From disco dancing, singing at Asda, or trips to Blackpool – the life of a Livability support worker is never dull. Karl is a Support Worker with the Livability Conwy team, caring for two women with intellectual disabilities. He shares his story.
Tell us about yourself
I have a bit of diverse background – I’m a trained counsellor, I’ve got a degree and worked as a mortgage adviser, and I’ve worked in social care for five years. And I’m a full-time dad with kids at primary school.
What kind of care do you provide?
We support Sarah and Karen*, who are in their 20s and share a house near Llandudno. Karen is a wheelchair user.
What’s your routine like?
Well, the consistent thing is that we’re always busy and the time flies by! But this week will probably be completely different to last week. I like it, and I like working shifts which change, because it keeps me on my toes.
What can a day consist of?
It’s a balance between getting the admin done and spending quality time with the people we support – that’s really at the heart of what we do. We ensure the environment is healthy and positive. It’s so important for the vibe to be good.
What do the people you support enjoy doing?
If we’re at home, we sit and chat and sometimes watch TV together, or go for a walk. Sarah and Karen do lots in the community and see their families regularly, which boosts their wellbeing and independence. One woman goes to a Rangers Girls’ guide group, we go supermarket shopping, they both go to church, there’s a local disco that’s a regular event. And we get away on holiday – last year it was Blackpool.
How does it work as a male team member caring for females?
Obviously we are trained in all procedures around personal care. So when I’m on duty, we would have a female team member present too, for instance for showering and changing, and the female staff member would take charge when there’s physical contact.
Do you think you bring anything particular to the role as a man?
We’re supporting Karen and Sarah in their home, and they both grew up with male figures – brother, dad – so they like to have male input at home as a natural part of life.
How would you describe your work environment?
It’s nice – friendly, warm and welcoming. Our training is really good and on-going, and there’s always someone we can speak to if we have any concerns. We try to make sure that everyone works together as a team.
Do you have any golden rules about the way you do your job?
I think communication with the people I support is my golden rule. Both Sarah and Karen have very limited verbal communication and listening is the most important thing. To give you an example, sometimes Sarah needs to say the same thing many times, and to be listened to, which visibly releases stress for her. For Karen, I ask for her decisions, like if she’s ok for us to use the hoist, or which items she want to go in the supermarket trolley.
Any moments you treasure from working in social care?
I loved the time a lady I used to support, who had Downs’ Syndrome and dementia, got the opportunity to do karaoke at the supermarket. Her favourite song was White Christmas, so there we were, outside Asda in high summer, singing away with people stopping to listen. She loved it!
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