Dave Maffia on his job as a support worker
Thank you to Dave Maffia for clearly explaining what he loves about support work, and what you can expect if you decide to pursue a career in care.
4th February 2015
I have been working as a Support Worker for coming up to ten years now and find it a very rewarding, positive and enjoyable position. I have met people from all kinds of backgrounds and in a variety of situations.
Healthcare offers a wide choice of work, and you can follow most roles as far up the career ladder you wish to go. Many people simply enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that you get when working ‘on the shop floor’.
There are many challenges associated with support work. You do see people at their most vulnerable. But knowing that your input can make a difference brings a huge reward. You find yourself eagerly going the extra mile for those in your care without even questioning it. They become a part of your life; and you become a part of theirs.
Cooperation and planning is the key to care work; helping an individual to set and attain personal goals is its own reward. You learn that a goal can be anything from dressing independently to having the end of life plan that they and their family wish for. It’s very reaffirming when a family member turns to you and thanks you for all you have done.
There are obviously struggles to the job: the hours can be long and unsociable, a lot of the time you’re on your feet rushing around; and sometimes the workload feels overbearing. But with good planning, an organised approach to your work and trusting your ability you do learn that you can manage perfectly well…. just make sure you grab a cup of tea at some point.
Any day begins and ends with handover. Handover shapes your day. Taking handover from the previous shift leader will inform all staff of any changes to care requirements of an individual, plus any upcoming appointments, visits or events.
I think a good handover is key to a good shift. Staff can create a plan to follow, tasks can be delegated to appropriate workers and the day can be divided into sections with each section having its own goal. This can be, say, ‘have everybody down for lunch by 11:45’ or ‘ensure all residents have afternoon drinks by 14:30’. These might seem trivial to some but a well organised and structured shift can allow for the ever-occurring unexpected incidences to be managed easily.
Training is widely available to all staff and can help personal development and career progression. NVQ’s help you reach personal goals and can open up career progression and increase income. There is plenty of support available for those wishing to start a training course - be it a work-based one or college based.
The most enjoyable aspect of care work are the relationships you develop with those in your care. You are working for people who have experienced so much in their life that they are a living history book. The little old lady sat by the window or the quiet chap in the corner lived in an era so different to ours they offer a whole new perspective on life. The stories that you will hear will have you blown away.
The cliché of the old person telling war stories becomes an enthralling and emotional experience. There have been countless times that I have been left speechless after listening to what clients have told me about their youth.
So although it may seem an unglamorous career for some (and the gloves and aprons pay testament to that) it certainly is an interesting, rewarding, positive and respectable position.