At 18 years old I had no idea of the career path I wanted to take, I had just left 6th form after doing A-levels and was in need of a job, luckily an old school friend suggested that I come to her work place; A care home that had just opened for people with learning disabilities which paid well and was actually fun to work at.
I never saw myself working with people with learning disabilities and other complex needs and after my induction I began working on the floor, shadowing staff with the service users I would then be supporting. I thought to myself that I had made a terrible mistake – “this person will bite you & pull your hair if you say no to them” or “I’d be careful with them if I were you, they’re pretty dangerous.” were just a couple of examples of what older staff told me, and it terrified me!
There were people that I didn’t know doing all sorts of peculiar things that no one had told me about and, on a few occasions, I was hurt by the people I supported without any knowledge of what to expect.
Each day I would come in and dread to think who I would be supporting and whether I was going to be safe and after a few weeks I thought maybe this work isn’t for me, but I said that I would stay at least 3 months to see if I feel any different about it.
That was almost 8 years ago! I still work at Westward Farm and have grown as a person both in terms of knowledge and in the experience I have with those that we support. My outlook on people with disabilities has changed completely and I am more passionate about my work than I have ever been about anything and I can’t see myself doing any other sort of work.
I have been part of many transitions of people from one service to ours and have seen them develop into almost completely different people, with less challenging behaviours and a much better quality of life. I have taken a specific interest in people’s behaviours and what triggers them and how to prevent them by providing a more positive environment, and thanks to a free-lance behavioural support practioner we use who also worked at Westward Farm,
I have learnt so much about why people do what they do.
I work with some fantastic staff too, it’s not very often you find a workplace that is full of compassionate caring people and with the right direction and support, anyone can become a great worker, and I have seen a lot of people start off similar to how I did; a little nervous and unsure of the job and seen how people can develop into a group of people who will jump and any opportunity to help one another or support someone who may be particularly difficult, it’s especially heart-warming to see staff making breakthroughs after having so many difficult days and come out so positive.
I have spent time in a Senior support worker and Unit leader role and have very recently just changed roles to one that will focus more on the use of Positive Behavioural Support within our service as well as the induction and mentoring of new staff to ensure they get the best start at Westward Farm and we can retain as many staff as we can.
I couldn’t think of a better place to work and I hope to stay working here for a long time as I continue to develop my knowledge of positive behavioural support (which the management have assured me I will be trained in) to ensure the most efficient service delivery we can provide here at Westward Farm.