Case study: Support Worker Brian

After Community Police Officer Brian retired, he wanted to continue serving his community so become a Support Worker at Sense Scotland.

Support worker Brian 700x345


Why did you want to work with Sense Scotland?

I enjoy working with people and supporting others in my community - that's what I feel's important.

I wanted to do something community based, helping people live within the community. Community relationships are important to me and I enjoy working with people.

Describe a typical day with the person you support?

Mainly, we do everyday tasks. I find that now, I think a lot more about basic life choices and tasks that I took for granted before I started working here. Things like choosing clothes, washing a cup and deciding where to eat are all things that we work on together.

I have realised that perseverance is important and we get there eventually. I take a step back and don't apply my own way of thinking. I find ways of supporting his choices and tap into what he wants.

What value do you feel you bring to the lives of those you care for?

I feel I'm empowering someone to do what they want to do and I've learned how to understand what his needs are. We have strong trust and when I say I'm going to do something I do it; I don't change the goal posts.

I also think about his family's needs. I know his parents and I'm always thinking about what's best for him and about the way I would want someone to care for my own family.

What value does the person you support bring to your life?

Wee bits of interaction can make me feel so proud and happy. It could be that he washes a cup or picks up a plate.

There's a challenge when communicating with someone who can't communicate; you have to develop skills at picking up the small cues. This is something I find helps my other relationships as I am more attentive and aware. I have to think creatively.

Can you think of a special moment or memory?

It felt superb when he started enjoying listening to music in his house and he now proactively asks for music to be put on. There's a real connection between us.

What does Sense Scotland brings to the lives of the people we support?

It's about choices. It sticks in my mind that how much choice do you really have when you have no ability to communicate?

I challenge the belief that doing everything for someone is helping. Rather than doing everything for him, I think about how I can involve him more, to empower him in his life.

He loves his food but it's not just about the food, it's about supporting him to make his own decisions. He gets bored doing the same thing so I'm always thinking of different places to go to eat - I'm thinking about different places for us to eat even when I am not working with him!

Sometimes he wants to go out but can't sustain going out all the time. It can be frustrating for him sometimes so representing him as his best self is important. We use expressive language as he can only tell me what he wants right now so we very much exist in the here and now.

I hate touching people's feet but I am happy to do it for him and I probably wouldn't do that for anyone else! I am entrusted to look after this person; we have a bond and I put his needs before my own.

It would be difficult to leave as we have a bond, we like each other. We've developed a good relationship and I enjoy getting a cuddle at the end of the night. It's the things that aren't in the job description that make the job worth it.

What are the challenges and the highlights of your job?

He can be volatile but I understand his frustration and we have a trust that allows him to explore his negative feelings as well as his positive feelings.

We're all so emotive about this job. It may not be the highest paid job in the world but it's one with the highest satisfaction and greatest opportunities for a good work/life balance. The balance is in what I get from helping someone and a relationship that is precious to us both.