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Sean Bidewell - Support Worker

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.


Joe Steele - Support Worker

Care doesn’t require many skills, but reaps great rewards in terms of learning about people, relationships, sense of accomplishment and feeling appreciated.

You just need to be patient and caring, which, even if it isn’t you, easily becomes learned habits in a care environment.

I have been working in care since I was 18 years old, having volunteered to help in the kitchen previously as work experience.

This has improved me as a person and has helped me in my own personal life, with understanding people’s needs picking up on body language and emotions and being able to act accordingly.

When I first started working in care I was scared, scared of challenging behaviours, scared of my friends looking down on me for not having an office job or something mainstream, scared of not being able to be enough for the people I was caring for.

But quickly you get to see how helping with something small like making a cup of tea can actually go a long way.

Imagine if you couldn’t tie your shoe laces or cook a meal for yourself and somebody came along to help you step by step, to do it, and was patient even when you didn’t know what was going on.

They would become your new favourite person.

In care, teaching somebody to cook a meal, may not be done on the first day you try, it may never happen, but everybody deserves the chance to be able to be independent themselves and that’s why you are there, to give vulnerable people that opportunity.

To be that safe person in their lives who they can come to when they need you.

A typical day being a Support Worker consists of turning up and being greeted by happy and excited faces, then on to having a hand over which is a small meeting of staff to discuss all relevant issues and the previous shift/day sometimes over coffee and biscuits.

Next step is to prepare your allocated person ready for the day, which may require bathing and assisting with dressing. Then on to preparing breakfast with or for them, some people may need you to support them to eat.

The rest of the day will consist of supporting people with household tasks and daily living skills or activities for example a Zumba class, hoovering their bedroom, going shopping or for a spot of lunch, before returning home and doing the reverse for an evening.

Also, don’t think you are just thrown straight in to do all of this, when you first start you are there to watch other support workers show you what it takes and learn from their experiences, plenty of training is also offered from first aid to learning about safeguarding and food hygiene.

If you feel you could make a difference in somebody’s life then this is a job for you!

- Written by Joe Steele
Support Worker for Jamesons RCH

Maria Skinner - Support Worker

At the age of 14, I became a young carer for my Nan and cared for her until she passed away. Doing this helped me realise that this was the career path I wanted to follow.

It just didn’t feel like work, it felt like I was spending time with my Nan as if nothing had changed. Where I work feels exactly the same, it’s like I’m just spending time with friends but I’m learning so much at the same time.

I started work with Endurance Care in Church House on the 15th of August 2018 as a Support Worker.

I was really scared on my first day as it was my first job doing this, but all the staff made me feel comfortable and really helped me get the hang of things.

For my first job in care I couldn’t think of a better place to work. Everyone has helped me learn new things that I need to learn as part of the job.

I love going to work and find it really fun. The best part of my job is spending time with the people I support, learning new things about them every day and supporting them to enjoy themselves and live their lives as independently as possible.

I didn’t know what to expect working at Church House, I knew I would be caring for people, but I wasn’t sure how.

I didn’t expect the amount of support I get from everyone and how lovely everyone is there.

I have everyone at Church House to thank for making my first job and my experience of care work as good as it has been so far. 

- Written by Maria Skinner
Support Worker for Endurance Care

Sally Fields - Support Worker

“I couldn’t do your job,” I’ve heard it many times, it does take someone special I think, my day is varied and never the same, never mundane or a boring routine.

A usual day (if there is one!), includes planning and creating the best day for the person I support.

This may include taking part in sporting activities such as swimming, trampolining, living skills, learning new skills and promoting their hobbies and interests.

A big role in my job is encouraging independence and promoting a community-based role and being involved in the local area.

Skills and abilities differ a lot with the people we support, one day I might be involved in teaching someone how to make a cup of tea, a simple task, but a massive achievement for that person, especially when they are being rewarding for it.

It takes time and patience to build a rapport with the people we support, a lot of it is down to building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.

There are obviously hard days! You are looking after people with complex and challenging behaviours which can cause many issues, but with the training I have received, I am better equipped to dealing with the situation.

The good days always outweigh the bad!

I’ve seen massive changes in the way care is provided for people with learning disabilities and although some people still need educating, the way things have moved forward is the best part of my job.

I love working and being part of a great team! So when people say to me: “I couldn’t do your job,” I just smile and think I certainly couldn’t do yours! 

- Written by Sally Fields
Support Worker for Shelton Care

Elisha Walker - Support Worker

I have been working at my day centre since November 2014, and on my first day I did wonder if this job was for me.

Everything was about routine, structure and consistency, I could not help but think that seems repetitive, I never wanted a job where I do the same thing everyday.

But four years later, I can say that I was so wrong! Everyday is different, some days are challenging but the only consistency is that everyday is so rewarding.

The routine, structure and consistency is important to the people we support, especially as we want them to living independent lives through engaging in activities and living life to the fullest.

Helping someone through their journey brings its own rewards, and I am so proud to say that I am in a career that allows me to do so.

We all thrive and give our best, showing the people we support the care compassion and courage to meet their gaols while being committed and competent. 

- Written by Elisha Walker
Support Worker for Shelton Care
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