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Oh – “I Couldn’t Do That” – The Role Of A Support Worker By Dave Keaveney-Sheath

There is so much I could write about the value of humanity in Care Services, although much of it has been said before by people far wiser than me. But there are situations when we are caught off-guard; when things don’t go as we had hoped, or when they do -a powerful and unexpected emotional reaction occurs. For many of us, who feel we have seen it all, we habitually brush off emotion to focus on our day-to-day work. But failing to acknowledge our reactions in challenging situations, can often bring thoughts of stress, anxiety and failure.
Many people in the wider community will have strong reactions towards the job we do, working with those whose behaviour is challenging, unpredictable, scary and at times just dangerous. They will say things like “I don’t know how you do it” “you’re a saint” “I couldn’t do that”.
Although on the surface, these feel positive and nice, underneath they de-value the work you do and the effort you put in everyday! By stating they couldn’t do it, they don’t recognise that at times, we can’t do it either! I know the feeling of preparing for a shift with a client who is going through a rough patch, hoping that I won’t be injured at work today, by someone who I am trying to help, feeling emotionally and physically drained and returning home to a partner or family, who will never really understand why I chose to work in this field. We are not heroes or saints or angels! We come to work every day and give all we have to make life just that little bit easier for people who are struggling.
Leaving our outside life at the door, and for a moment at least, living solely for someone else. For that I commend you! I admire you! I support you! I respect you! And I do know how you do it! I often talk about supporting your colleagues, through training we talk about debrief, we talk about peer support and I often use complicated words to describe very simple ideas, If I can summarise it for you, it is this, “the people you see every day are in the same boat……. just check they’re not sinking!”

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