21 June 2022
Kerry Goodridge, Norwood Support Worker, shares some insights into her role as part of Learning Disability Week.
My background is in Retail Management, but I moved into the care sector about four years ago. I began as a volunteer at a homeless shelter and café before I joined Norwood three years ago. My day-to-day job is in supporting people we support with challenging behaviours. The service I work in is amazing with a great staff team. The challenges we experience keep us on our toes and our manager really keeps our morale up as a team.
We work 12-hour shifts beginning at 7am, with two hours of additional breaks, which can be demanding, but it is also a privilege, as it allows us to follow the daily pattern of the people we support, from when they wake up in the morning to when they go to bed at night and that really helps us to understand their likes, wants and needs.
Covid was a difficult time for everyone, but we worked to support the people we support to understand what was happening and the need to wear masks, as well as reassuring them that lockdown was necessary but temporary and we would come out of it. They were concerned about when they would next see their families and they missed their independence. With the lifting of restrictions, they’ve begun visiting friends in other homes again and going out for coffee. It’s so rewarding for me to see that and as a team we’ve really enjoyed encouraging the people we support to rediscover their independence.
One of the biggest Covid challenges to adapt to for the people we support has been that because of restrictions, the staff are no longer able to eat with the people we support. They really miss that, so we talk with about it each day and reassure them that the rules don’t let us eat with them for the moment, but we hope that we will be able to again soon. We also undertaken more in-depth cleaning regularly throughout the day as part of our infection control measures.
I love my job and I’m so happy I decided to make the move into social care. The feeling of doing something of value and supporting the people we support’s needs is amazing and it’s so wonderful to go home at the end of a day at work knowing that I’ve helped someone.
The people we support are an incredible bunch, they’re all independent and very physically able. My job involves doing everything you’d expect to do in your own home, but in support of the people Norwood supports – from supporting them with personal care to preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning bedrooms, ensuring health and safety and fire safety compliance, and taking residents to appointments. I used to be one of only two staff members, with my managers who drove, but now I am one of four, which helps us to facilitate taking people we support to appointments and on outings.
We always make sure we involve the people we support in everything we do and in their daily choices. So for the early risers, we always ask if they’d like to be supported with personal care before they have their breakfast and medication. Some residents also prefer to wake up late, and we support them with their personal care as and when they’re ready. And now that Covid restrictions have eased, we’ve also been able to put in place more and more activities, all of which are staff led, rather than dependent on volunteers. Some of the people we support go to swimming regularly, and one of them is a keen gardener, so we make sure that their likes are taken into account. We’re currently in the process of converting a disused conservatory into an arts and crafts room, because the people we support all love their arts and crafts.
From the activities we provide to my routine at work it’s all shaped around the people we support, because everything we do is all about them.
A typical daily routine for a Norwood Support Worker:
7am – Shift begins with a handover with night staff. There isn’t usually much to report, unless someone has been poorly during the night; I walk around the home, so the people we can support can see the change of staff. Most of the people we support are awake and some are already up, but most aren’t. The early risers have the opportunity to be supported with personal care and are given the choice to dress before breakfast, if they choose to.
8am – Breakfast and medication; staff then clear away from breakfast.
11am – The people we support may go swimming; some are late risers and get up at 11am, so may be supported with personal care throughout the day.
12pm – Everyone returns for lunch; staff continue to carry out more in-depth cleaning throughout the day, in line with Covid infection control measures.
After lunch – Staff have their breaks.
2pm – The people we support may choose to go to the coffee shop to meet with friends or to have snacks at home. Some may also choose to have a rest; staff also do laundry, prepare dinners and clean bedrooms in between the people we supports’ activities, they are always on the go.
3pm – Staff may begin preparations for tea, depending on what’s on the menu; staff report any incidents that may have occurred throughout the day, and appointed drivers take people we support to scheduled appointments, as well as conducting health and safety and fire safety tasks.
5pm – Teatime for people we support; after tea, most choose to put their pyjamas on and unwind; staff prepare dinner.
8pm – Dinner and medication; people we support then go off to bed as and when they choose to, but some like to sit and talk to the staff during the evening.
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