When supporting and empowering people with learning difficulties and complex needs, a person-centred approach is fundamental. A vast number of responsibilities, beyond the scope and capabilities of one job role, must be performed to help clients with their day-to-day personal care.
At Select Lifestyles, to ensure that all of our clients’ needs are met, we employ a number of different job roles at each of our sites – all of which have varying responsibilities. For example, the responsibilities of a support worker differ vastly from those of a service manager, but both are equally crucial to ensure clients get the best care possible. What’s more, within these job roles, every day is different to ensure clients continually receive tailored, compassionate, and attentive support. We hear from a few individuals who work at Select Lifestyles’ Beeches Road shared housing residential site, which cares for clients with Down’s syndrome, visual and hearing impairments, autism, and other learning disabilities.
CHARLOTTE GOURD AND KATH FERGUSON, SUPPORT WORKERS
“Every day begins with a handover from the night staff, to ensure we’re fully briefed to care for the clients we’re working with that day. Following this, we help clients to get out of bed, prepare breakfast and check if they have any pre-arranged plans for the day. It is so important to encourage clients to do these tasks as independently as possible, whether this is prompting them to make their own bed or by encouraging them to do their own personal care. A prime time to push independence is during mealtimes – this could be through meal planning, ingredient buying or cooking.
“If there are no pre-arranged recreational plans, then we ask each client whether they would like to go out, giving them options such as the shops, a local park or a nearby attraction. If the answer is yes, which it often is, we look at the clients’ finances, make sure all their medication is prepared and ready to take out and in the summer months, make sure everyone applies plenty of sunscreen before stepping out! If the answer is no, then we spend the day indoors watching games shows or completing puzzles – the key is to find something engaging to do with clients. “We typically support two clients each day, but when we have planned recreational activities as a household, such as going to the zoo, we tend to work together as one big team.
“It is crucial to us and everyone that works at Beeches Road to have extensive knowledge of personal care plans and that we are ever perceptive to learning new things about each client. This is particularly important due to the variety of learning difficulties our clients have and ensures that every individual is cared for equally and inclusively.
“The thing we love most about working at Select Lifestyles is helping people to make those steps to make their lives better. For example, one of our service users arrived at Beeches Road non-verbal by choice, but after nine months he has become a bubbly individual who never fails to shout good morning to us. He grows more independent by the day and his journey perfectly demonstrates why our job can be so rewarding.”
KAREN MCAFEE, SCHEME MANAGER
“My day-to-day role as a Scheme Manager follows a similar pattern to Charlotte and Kath’s, however I have a few additional administrational responsibilities, such as supervising competency and medication training. Training in the care industry is paramount to creating a strong and educated team of care professionals and this is something that Select Lifestyles highly values. “I’m currently working on my Level 5 NVQ in Health and Social Care, and it is hugely rewarding to see my own personal growth and progression.
However, by far the most rewarding part of my job is seeing clients grow and become increasingly independent. “For example, one of our clients has lost a significant amount of weight since he first came to Beeches Road last year. He has grown from a socially anxious individual who often cried out in pain to an ever-dancing, joyful character, which is amazing to see.
“As a Scheme Manager, I also monitor staff levels and arrange shifts based on levels of skill and knowledge. Auditing, ordering medication and organising any necessary medical appointments are crucial parts of my daily role, ensuring the smooth running of the household. “I work incredibly closely with support workers and neither role would be possible without the other. Most importantly, for either role as a scheme manager or a support worker, you must have a naturally caring and nurturing presence and be genuinely passionate about caring for every individual client.”
A day in the life of anyone caring for adults with learning disabilities should always place each client at the centre of their role, and the tailored nature of care should be sensitive to the ever-changing needs of every client. That’s why working in care provides such a rewarding and dynamic job role, with the overarching ethos of client empowerment and independence.
This article can be read in The Carer, Issue 159 page 14: https://issuu.com/thecarer/docs/the_carer_digital_issue_159