I’m an Enabling Support Worker at Livability John Grooms Court in Norwich, a residential service.
I came to the UK from Hong Kong last year to study physiotherapy at university in Norwich. Some senior students worked at John Grooms Court last year and they told me it was really good experience and that people here were really nice. And also that I could earn some money!
Not with people with disabilities but I had worked with elderly people. It’s a bit different because you might need to spend more time with people with disabilities, to understand their routine and their preferences. Some of them might not be able to communicate easily and you need to really learn to understand them. To be honest, I felt a bit nervous before I started. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to understand what people were saying or wanted me to do, especially as English is my second language. I was asked in my interview if I’d worked with people with disabilities before, and I said no but I said I felt I had a healthcare mindset. I was told I would have an induction programme for three weeks and they would tell me everything I need to know, so I felt it would be alright. When I started, I shadowed some colleagues and they helped me by telling me what individual people like, so I didn’t have to guess and get anything wrong.
No, not at all! All the residents here are really nice and as long as you communicate slowly, in simple ways, they tell me what they like or don’t like. They just use different ways of communicating.
It’s an obvious one but I think the biggest thing is communication skills, how you work with your colleagues and the people you support. Having good teamwork with your colleagues helps to get the job done and the same with the people we support – you can fulfil their needs and wants. You get to know them really well and sometimes they share their life experience and what’s going on for them at the moment. We build a rapport with each other.
Some people are quite particular and they might not easily let new people help them but when I’d settled in, I felt I knew what to do and also I tried my best. I tried to reassure people that everyone on staff was trying to help them and I tried to encourage them to take time and get to know the support worker better. And I think for some that helped, and they took my advice.
Yes, at the beginning I felt I didn’t really know one person’s daily routine. Then one time, we were a bit short of staff and I had to support him and right after that, he said ‘you did a really good job’. He started to ask for me after that. And that made me feel warm!
I think the first is the flexibility, because I’m a student and have to study, but at Livability there’s choice, so I can come to work at different times. Recently I’ve done a lot of shifts, because I chose to, which has been great.
The second thing is the manager here and the team. They’re really, really supportive and I think when you come to a new work environment, the people around you are really important, to make you feel included, and more confident as well.
And the third thing is finding the job rewarding, because you’re trying to help people to live better lives. The people we support always thank us – they’re so polite.
Well, I was in the national 19-24s volleyball team in Hong Kong, and that’s the sport I’m playing here too.