Kim says, 'Considering a career in care? Go for it; it's really rewarding!'
When I was younger, I had the perception that care was only about looking after older people in nursing homes or hospitals. I started as an apprentice and now I'm a support worker in Learning Disability Day Services.
Did you always know you wanted to work in care?
I'd considered working in care, although I didn't originally apply to be a support worker. I applied for an administration apprenticeship with Persona. I had the interview and then got an email to say they had a support worker vacancy they thought I'd be suitable for, so I applied for it and got that, so it worked out for the best really! I'm really glad I got this job; it's given me a lot of confidence through working with different people. I feel like I've got a lot of knowledge about working with people with different needs now too, because I didn't know much about it at first.
Tell us about your career since that first role.
I got my Level 2 in Health and Social Care while I was an apprentice and I'm working towards my Level 3 now. Work are funding it and my tutor visits every six weeks to set work, go through what I've done and to do observations. I get some time each week to do some of the course in work when we can fit it in and I get lots of support from my managers. They're always there to help with any questions I've got; Julie is helping me with my 'working with families' module and Laura's given me advice because she's done the course too - that helps with my confidence.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
It's great fun not having a 'normal' job, doing activities and days out. We do things like mini golf, bowling cinema trips and Fun Tubing at The Hill. The activities are good for people we support because they get to try new activities and find new interests. They're also mixing with new people; meeting different people with different abilities to them when they try different things. It makes you feel good knowing you're making this happen for people, especially if you've got someone who comes in and is a bit shy, then slowly you'll see them come out of their shell and be confident in saying what they want to do and what activities they like and don't like.
The people are the best thing! The people we support, their families, our colleagues - we've got a really good team.
What do you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people knew that disabled people are people; they are all unique and should be valued as their own person. I hear a lot of misconceptions when we are in the community. Also, I wish people understood what my role actually is, as people generally assume I work in a care home when I say I am a support worker.
What qualities do you think are needed to work in care?
Enthusiasm, because if you show your enthusiasm and that you love doing something, people are more likely to enjoy it and join in. If you're doing an activity and you're not giving it your all, it's just going to show people to not give it their all either.
Patience, because sometimes it can be hard when you've got a room full of people, especially if you're a bit short staffed, and people don't want to do certain things. You've got to have a bit of patience and work around it with them.
A sense of humour, because you've got to be on the same level - I'm the same age as most of the people we support and the people I work with like having a joke. You've got to be able to give it back sometimes and have a banter!
An open mind helps you get to know the people you support better, if you don't have any limited expectations.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about a role in care?
It's very rewarding. One person we support lost his voice over lockdown - he hadn't really spoken much and had very few words and it's been lovely to see him slowly come out of his shell. He'll talk to us a lot more now; he tells us what he wants and he's one of the loudest people in the room! It's been really nice to see him get his voice back.
I'd say go for it! It is an eye-opening role to disabilities and people's perception of disability.
It sounds like you and Amy* have become close, is that true? How does the team work together to support each other and the people we support, to live their best lives?
Yes, we're close. I think it helps that the team all have different personalities; we all have our strengths and weaknesses and when one member of staff isn't confident to do something, another one is and will pick it up straight away and vice versa. We're a pretty strong team as well - I feel like if we have any issues we can just talk to each other about them because we've all become really close.