The role of a support worker

10 Aug 2022

Support Workers In Learning Disability

If you are a support worker working with people who have learning disabilities, you may be working with just one individual or a group of individuals living together in a supported environment.

You will work on building a relationship with the individual(s) whilst you support them with living their lives.

Promoting independence and wellbeing in a person with learning disabilities is the biggest part of being a support worker.

The individual care plan will very much depend on the service user and their capabilities, but as a support worker, you will ensure they are safe whilst still getting the most satisfaction from their activities.

Some people undertake volunteer work during the days, others live almost independently by shopping, cooking and cleaning for themselves.

In your capacity as a support worker you can offer your opinion and advice about any activity or issue, but ultimately the final decision of the person you are supporting must be respected.

For example, you could advise about healthy food choices when assisting an individual with making their shopping list, but it is their choice if they actually buy what’s on the list when they get to the supermarket.

You could be involved in assisting them with any type of physical activity such as helping them exercise, or with recreational activities such as shopping, playing games, or cooking and cleaning in their home.

Some service users may be able to live independently and will only need support when going out.

Others may need assistance in their own homes to undertake daily tasks, but whatever the needs of the individual, you will support them at a level that is appropriate for their needs.

Support Workers In Mental Health

Mental health is a very varied area for a support worker to work in.

You could be working with individuals who have a drug or addiction problem, depression, or dementia.

Support workers in this area are sometimes called STR workers, which stands for “Support, Time and Recovery Worker”.

The emphasis is on providing support to the individual, giving them time and in so doing, aiding their recovery.

Your work could include arranging peer support groups for people with a particular issue or working alongside a psychiatrist, social worker or community mental health team in managing a caseload of individuals with a range of mental health problems.

Your role will be to promote independent living, give regular and practical support and assist the service user to gain access to resources they might otherwise be unaware of.

This could be through a community mental health team, early intervention service or daycare centre.

It’s important that you have a genuinely caring nature, and the willingness to help the individual overcome their problems, as well as the ability to prioritise your workload.

It’s common that an individual will be under the care of a multi-disciplinary team, so your ability to pass information effectively between other team members is essential


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