Worker

Key working is something all support workers do and it’s often the most rewarding part of the job. We are allocated two people who we get to know really well and with whom we spend one-to-one time tackling issues, setting goals and finding ways to achieve them.

The first young lady for whom I was a key worker was shy and reserved. Now I see her wheeling the horticulture produce trolley round The Grange and confidently asking staff if they want to buy anything. She also loves working in our gift shop and has a flair for retail – a girl after my own heart!

What qualifications do Support Workers need?

There are formal NVQs in social healthcare which you can study for at college or on the job. The Grange gives you access to an extensive learning programme so you can build up your skills portfolio.

But what you will always need are:

  • Bucketloads of patience
  • A massive sense of humour
  • Good communication skills – verbal and possibly signing
  • Ability to see people through different eyes
  • Ability to adapt your support to the needs of the person

What is it like working at The Grange?

It’s life changing for the people we support and for staff ! I’ve seen people with disabilities move into their own homes in the community, others have blossomed and gained confidence to make their own life choices.

The Grange is always moving forward and trying new things – we have two shops, two cafes, a thriving skills training programme, which includes mini businesses, and a wide-ranging work experience programme.

It really is a happy place and it helps you appreciate life!

A typical day for Lyndsay

7.30am – The early shift gathers for a handover from the late shift. We find out which people we’re supporting for that day and then we go to their flat and chat with them.

People with learning disabilities need to talk things through, you can’t just spring things on them. They might need to do a shopping list if it’s their shopping day or they might need to pack their gear and make sandwiches before they go off for horticulture or catering training if that’s what they’re doing.

9.15-12.15 – The team planning will have been done the night before but this is real life and things change! We need to keep a ratio of one member of staff to two people so if someone is unwell, I might have to re-arrange the schedule and swap round vehicles to get that person to the doctors and still drop off and pick up others from their activities in several places across Surrey. It’s multi-tasking in the extreme.

12.15-13.15 – At lunchtime, I support some people to make their lunch while others can do this unaided. Around 1pm, it’s back to the shared office for a break and to hand over to the incoming shift. Then of course there’s paperwork. We need to keep a log of every hour we spend with people we support as part of our commitment to Surrey and other county councils who pay for our services.

14.30pm – Time for home but looking forward to coming back tomorrow.

Interested? See our current vacancies or call Tel. 01372 452 608 or email: recruitment@grangecentre.org.uk

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