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Candidate Advice

Is being a support worker hard?


Challenges you might experience working in care and how to overcome them

There’s a saying, ‘when you do something you love, you’ll never work’. What that means is that when you’re in a job you feel passionately about, it will never feel like work. When you have a calling to do something, such as helping others, the rewards can be so great that you hardly notice the hard times. Many support workers say this applies to them.

That said, just like with any job, there are times when being a support worker will be challenging. The trick to achieving fulfilment in any job is to make sure that the positives keep outweighing the negatives. Here’s how…


The role of a support worker

A support worker is quite literally someone who offers support to someone else. There are many ways a support worker can offer support to enable adults and children to live their best lives. This might be emotional support, in the form of listening and companionship. It might be physical support, in the form of helping with household duties or everyday activities such as preparing meals and dressing. Or it may be practical support, in the form of assisting with paying bills and budgeting, attending medical appointments or helping with online food shopping.

As a support worker, your main priority is to work with someone so that they can live more independently. Ultimately you are empowering them to live a fulfilling and rewarding life, whatever their limitations.

If you’re considering a career as a support worker, why not read our blog: Why do you want to become a support worker.


The challenges of being a support worker

Irregular hours

Working as part of a team in care, it is almost inevitable that there will be some changes to your shift patterns. Staff might have to go off sick at short notice and you could be faced with staff shortages or unavailability. This means you could be required to work beyond your usual shift or even change your hours at a moment’s notice. There might also be emergencies that crop up and you could find you’re the only personnel available to handle the situation. This is the nature of working in care, but if you thrive on responsibility and enjoy a flexible approach to your work, then this may not feel like a challenge at all!

Challenging clients

As a support worker you will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of people who are experiencing their own difficulties. Some of these difficulties might present themselves as challenging behaviours. For example, elderly clients or adults with severe mental disorders can sometimes seem overly-sensitive or easily get upset. This might be because they are experiencing personal struggles or frustrations which can manifest as challenging behaviour. It is important to remember that this type of behaviour is nothing personal – it’s not about you but it is a reflection of the traumas that your client is experiencing at that particular time. Your role is to understand this and help your client work through their difficulties in a calm, collected manner.

Losing clients 

By the very nature of the work, as a support worker you will sadly experience the death of a patient at some point in your career. Because of the amount of time you will have spent together, you will have naturally developed an emotional bond with your client and losing them will take a huge adjustment. Learning to live with grief when you lose a patient is something you will be supported with by your support manager and team. 


The positives of being a support worker

Never a dull day 

When you work with other people, you will quickly realise that no two days are ever the same. That’s great news if you’ve studiously tried to avoid the 9-5! Being a support worker offers a great deal of variety in your working life: you will find yourself working with several different clients, in different types of settings, and performing different duties depending on what the client’s needs are that day. 

Job satisfaction 

If you enjoy making a difference to people’s lives then being a support worker is one of the most rewarding careers you can do. Some people are born with a desire to help others so finding a role where you can put this quality to use is essential to your own wellbeing. Remember what we said earlier – when you do something you love, it’ll never feel like work! 

Employment security

There is an ever increasing need for support work in the healthcare industry so as a support worker,  it’s likely you will never be out of a job. There are also plenty of opportunities for career development should you wish to take your role as a support worker to a more senior level. As a support worker you can continually seek to self-improve, taking training opportunities that could lead to qualifications that can help you progress in your chosen career path.

To help you decide is being a support worker the right career for you, talk to one of our team who specialises in healthcare recruitment. At Safehands, we match the right people with the right job and offer ongoing support and advice to help you get the most out of your role.

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