You may have heard the term support worker in relation to a job role, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know exactly what it meant.
Like many other job titles, the job title of support worker doesn’t truly help to define what it means to be a support worker, nor does it outline what a support worker does.
It also doesn’t help that jobs and duties vary from company to company, and between sectors. For example, a support worker in a children’s care setting would have different duties and daily tasks to a support worker in an elderly care setting.
To get a better understanding of what a support worker does, let’s start at the beginning, with the basics.
The Role of a Support Worker
A Support Worker in some senses does exactly what the job title states: they support the individuals in their care. But being a support worker is more than being a carer. Being a support worker is about putting the people they support at the centre of everything they do.
Being a support worker is about ensuring the people they support can live the best life they possibly can, and as independently as possible.
Support workers occupy a position of privilege; they get to make a genuine positive difference in the lives of others, and enable them to live the best life possible.
Responsibilities of a Support Worker
In some ways, being a support worker might not even feel like a ‘job’ at all. You certainly won’t be sat in an office all day or on your feet as you would be if you were a retail assistant in a busy store.
Being a support worker is an interactive role.
There are several areas where a support worker is expected to be involved:
This means supporting, advising and guiding about positive health choices including eating well and exercise. It also includes personal hygiene – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are responsible for cleaning a person. In adult care it is more related to prompting a person to take a shower or bath, and checking that the water temperature is correct. It might also include prompting someone to brush their teeth, wash their hair or clothes and brush their hair.
This also includes advice on healthy food choices and providing assistance with the preparation of meals.
The role may also involve administering or prompting a person to take their medication, although in these instances, full training would be given.
Social Activities and Hobbies
Life isn’t all work and no play – and it’s no different for the people who need support workers! Everyone needs to enjoy social events and hobbies. As a support worker, your role is to ensure that the people you support can attend any clubs or outings they would like to. It could also involve supporting a person with attending their employment or helping them source activities they would like to participate in.
Daily Living Skills
We all have to learn how to pay bills, do the cleaning, cooking and do our food shopping – sometimes these aren’t easy skills to master. Using money is an important step in achieving and maintaining independence, but it can be a daunting prospect. A support worker will assist and guide a person in all these types of tasks.
Sometimes support workers get to help people choose and plan their holidays and even assist them on holiday.
The role and daily duties of the Support Worker are nothing like a normal 9-5 job. The range of different responsibilities involved provide a variety of different tasks.