As a support worker or at the beginning of your career in the care sector, you may think that there is little to no career progression and people in leadership roles must have been fast- tracked into their positions. Well, I’m here to tell you, I started my career the very same way you are. It all began when I was a student. I started working at a long-stay hospital for people with learning disabilities. Shortly after, I experienced some personal challenges which meant I spent a bit of time out of work. When I was ready to go back, I applied to be a support worker, as I already had prior experience from my time at the long-stay hospital. I also wanted a job that gave me a sense of purpose and somewhere where I was giving back to the community, and especially after such a difficult personal time, I wanted the sense of security.
For me, being a support worker was the hardest job I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most rewarding. As soon as I started, I realised I had the ability to make a real difference to people’s lives and soon enough this deep-rooted belief of mine emerged, the support we provided was good, but it could always be done better.
I’d like to say that I breezed through my roles and progressed smoothly. The reality was somewhat different, I was dragged kicking and screaming into my promotions by the people who had faith in me and who saw my worth when I couldn’t. The company I was working at, operated in such a way that they got the best out of their people. I was very lucky to have people who believed in me. They stepped up on my behalf and gave me the opportunities to succeed. I was a reluctant leader at first; I was very happy being a support worker but because of their support and encouragement, I rose through the ranks quickly. Within 5 years I had progressed from a support worker to lead support worker to supervisor to deputy manager and then finally to registered manager. Then suddenly, one day I was looking at a room full of my own team of registered managers.
Being a support worker gave me the best learning opportunities I’ve ever had, the skills I gained have made me a better leader today. It is definitely the most challenging job, but the most rewarding. Support workers need to be agile, think on their feet, have excellent communication skills and be empathetic. I know it’s not easy, I’ve been there. I know what it is like to manage someone’s challenging behaviour in the community, keeping everyone safe, fishing poos out of the bath for the millionth time, working a night shift on New Year’s Eve to name a few. But it is our responsibility to make people’s lives better. Something that has always stayed with me is ‘we can’t always change the world, but we can change the world for someone’.
For me, people and relationships are the most important thing, teams of people who connect with each other to work in a way that is collaborative and collective, achieving amazing and inspiring outcomes which are invaluable.
I’ve been very privileged to work with outstanding people, who have achieved the most extraordinary things with the people they support. These are the same people that had faith in me and gave me the opportunity to succeed. Now I would like to do the same for others, give people the skills and opportunities to fulfil their potential.
Working with the people we support makes you realise that the world is much bigger than you are, you are a small part of someone else’s bigger story. It’s an incredible privilege to work with vulnerable adults and people with complex needs. I have learnt more life skills from the people I’ve supported over the years, than anyone else could have taught me in my lifetime. It’s interesting that I’ve made a career out of not fitting in a box, and this is exactly my ethos. It is not about ticking boxes or putting people in a category which you think represents them. Everyone is different, everyone is equal, and everyone’s needs are unique. We are looking for people who truly believe this and have the drive and passion to do purposeful work. Please get in contact here to find out about our available positions and follow us on Facebook to keep updated with new and exciting opportunities.