Aside from the typical support worker roles in caring for vulnerable individuals in hospitals, community or private settings, support workers often provide more subtle support networks to individuals at need. Below, we identify some of the key roles a support worker has and how they make a difference to a client in need.
Often, you may be required to provide support to families who are struggling, or potentially liaise with family members. As a support worker, you may spend more time with the patient than their family does themselves, so you are a port of call for their mood, how they got on in their day and the activities you accomplished together. Often you may be a good route to get a more subjective opinion of the patient and their progress than clinical specialists who often will be more objective about the patient’s condition. You may also provide emotional support to family members or children of patients to improve their understanding of the roles, activities and responsibilities you have to their family member.
Observing the patient throughout their day as well as helping in the adherence and administration of medicines and clinical care programmes. Ensure the individual can continue their daily activities but encourage the intake of any prescribed medicines. Another role you may be required to perform is to monitor the patient for any symptoms – for example, patients with mental health conditions may be screened for deviant behaviours or other symptoms which are to be monitored as their treatment progresses. These inform feedback to clinicians and doctors about the management of their condition and any changes which need to be implemented.
A great part of a support worker role is encouraging patients to enjoy themselves and to ensure they are having a good quality of life. Often you may accompany them to places for trips, but will also provide a friendly face to engage in activities such as watching television, playing board games or even talking about any of their interests. The support worker role is more of a lifestyle-oriented experience, and the support worker will often build close relationships with the individual through care and relationship building activities. These activities will be different in each case depending on their age, any limiting factors or conditions and the details of where they are based and available amenities.
A key role of a support worker is to guide the individual in any tasks they wish to carry out. This may be shopping, going to a bank or getting bits from town. You will be required to aid them and give advice and opinions, but in many cases are expected to respect the individual’s decision, unless you are given information by caregivers otherwise. A support worker is aiming to improve the quality of life of the individual, which helps to give them back a sense of dignity and pride in their everyday life.
Be a friend
Many support workers make good friends with the individual and their family which helps to give a personal touch to the care you give. This helps to improve treatment for the individual due to a the recognition of seeing a friendly face every day. In this respect, treatment seems less clinical and more personal, and certain individuals are prone to respond very well to the sense of companionship.