When I was furloughed in March 2020 I decided to go back to my psychology routes and become a support worker. I applied to QEF and now work with residents at Dorincourt - QEF’s Independent Living Service and I love it - I've become so attached to the residents.
As I am a bank worker I can organise my shifts to suit my life. I love making sure that the residents have a good quality of life and there are lots of activities, as they are locked down like the rest of us. I really enjoy playing bingo and helping people communicate with their families. We also love playing boccia, which is a bit like bowls - it can get really competitive! I'm really not a morning person so anything that gets me out of bed at 6:00am to start work at 7.15 must be something special!
Residents have different skills and abilities, so for those that are more able and are practising their independence skills, I spend time with them just chatting and observing to make sure they are doing things safely; so they're cooking their meals by themselves, doing their ironing and I just watched and keep them company. But others need much more or even everything doing for them, so I help get them out of bed, get dressed, have their breakfast etc. There is lots of dignity and privacy involved in personal care and we have different songs for brushing teeth, different songs for the shower and different songs for getting dressed - it's just part of the normal day and I don’t even think of it as work.
I always assume people have capacity to understand what I’m saying and talk to people in that manner, it’s really important not to make assumptions. Even people who are non-verbal have ways to have conversations with you and there may be a list of questions that they like to be asked each morning, you just need to get to know each person as an individual.
Other members of staff showed me some simple easy ways to communicate and after just a couple of months I felt really comfortable. Plus residents will also come and say 'hi' and make a point of getting to know me, and introduce the more shy residents. Residents all want to talk with you and have a laugh and I love all the connections and friendships they have with each other and how they want to share the gossip.
I also enjoy supporting residents with the different exercises they've been asked to do during their therapy sessions. Being able to help people do their stretches in the morning helps to avoid their muscles getting tense. If they need to practice their walking, we can help them into a walker and go into the large flexi space where we play their own CD’s and turn on the disco lights, so its lots of fun doing their exercises.