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Day in the life of a support worker

As part of our research we wanted to empathise with the support workers we were talking to. So we asked them, ‘what is a day in the life of a support worker is like?


Caring and wanting to do a good job

The picture we built of the lives of the support workers we spoke to was of people who are trying really hard to do the best job they possibly can because they care about the people they work with. This may be because the people who volunteered their time to be interviewed by us are most likely the ones who are interested in working empathically already.


Working with lots of different people

Support workers told us that each day they may be working with different people: the person they support, their family, managers from their organisations and other support workers and that they will be trying to empathise with all of them. Each one will have a different set of needs and they will do their best to take them all into consideration.


Using many different skills

 Support workers also described the kinds of skills that they need which go beyond the practical skills needed for day to day tasks:

  • patience

  • good self-care

  • being able to ‘constantly put someone else first'

  • good time management: don’t rush, plan ahead

  • ‘having to re-set and go back into a difficult situation every day’ (for some workers, not all)

  • Being open and flexible, what works one day, won’t work the next

  • doing things you don’t want to and thinking about the impact of everything on [the person I work with]

  • awareness of use of power: ‘making a judgement call on someone else’s life’, ‘balancing need vs want’, ‘can vs should’


Growing through work and having fun

Support workers said most days they learn something new and they feel their work offers them personal growth:

  • becoming more creative

  • learning from the people you work with

  • treating the person you work with like a friend

  • bringing people out of their shell

  • engaging and having fun

  • feeling excited


Facing challenges:

Support workers also said that they can sometimes feel depressed and stressed because of their work: ‘you can get into a cycle of stress: pushing, arguing, getting stuck’ and some spoke about ‘pressuring yourself’ to do a good job and finding it ‘hard to work out if you’re getting it right’.

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