David is an enabling support worker at Livability North Down and Ards and his personal connection to disability is the reason why he is such a passionate carer. We speak to David to find out more on why he works for Livability.
I worked at the Bank of Ireland after I left school, over ten years ago. When my partner Lauren and I had a baby five years ago – Olly – he turned out to have Down’s Syndrome. It was quite a shock – we had no idea of this until he was born. To be honest, I thought the world had ended. I’d never really been around anyone with a disability before. But if I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have worried at all. Oli is so loving and caring, he’s thriving and is doing everything at mainstream school that the other kids are doing. It just takes him a little bit longer.
Three years ago, we had a baby girl who also turned out to have Down’s Syndrome, but unlike Olly who has no health problems, she was very sick and very sadly died at three months old. I wanted to do something in her memory and decided to volunteer at a local club for adults with profound learning disabilities. I absolutely loved it and found myself thinking ‘I could do this as a job’. And here I am as an enabling support worker, one year on, in North Down and Ards, and I absolutely love it.
I think I settled in quite quickly. The training was good, obviously online at the moment. Livability has several different types of service in this area, so I work with people across a big spectrum. At one supported living house, I work with four people, only one of whom can walk and talk; at another there’s a young woman with Down’s Syndrome who does absolutely everything for herself, so my role is more social, getting out for a walk or to the shops. Another guy had a stroke and is football mad, so I try to coax him away from the telly for a while, to get out. It’s very rewarding when you get a smile or feedback from someone. I helped Rebecca, who I support, to have a gluten-free takeaway birthday meal with her mum, and she really enjoyed it.
Making meals for people – I couldn’t cook at all before and now I’m cooking stuff like fresh fish! – helping with their medication, getting out, personal care etc. Personal care was the one thing I struggled with at the beginning, because it’s so intimate and I felt awkward. I spoke to my manager who suggested I just give it a bit more time, and she was right – I don’t even think about it now. It’s just something you do in the day.
I’m still learning but I’d like to get my NVQ3 [social care diploma] and maybe go for a team leader role in the future. I like the job so much I referred my partner Lauren, and she’s about to start with Livability later this month! Wish I’d done it sooner – it doesn’t even feel like work most of the time! I appreciate the benefits with Livability, such as sick pay and a ‘Golden Hello’ scheme, which gives you £500 after six months, and another £500 after one year. I’d like to spend it on a holiday – I’m busting for a holiday!
Do you work for Livability and know someone who would be interested in becoming a carer? You can receive £500 for referring a friend through the Golden Hello award scheme