Find out more about the different types of roles people have working with adults by catching up with their stories here. 

Working in a care home service

'When you make that connection, whether it's through listening to music or dancing, it's just brilliant!'

Ray Pert, Manager, Beech Hill Care Centre

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Ray is the manager of Beech Hill Care Centre and has worked in care homes for 20 years.

What type of service do you work in?

Owned by Angus Council, Beech Hill Care Centre provides care and support to adults, the majority live with dementia.

The team adapts their approach to meet individuals' needs and to successfully achieve identified outcomes. Support is also there for families and carers.

Have you always worked in social services? No. My first role was a trained psychiatric nurse.
Can you tell us more about your job?

Beech Hill Care Centre is one of three care centres run by the local authority, Angus Council.

The centre offers permanent care, short stay (respite), day care and very sheltered housing which allows people to live independently safe in the knowledge that there is support if required. As the Manager, my responsibilities include ensuring the centre runs effectively, that staff are provided with good leadership and that required standards are met.

As a team we work alongside service users’ families and carers whilst also developing neighbourly relationships with the local community, including playgroups and schools.

These relationships are hugely important in supporting inter-generational work, forming links between the young and old. Informal social events and school visits, helps demystify what happens within a care home.  

What are you working on at the moment? Preparing our annual self-evaluation for the Care Inspectorate. This is like preparing a ‘shop window’ for our services, explaining how we are meeting each of the National Care Standards.  
Who else is in your team?

The most senior member of my team is the Director of Angus Council People Directorate. Under them is the Head of Adult Services who is responsible for the Service Manager, who is my manager.

In my direct team as the Centre Manager, I have three Senior Social Care Officers who each have a team of approximately 12 Social Care Officers.

We also have a hugely important ancillary team including catering staff, cleaners, bus drivers, clerical support and a gardener.  

What part of the job motivates you and why?

Working with people. The majority of our service-users are living with dementia which can be challenging. However, the real reward is getting to know people on an individual, one-to-one basis, understanding who they are, and discovering how to connect with them as a person. When you make that connection, whether it’s through listening to music or dancing, it’s just brilliant!

The other motivation for me is supporting families and carers, who understandably tend to welcome our help. 

What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Like many services, budget and the pressure on Angus Council to save money whilst seeking to do more with less. This can mean looking for innovative ways to work flexibly with a range of partner organisations. At the end of the day, it is about supporting people to achieve their own identified outcomes.  
In what way is your career in social services rewarding?

It’s great to see the team develop, not just building on their existing skills but in confidence too.

Taking on Tom Kitwood’s person-centred approach, it’s incredibly rewarding to see workers embracing a new care culture. Tom Kitwood argued that “people with dementia do not lose their personhood, but rather can be maintained through relationships with other people.” It’s at the heart of everything we do.  

Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? People skills, not just forming relationships but maintaining relationships, ones based on mutual trust and co-operation. The focus has to be on the person living with dementia.  
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have recently graduated with a Masters in Dementia Studies from Stirling University. Once you acquire the understanding, it’s like a light being switched on. You suddenly become more aware of the impact you are able to make. Working for Angus Council there are plenty opportunities for training. In addition to statutory training, there’s also a wide choice of other personal development opportunities, including free online courses, such as “Tribal”, in addition to programmes such as “Promoting Excellence” run by the Scottish Social Services Council.  
How do you see your career progressing? The next obvious career progression could be a managerial role. To be honest, I enjoy having a hands-on job and I am therefore very happy in my current role.  
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Be clear in your own head where you want to take the service and have the confidence to move in that direction.  

 

'It's so rewarding to see the team build on their job knowledge and confidence, allowing them to put their skills into practice with people using our service.'

Vicky Graham, Senior Social Care Officer

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

 Vicky joined Angus Council in 2008 after studying an HNC in Health and Social Care. Before college she worked in a private sector nursing home and before that she worked in retail management.

What's the role of your service?

Owned by Angus Council, Beech Hill Care Centre provides care and support to adults, the majority of whom live with dementia.

The team adapts their approach to meet individuals’ needs and to successfully achieve identified outcomes. Support is also there for families and carers.  

Can you explain what your job involves?

The centre offers permanent care, short stay (respite), day care and very sheltered housing which allows people to live independently safe knowing that there is support if required. As a Senior Social Care Officer, my main role is to manage the short stay unit. This consists of a number of jobs including supervising and supporting nine members of staff and carrying out pre-admission assessments to ensure we meet our service user’s needs and requirements. Ensuring service users maintain their independence is a key priority for us. By encouraging service users to retain, where possible, their normal daily routines, such as making their own beds in the morning, we hope they are able to return home feeling confident in their own abilities to live as independently as possible.

Engagement work with both service user and their families is also of great importance. Getting to know families on a personal level, allows the team to provide the most effective support, at the right time.  

What are you working on at the moment?

We are currently in the process of addressing the high volume of paperwork. Staff are being encouraged to take a more hands-on approach in implementing more efficient ways to deal with the day-to-day administration.

Another area we’re focused on is creating a less clinical and more ‘dementia friendly’ environment for our service users.

By introducing name plates on bedroom doors, brightly coloured signage to public areas and placing familiar personal items, such as photos in bedrooms, we aim to support individuals live and move around the accommodation as independently as possible.  

Who else is in your team?  There are nine social care officers in my immediate team. Under my role as duty officer, I am responsible for supervising the team in addition to ensuring the wellbeing of everyone else in building.
What part of the job motivates you and why?

The main motivators for me are being able to provide a much needed break to family members and carers.

Supporting a servicer user in being able to return home to live independently is also hugely rewarding.  

What are the challenges do you face in your job?

Ensuring that all staff are working at the same level, while also being kept aware of necessary changes.

These challenges are achieved by spending time with staff either as a team or on a one-to-one basis.  

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Feeling like you’ve made a difference, whether that be toward service users, families or staff members. It’s so rewarding to see the team build on their job knowledge and confidence, allowing them to put their skills into practice with service users. 
What qualifications do you need for this job?

My qualifications include an HNC in Health and Social Care, Scottish Vocation Qualification (SQV), Level 3 and an Assessors Award in Social Care.

Continual training helps to gain good knowledge around the legislations and policies, which in turn, gives me a better understanding of the link behind knowledge care and the service I provide to service users.  

What training and development opportunities have you undertaken in your current job? I will shortly be starting my Professional Development Award (PDA) in Management. I’m also working on my own personal development plan, recently completing refresher courses in malnutrition, medical training and handling. 
How do you see your career progressing?  My career progression has gone well. I started as a social service care officer within the training sector before securing my current post as senior social care officer in January. I plan to spend the next couple of years gaining more experience, especially within management. The next step will be to work towards becoming a supervisor.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? You really need to be a caring person, with a real passion to work with people. Being positive, committed, motivated, open and honest are all values required for the role, in addition to not taking things too personally! 

 

'I would recommend a career in social services. It is such a rewarding career and you meet some incredible people.'

Kyle Mckenzie, Assistant Manager at a care home service for adults

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Kyle decided to choose a career in social services after caring for his grandparents. Five years on and he has already worked his way up to an assistant manager role.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? I work with Blackwood Care at Broom Court, Stirling. The service is for adults with physical disabilities and there are also adults with learning disabilities. The main unit has 14 residents in it. I also oversee a respite facility and have some responsibilities in the home care side of the business.
Have you always worked in social services? Yes, I have always worked in care.
What made you choose the career you have now? When I was younger I spent a lot of time with my gran and grandad. Unfortunately, the older I got, my grandparents both became unwell. My gran suffered from depression and pancreatic cancer and my granddad suffered from throat cancer. I spent a lot of time caring for them. When they passed away I was at the point of leaving school and pursuing a career. Initially I wanted to work in the police however I decided to give a career in care a go, which stems back from caring for my grandparents. I worked in a nursing home looking after people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. I thoroughly enjoyed this and never looked back. In my time at the nursing home I got my SVQ2 and 3. I then moved on to work in learning disability and worked with people that had Prader Willi Syndrome. This was at the only home to support Prader Willi Syndrome in Scotland. This was a very challenging and rewarding job. I moved up the ladder there from support worker, to shift leader then onto team leader where I started to take on more of a management responsibility. After three years I decided to move on and effectively got a promotion when I joined Blackwood Care as Assistant Manager.
Can you tell us more about your job? I currently work a shift pattern with a team of five support workers. I supervise and appraise nine staff, this is a mixture of day and night staff. I ensure the shift runs smoothly on a daily basis, administering the medication (also dealing with ordering/returning the medication) and signing out any resident’s monies. I deal with any problems that may arise on a day to day basis. I help organise and coordinate staff training. I regularly attend meetings to help improve the care that we provide. I help with the recruitment process, organising and carrying out interviews. Other aspects of the job may be assisting with the rotas, monthly reports, reporting on repairs that are required and wages. There are many other little jobs that come up on a daily basis.  
Who else is in your team? The staff at Broom Court are excellent. The managers I work alongside, whether it is the regional manager, the manager or other assistant managers, are very approachable and supportive. The support team provide excellent care to the residents. I am part of a team of six incredible people who always put the people we care for first. We have managers, support workers, relief support workers, admin staff, kitchen staff, domestic staff and much more.  
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? I work alongside many other professionals. This can be doctors, nurses, social workers and much more.
What part of the job motivates you and why? There are two parts of the job that specifically motivate me. The first being the job that I do can make a real difference to an individual’s life. Ensuring they get the best care and support possible. Ultimately ensuring that individuals live to their full potential. Secondly, I really enjoy helping staff develop. Former managers supported me and gave me opportunities and the confidence to develop and I’m grateful for that as it has helped me get to where I am today. There is no better feeling than seeing an individual progressing.
What are the best bits about your job? The best bits about my job are seeing the residents happy with smiles on their faces, achieving any goals or ambitions that they may have. It goes back to what motivates me, knowing I am making a difference to someone’s life.
What are the challenges that you face in your job? The challenges I face on a day to day basis can sometimes be dealing with a resident that is ill and making sure they get the care or help that they might require. Covering shifts at short notice if staff phone in sick. There’s lots of little challenges that may arise such as repairs, any issues the residents may have, staff management issues etc.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? The satisfaction payback of my job is huge. You can make a real difference to someone’s life. There’s lots of opportunities to progress your career in social services, there’s so many different roles. If you’re ambitious you can go far.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? I think you need to have good staff management skills. You need to be willing to work with both the staff and the residents to build up trust which also means having good people skills and good teamwork. It is important to have a caring nature and to also be a very patient individual. It is essential to have good communication skills.  
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have had lots of training including SVQ4, mental health awareness, moving and handling, infection control, health and safety and fire awareness. I will also be starting training on dealing with difficult situations, dementia training, the principles of end of life care and team leading training.  
How do you see your career progressing? So far I have built myself up to assistant manager over the past five years. I’m only 23 and the next step would be manager. I want to continue to develop, whether it is manager, regional manager or even diversifying to another aspect, like becoming a care inspector. I am really passionate about care and I am enjoying caring for people in a different way now as to when I first started my career.  
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would recommend a career in social services. It is such a rewarding career and you meet some incredible people. 

 

'It's heart-warming knowing you can make a difference to someone's day, even if you don't know you have.'

Jozi Stables, Support Team Manager

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Jozi works with Balhousie Care Group and has always had an interest in caring for people.

 

What type of service do you work in?

I currently care for elderly people in a residential and nursing environment.

Have you always worked in social services? Yes, I have worked in health and social care since the age of 15 where I started as a kitchen assistant in a care home.
What made you choose the career you have now? When I was 15 I knew I wanted to be involved in working in care and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to do this. I have always had an interest in caring for people and being in a position where I can help people as much as possible.
Can you tell us more about your job? I currently work as a support team manager, this involves working closely with the general manager, staff and families to ensure we are providing the best possible service and ensuring all our residents are happy and satisfied with the level of care they receive.
What are you working on at the moment?

Personally – a management qualification.

Within the care home – intergenerational work with the local schools and nursery. Connecting with the community and working with different groups of people to see what we can work on together as a home and as a community.

Who else is in your team? The general manager, team leaders, care assistants and domiciliary staff.
Do you work with other professionals and in what ways? We work closely with NHS staff and social workers. This includes staff training, resident reviews, community network meetings and link work with the schools etc.
What part of the job motivates you and why? My whole job role motivates me, I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I find it very rewarding and heart-warming knowing you can make a difference to someone’s day, even if you don’t know you have.
What are the best bits about your job? It’s hard to point out the best bits as there is so much to enjoy but to me getting to know residents and their life stories, knowing little important things about them that you can help them to continue to enjoy in a care home, hearing feedback from residents, their families and the community about how happy they are with the service we provide is what makes me love the job the most.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? It is just natural that we all face challenges but I try to deal with them as positively as possible and we have to realise that sometimes there is nothing we can do about some situations but to move on from them.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? When your whole team are happy – that is when you know everyone is doing a good job.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? You need to be a caring natured person, you need to love the job and have a real passion for it. It is not something you can do half-heartedly. You need to want to have a positive influence in people’s lives.  You need to be a caring natured person, you need to love the job and have a real passion for it. It is not something you can do half-heartedly. You need to want to have a positive influence in people’s lives. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Definitely. Since starting in working in social care I have gained numerous work based and distance learning qualifications.
How do you see your career progressing? To become a care home manager.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? If you have a passion for the job then to definitely pursue it, there are so many opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge once you are in the role. The opportunities I have come across to develop have been countless and the support has been incredible. It is the most rewarding and satisfying job I could ever ask for.

 

Providing care at home

'Enabling an individual to live as full and independent life as possible is really rewarding.'

Louise Barclay, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Louise has worked in social services for 20 years. Read more about her role as Support Worker at Banff Supported Living Project (BSLP).

 

What's the role of your service We support people with learning disabilities to live as independently as possible within their own home. BSLP provides 24-hour care delivered by a team of support workers, like myself. 
As a support worker what does your job entail?

 My role is to assist people using our service with their personal care and support plans. I help them get up in the morning, have breakfast, organise the day’s medication and get ready for the day ahead, whether that be at Banff Day Services, a home day activity or simply enjoying a day at BSLP. If they attend day services, it’s my responsibility to help them onto the morning bus and greet them when they return from their day away.

Alternatively, the person may prefer to attend a home day activity such as a pottery class, horse riding, visit their parents, pop along to the bank or pick up their groceries. As a support worker it is my role to assist service users in all day care activities (which also includes activities in the evening, such as dances, club nights and many more).

On average, I work 25 hours a week although this can vary from week to week. Under the BSLP, I am responsible for three services users ranging in ages from 36 to 62 years old.

What are you working on at the moment?

Each service user has a tailored day care plan. With the responsibility of three service users, I am constantly updating each care plan to make sure selected activities best match the user’s needs, abilities and wishes.

Activities range from music, touch screen computer classes and visits to the local rugby club to therapeutic sessions, trampolining, arts and crafts, walking groups, knitting and sewing to name a few.  

Who else is in your team? Relating to the work I carry out with BLSP, I have a manager and one assistant manager in my direct team. They oversee the work carried out by the social service care officer, myself and seven colleagues. 
What part of the job motivates you and why? To know that a technique or an idea that you have suggested has been implemented across the service and has proven to help service users live as independently as possible. 
What challenges do you face in your job?  One of my biggest challenges is time management and prioritising what is important. For example, one of my service users has to rest 30 minutes after he has eaten before he travels. This is an additional factor that needs to be taken into account when planning the day’s activities.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Enabling an individual to live as full and independent life as possible is really rewarding. 
What training and development opportunities have you undertaken in your current job? I’ve recently carried out training on theory of calm, moving and handling, first aid, food hygiene, sensory awareness, epilepsy, medical management, eating, drinking and swallowing workshop, dementia awareness, SVQ Level 3, adult support and protection, key worker course, respect and diversity, data protection and partners in communication. 
How do you see your career progressing? The next step for me would be management, but I’m happy in my current role and enjoy the hours I work.  
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? If you think you can enable in a positive way, then this is the job for you. 
 

'Joining the Rapid Response team through my apprenticeship was the best decision'

Jade McAllister, Social Care Officer

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

 Jade is currently studying towards and SVQ2. She is sometimes faced with things that she has not had previous experience of but she has the support of her team to overcome these challenges.

Tell us a bit about the service you work in. The Rapid Response Service is a new way for the Council and health services working together to give people whose needs suddenly change immediate access to support which will allow them to remain in their own home. We also do visits for social workers/out-of-hours and transport home from hospital or home to care home. 
Have you always worked in social services?  No, I started studying health and social care at Perth College but felt I needed more experience in the field first. I had my placement at Rannoch Day Centre which is for people who have dementia and I volunteered there for seven months before applying for a modern apprenticeship in social care with Perth and Kinross Council. After four months of gaining experience and training I was able to apply for the position of a social care officer and was successful.
What made you choose the career you have now? I have always wanted a job that involves interacting with different people on a daily basis and I felt I had the people skills and the motivation to pursue this. As an apprentice I found the Rapid Response team to be a great starting point for my career as it taught me the basics of care and I began to understand the different roles and responsibilities that came with it. Also, every day is different and we are faced with new challenges and cases. Every person that uses the service has a different need to the person before and I have learnt how to adapt to each individual to give the best care I can due to the knowledge and experience I have gained being with Rapid Response. I am still learning something new every day. I feel that leaving college and joining the Rapid Response team through my apprenticeship was the best decision as it has given me all the experience I hoped to gain and more and with the different work I have carried out it has given me the confidence I need to enhance my career. 
So what does your job involve? The Rapid Response team is a multi-disciplinary support service that provides care to adults immediately that are considered to be in crisis and our main aim is to prevent admission to hospital. Rapid Response is a 24 hour service. We provide care to adults that have a diagnosis of dementia, learning difficulties, people who are receiving palliative care and wish to stay at home and much more. We are able to provide care such as washing, dressing, continence care, meal preparation and medicine prompting. We deliver equipment such as commodes, chair raisers or bed sticks. We provide one off visits to people that social workers may have concern for and can also act as a second person in child protection cases. We work closely with health professionals and social care workers in the aim to provide people with the right care needed for them. 
What are you working on at the moment? I am currently working on my SVQ and have found this easy to do as I have many varied experiences to write about due to working at Rapid Response. 
What qualifications do you need for your job? An SVQ2 and work experience in social care. 
Who else is in your team? The team is made up of 13 staff members who work 12 hour shifts including a manager and a senior officer. 
Do you work with other types of professionals? Yes, we work closely with GPs, nurses (also Marie Curie and Macmillan), social workers, community care assistants and other care agencies. 
What part of the job motivates you? I think the main part of the job that motivates me is knowing that I am making a difference to someone’s life and supporting them to become independent again or knowing that I have helped someone who’s wish was to remain at home in their last few days. Also when I see someone improve dramatically through the days of Rapid Response support. I feel motivated when the team is presented with positive feedback from service users or their family and friends or other professionals. I feel motivated every day I come to work as I hope to gain new experiences and knowledge as I would like to go further in my career. 
What are the best bits about your job?

Interacting with different people (service users and in the work place).

Being offered a variety of up-to-date training that enhances my skills and knowledge and feeling that I have made a difference to someone that required support and prevented hospital admission. 

What are the challenges you face in your job?  Sometimes I am faced with things that I have not had previous experience of or I am unaware how to handle a situation effectively however the Rapid Response team is made up of workers from all different backgrounds and we all support and learn from each other as some are experienced with child care, dementia, drugs and alcohol and homecare.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? It is rewarding in many ways, for example I feel I am making a difference to someone and providing them with a better quality of life due to the care I provided. Encouraging someone to be independent in the areas that they need no assistance with and seeing that improvement grow. Also as Rapid Response work mainly with people aged 65+ we notice that some people’s moods are changed instantly by just having someone to talk to as we may be the only faces they see that day. 
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? The ability to work with all types of people effectively and to be patient and understanding. To contribute to the protection of individuals from abuse. To ensure that practice is at all times anti-discriminatory. To adhere to the values, principles, operational instructions and guidance of the service and Perth and Kinross Codes of Practice, experience of caring for vulnerable people in the community (for example older people, people with physical or learning disabilities and people with dementia), understanding the needs of people who are vulnerable or at risk, the ability to cope calmly with emergency situations, the ability to cope sensitively with death and bereavement and also efficient and effective communication. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes, as I feel the management are very good at encouraging staff to take the many opportunities that are given to them whether it be training or up skilling or applying for another position in social care. For example I was given the opportunity to be given the training for Dementia level 1 and I am eager to cover the next modules after this as I am very interested in increasing my knowledge of dementia. 
How do you see your career progressing? I would see my career progressing due to the knowledge I have gained in my job role by completing an SVQ3 or applying to the Open University to study social work. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would highly recommend it as I have enjoyed my time so far working in social care and it is a growing profession with many opportunities that can enhance your career and we impact on many individuals’ lives. Also every day is different, especially with the Rapid Response team as we cover a range of different services. 

'If you have a genuine desire to help people, don’t mind getting your hands dirty… then do it.'

Ann Timmons, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Ann is a support worker with Gowrie Care. She supports men with learning difficulties who need help with daily living.

What type of service do you work in?

I work at Birkdale, we support six men aged from 17-65 with learning difficulties of varying degrees, ranging from severely autistic to mild learning difficulties, including a blind man and two young men who attend college with support of staff.

Have you always worked in social services? No, previously I worked in retail for 20 years.
Can you tell us more about your job?

It is person centred so can range from a person not being able to function in any area of daily living to a person requiring help with certain aspects.

My job includes personal care, shopping, menu planning, cooking, cleaning, finances, medication, health – physical and mental wellbeing, supporting people to activities, accessing the community and giving someone encouragement to be the best they can be.

What made you choose the career you have now? I needed a change. I worked with people every day, mostly very pleasant and a few very difficult. I was used to public and staff and dealing with challenging situations.

I have good people skills, parenting skills and life skills and felt these were the skills needed to support people who need help with daily living.

What are you working on at the moment?

Encouraging a man to go out in public, group outings, parks, out for lunch and visits to parent all things he had not done until the past year or so.

Who else is in your team?

Men and women, younger and older. Some with years of experience and some with no previous experience at all.

Do you work with other professionals in other sectors?

Yes, we work with health care workers, doctors, hospital staff, dentists - every aspect of a persons wellbeing. Also other agencies, SALT (speech and language therapists) BSI (behavioural support and intervention team), district nurses, care managers, solicitors and college tutors.

What part of the job motivates you and why?

Encouraging independence - it’s great to see someone achieve something for themselves.

What are the best bits about your job?

Encouraging someone with something new and watching their progress.

What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

Challenging behaviours physical and verbal – this can be good and not so good, at worst you can be injured/hurt or upset and at best you can find out why the behaviours are happening, support the person to manage their behaviour by getting them the right support.

You are given mandatory training such as health and safety, basic first aid, communication, moving and handling etc. I have been given the opportunity to do an SVQ funded by the company, specialist training specific to the needs of the gentleman at my service such as autism awareness, epilepsy, peg feeding, palliative care.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding?

Just knowing the days you’ve made a difference to someone’s life.

Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing?

Patience, understanding, ability to listen and to recognise how a person is - not always by words but body language, behaviours and actions, and an understanding that no individual is the same.
Also a person with learning difficulties is entitled to make informed choices, be given opportunities and have the same basic human rights as any other member of society.
Also knowing how to run a successful home and parenting and people skills can be adapted for this role.

What qualifications do you need for this job?

No qualifications are required at the moment but you must be willing to work towards SVQ2.

Has your job opened up new learning and development for you?

You are given mandatory training such as health and safety, basic first aid, communication, moving and handling etc. I have been given the opportunity to do an SVQ funded by the company, specialist training specific to the needs of the gentleman at my service such as autism awareness, epilepsy, peg feeding, palliative care.

How do you see your career progressing?

I am happy with my role however I do volunteer to help when needed at other projects, service user holidays etc

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services?

If you have a genuine desire to help people, don’t mind getting your hands dirty and enjoy watching someone make even what seems to be the smallest progress and are willing to learn as you go then do it.

'I always liked the idea of helping people who needed help to reach their full potential in life.'

Jonathan Rowan, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Jonathan works with young men who have autism. Read his story here. 

What type of service do you work in? I work in a Gowrie Care outreach project supporting individuals with autism and a range of learning difficulties.
Have you always worked in social services? I have not always worked in social care; I worked as a joiner before.
What made you choose the career you have now? I always liked the idea of helping people who needed help to reach their full potential in life.
Can you tell us more about your job? I work mostly with young men who have autism, each with individual needs and characters. As I am a support worker in an outreach project most days I am out in the community supporting individuals. No day is ever the same
What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment two other staff members and I are setting up a cycling group, we have received funding to buy bikes and storage for them. We are currently working with individuals from the service to see what ideas they can come up with.

Who else is in your team? We have a staff team of 12 with two managers who work out of our office.
What qualifications do you need for this job? You must be willing to work towards SVQ 2/3 in social services and healthcare.
Do you work with other professionals and in what ways? Yes we work with other professionals almost every day, doctors and other health professions.
What part of the job motivates you and why? The fact that I get to help people every day.
What are the best bits about your job? Seeing positive outcomes.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

We sometimes face challenging behaviours (violence and aggression).

Sometimes, a good challenge can be getting to know new service users.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? In every way.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? You need to be outgoing and focused on wanting to make a difference to other people’s lives, you need to be a good listener and talker, work well as part of a team and self motivated.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes I have received many certificates for training with the company. I have also had the chance to become an in-house trainer.
How do you see your career progressing? In the future I would look to become either a senior support worker or look towards an assistant manager post.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Definetely go for it!

 

'Being in a position to aid in the provision of social justice in any shape or form, I find very rewarding indeed.'

Scott Mitchell, Social Care Officer

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

 Scott served in the Army before working in social care.

Tell us a bit about the service you work in. I work in the Rapid Response Team at Perth and Kinross Council. Our main remit since launching in April 2011 has been to prevent unplanned, unnecessary or short admissions to hospitals or residential establishments. This has proved to be a very broad remit, encompassing most aspects of health and social care. Keeping people at home under often challenging circumstances has highlighted the need for better integration between health and social care services, as it only works well when the services work well together. 
Have you always worked in social services? I only came into social care in 2008, before this I served in the Army. 
What made you choose the career you have now? The need to do something positive in society and try to make a positive change wherever I work. 
Can you tell us more about your job? We support all walks of life and every section of the community has been represented in the Rapid Response spreadsheets. We work a 12hr shift pattern, service provision covers 24hrs a day, 356 days a year. We support palliative clients to remain at home, and can arrange this at very short notice. We support social work out of hours with child protection issues. We support older people who experience urinary tract infections to remain at home until it has cleared, we support those experiencing the effects of substance misuse. Crisis response work can be as interesting as it is varied. 
What are you working on at the moment?  I have just completed an SVQ 3 in Healthcare and Social Services and I’m about to undertake a degree in Sociology with the Open University.
Who else is in your team? Our team comprises of people with a wide range of experience, in line with our client base. We have people who have worked in homecare, residential homes, education, learning disabilities and mental health/substance abuse. 
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? We work very closely with doctors, nurses and mental health officers in our primary role of prevention of admissions. 
What part of the job motivates you and why? Meeting people and the human condition in all its forms. 
What are the best bits about your job? Seeing people recover from crisis situations and the sheer diversity of the work. 
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? As the team is temporary, we are constantly striving to evidence our work as strongly as possible. This uncertainty can take its toll. I think any other challenge, on the client contact side, can only be good. As practitioners we need to be challenged regularly or we stagnate and become apathetic. 
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Being in a position to aid in the provision of social justice in any shape or form, I find very rewarding indeed. 
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Gerard Egan’s three core conditions sum up some of them perfectly. Congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard. You must be able to communicate effectively on many levels when dealing with such a broad client base. Recording and reporting skills will also go far, but I do not believe skills which can be learned easily are as important in social care as a person’s natural qualities. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Without doubt. I only wish I had started my career in social care when I left school. The only qualifications I have worth anything are my social care ones. My Job allowed me to attain SVQ3 and be able to further my career, if I so wish. 
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to work as a social work assistant or community care assistant. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Just do it, you won’t regret it. 

 

'I feel that I have made a positive difference when I finish a day at work'

James Russell, Social Care Officer 

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

 James believes that helping a person in a time of need is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do.

What type of service do you work in? The Rapid Response provides crisis care to prevent primarily older people being admitted to a care home or hospital by providing care at home with immediate effect when ill health or a crisis occurs. In nearly every case that I have been involved with elderly people would rather stay at home than have to go into hospital. Not only does this benefit the client but also reduces the cost of NHS/care home admissions. Figures estimate it costs an average of around £350-£500 per day for a hospital stay.  
Have you always worked in social services? No, previously I worked in photography/digital design. 
What made you choose the career you have now? Working in a worthwhile, rewarding profession that is contributing to the community that I live in. Finishing a day at work and feeling that I have made a positive difference. 
Can you tell us more about your job?

As a social care officer within the Rapid Response team I:

  • carry out personal care tasks, such as toileting and continence care
  • assist with meals
  • prompt or administer medication
  • highlight any changes in the client's condition to relevant professionals/ services.

If support is required from a district nurse, social worker, occupational therapist (OT) or physiotherapist, this can also be arranged.

We also work with OT equipment, the community alarm service, support social workers and district nurses, GPs, and carers, palliative care, stoma care, carry out ad-hoc visits and cover the whole of Perth and Kinross 24hrs a day 365 days a year.  

What are you working on at the moment? A new project called ‘Housing with additional support needs’. This project is a service which enables clients who at times feel like they may need more support but wish to retain their independence and stay at home. This could be for everyday tasks such as preparing a meal or personal/care/dressing. The project works by the service user pressing an alarm which indicates that support is required, we then respond to that call to provide the support/care that the client needs. The good thing with this service is that the client can summon help whenever they need it rather than waiting for a social care officer to arrive at a scheduled time. 
Who else is in your team? 13 social care officers, a district nurse, senior practitioners, management and administrative staff. 
What qualifications do you need for this job? Various training is required before carrying out this job but generally all of this is provided by your employer, however a genuine caring nature and life experience is more important. 
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? Yes we continuously liaise with doctors, district nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, other care teams. Holistically working and keeping all parties informed leads to a more efficient practise. 
What part of the job motivates you and why? Helping a person in a time of need is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do. Empathy is the key. The ability to earn to provide for my family in a job that I actually enjoy. 
What are the best bits about your job? Great team with different backgrounds and skills, fantastic management support, good career prospects and access to further education. 
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

Good: Communicating with a service user who is deaf/partially sighted or has another communication issue and finding a way that you can communicate is a challenge I enjoy.

Not so good: Seeing a person in pain or sad and being unable to help particularly in palliative cases.  

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Seeing a client improve to the point where they are fit and healthy and independent again. 
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Empathy is the key for this role. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, not necessarily understanding but appreciating another person’s circumstances, local area knowledge, good sense of roads, intuition, life experience, common sense, caring nature, non-judgemental approach, thick skinned, team player but with the ability to work on your own, organisational skills, time management, IT skills, ability to concentrate for long periods of time eg driving. Remaining calm in a crisis situation. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes, working within Rapid Response we have direct communication with senior practitioners, key workers, coordinators, other health care teams and occupational therapists. By working so closely with the wider social care team it has enabled me to see and learn the whole process and understand the rewards and difficulties that all teams face. Studying for the SVQ level three has opened up new career paths. 
How do you see your career progressing? Studying toward gaining a degree in social work. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Do it! 

 

'Seeing the service users happy and content and being able to do new things is rewarding for staff to see.'

Sarah Morrison, Assistant Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here

Sarah works at Gowrie Care's Hillbank service where she cares for four adults with disabilities.                                 

 

What type of service do you work in?

Hillbank is a residential service where four service users live, each with different levels of needs and disabilities. 

Have you always worked in social services? No, I used to be a university student working in retail part time.
What made you choose the career you have now? After I graduated I wanted to find a job working with people with disabilities.
Can you tell us more about your job?

Four service users require support with all aspects of their lives, for example shopping, cooking, personal care, going out in the community and socialising.

All the service users have care plans, support plans and risk assessments which the key workers and co-key workers keep up to date.

What are you working on at the moment?

My medication toolkit which will allow me to administer medication to the service users.

What qualifications do you need for this job? You must be willing to work towards an SVQ2 if you don’t already have it.
Who else is in your team? An assistant support worker, support workers, assistant manager, unit manager and an area manager.
Do you work with other professionals and in what ways? I work with care managers, health care professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses etc.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Seeing the service users happy and seeing them develop.
What are the best bits about your job? Seeing the service users happy. Assisting them to have fun - such as shopping, going out for tea or socialising with friends and fellow housemates.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Challenging behaviour from service users and also when they’re not well.

Shifts where we are short staffed - but it keeps us busy.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Seeing the service users happy and content and being able to do new things is rewarding for staff to see.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Being a patient, hardworking, caring, empathetic, fun person.

Being able to do personal care.

Being able to have a laugh and a joke.

Being able to work with lots of different people and on your own.

Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Developed my understanding of the National Care Standards and the SSSC.

Also moving and handling, people skills and medication.

How do you see your career progressing? Develop my skill set by pushing myself to complete paper work and new things I haven’t done within my role so far. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? It can be a tough job, but that it is rewarding and a great way to develop your understanding of working with those who have learning disabilities and mental health issues.

 

'nothing beats the feeling you get from making others happy'

Stephanie Gormley, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Stephanie is a support worker with Gowrie Care and chose a career in social services as she enjoys helping others.

What type of service do you work in? It is supported living for four people who use wheelchairs who have a range of complex needs and need support with daily living.
Have you always worked in social services? Yes, I worked in a care home before working with Gowrie Care.
What made you choose the career you have now? It’s always what I wanted to do as I enjoy helping others.
Can you tell us more about your job? I support four people who use wheelchairs with every aspect of their daily life such as personal care, medication, finances, meal times etc.
Can you give us an example of something that you working on at the moment? I am currently working on a service user review.
What qualifications do you need for this job? You need to be willing to work towards your SVQ. I already had my SVQ 2 before starting here.
Who else is in your team? Manager, assistant manager, support workers, assistant support workers and students.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? Yes, we liaise with other health care professionals to ensure the health and wellbeing of our service users and to make sure all of their needs are met. We work with GP’s, dentists and psychiatrists.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Knowing that I can support individuals to live their lives in a way they otherwise wouldn’t be able to without help makes me feel like I am really achieving something in life.
What are the best bits about your job? Making the individuals happy as it gives me a great sense of achievement making others happy.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? I like a challenge and every day isn’t the same. Individuals have mood changes and this can prove difficult when supporting them with tasks.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I make others happy and I love doing this.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? I think you need to be patient, understanding, empathetic, a good listener, kind, caring, compassionate and many others.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you and if so what kind of things? Yes I have attended various training courses. I really enjoyed doing the Makaton course so I can now sign to the people who use the service.
How do you see your career progressing? I want to be a mental health nurse and I am currently doing the access to nursing course.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would say go for it, it is such a rewarding job and nothing beats the feeling you get from making others happy.

 

'Good challenges are supporting the ladies to learn new tasks and often being able to have a laugh while doing so.'

Aileen Scott, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Aileen’s role is to help people in her care with all daily living tasks and personal care. Read her story here.

Tell us about the service you work in I am part of a small team who support two ladies in their own house. 24 hour care for one elderly lady and semi support for a younger lady who requires support with cooking, shopping and household tasks.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? I worked in a care home before entering full time study at art college.
What made you choose the career you have now? I did some volunteer work with people who lived in hostel accommodation doing art work with them. I was unemployed after graduating and was asked to apply for care work as I had some experience.
Can you tell us more about your job? Lone working supporting both ladies by following their support/care plans with all daily living tasks and personal care.
Can you give us an example of something that you working on at the moment? Writing seasonal newsletters (winter/spring/summer/autumn) with news about what activities/outings the ladies have been supported and involved in. The ladies decide what they want written about and what photos to include before it is printed.
What qualifications do you need for this job? Required SVQ3 which I gained while working in this job.
Can you explain who else is on your team? Five support workers, one assistant manager, one manager and one area manager.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? I work with all relevant outside agencies eg social care manager to organise and write reviews, council repairs for house, all health related departments and anybody else that the ladies need to contact.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Working with the ladies, especially supporting and encouraging independence where possible. One lady is now managing her own medication but previously staff had to watch her taking medication.
What are the best bits about your job? When my shift allows a choice of activity on the day, dependent on weather. Summertime is good for this and usually turns out to be relaxing time.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? The challenges tend to be with the ladies behaviour and at times continually seeking staff or loud verbal behaviour.

Good challenges are supporting the ladies to learn new tasks and often being able to have a laugh while doing so.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Supporting the ladies and watching how they progress in being more independent and their enjoyment in achieving a task they previously could not perform.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? The ability to be flexible, patient, computer literate, trustworthy, approachable and be confident in your own ability. Also good interaction between yourself and people who use services.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you and if so what kind of things? I have refresher training in several areas including first aid, mapa, moving and handling and health and safety. Any new training available and specific to project.
How do you see your career progressing? If I progressed I would like to retrain in another area of the job.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? If you’re unsure, try working in various departments before deciding where you want to have a career. Do not go into a care job expecting to know the people who use services after a first visit, it takes time for them as well as yourself.

 

'I want to provide the best possible service for the people I support and this spurs me on to ensure that others do their best too.'

Jennifer Jones, Assistant Manager

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Jennifer works for Gowrie Care and has worked in care for 14 years. Read her story here.

What type of service do you work in? I work in a service that supports four service users who all have a physical disability and are wheelchair users. Each person also has a learning disability ranging from mild to moderate. I support each person in all aspects of their day to day lives, from personal care to accessing the wider community. The service also provides outreach support to two service users; one is on the autistic spectrum and receives social support and support with maintaining their own home. The other outreach service user receives support with social activities and to develop independent living skills before moving out of their family home and into their own tenancy.
Have you always worked in social services? I left school at 16 and worked in a boarding kennel for dogs and cats. I enjoyed the work but the owners relocated so I moved to retail. I gained two SVQs and was promoted to supervisor but I did not enjoy the work. I decided to apply for college as I had experience caring for family members which I enjoyed. After completing two years at college I was offered a full time job from my college placement. That was in 2002 and I’ve worked in care since then in a variety of different services although always with people who have a learning disability.
What made you choose the career you have now? My father became unwell when I was 13. My mother, sister and I all became his carers and I also supported a friend with her child who had physical and learning disabilities. Although this was very challenging, especially with my father, I also found it immensely rewarding.
Can you tell us more about your job?

I am the assistant manager in the service and my time is split 50/50 between managerial duties and direct support to service users. I supervise 11 staff members and two HNC students.

I support all service users to live as independently as possible.

Can you give an example of something that you are working on at the moment? I am working to improve the team’s knowledge and skills. The service is very different to how it was a year ago so all staff need support to adapt their working practices to best support the service users.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I will need to gain an SVQ level 4. I am currently in a fixed term post and will be able to start this if my post becomes permanent.
Who else is in your team?

There are three support workers who each have key working duties for one or two service users. We also have assistant support workers.

Everyone on the team delivers the same level of direct support to service users regardless of their designation.

Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? Yes, several. Occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, GPs, specialist nurses and consultants and care managers.
What part of the job motivates you and why? I want to provide the best possible service for the people I support and this spurs me on to ensure that others do their best too.
What are the best bits about your job? Seeing service users and staff develop. Service users becoming more independent and doing more for themselves. And for staff - the sense of achievement they have when they develop their skills.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

Keeping staff motivated, when one person feels unmotivated this can quickly spread to the rest of the team. Finding ways to keep staff morale up is very challenging.

Supporting service users to understand their own behaviours and how to manage their stresses and worries through a safe medium is also very challenging but even more rewarding as you can see the person visibly look more relaxed and happier with their life in general.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Lots of ways. I support people to live as independently as possible. I have previously worked in a long stay hospital and the difference in the support that people receive now is incredible. I truly believe that the people I support are living the lives they want to and are making their own decisions.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Being able to think on your feet and to be able to use your initiative. Having a sense of humour and not taking yourself too seriously is a must. Being well organised is a good skill to have in this line of work.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes. As an assistant manager now I learn something new on almost a daily basis. My employer also provides very relevant and interesting training too.
How do you see your career progressing? I’d like to stay in my current role for a few years. I have a lot to learn but feel that the support I receive from my managers and colleagues will help me to get there. I want to continue to progress in the management route.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Try it. It can be so rewarding and it’s different all the time.

 

'I enjoy working with people and helping them realise their potential.'

Ashley Sparks, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Ashley works as a support worker in a care home and enjoys helping people to realise their potential.

What type of service do you work in? Care at home.
Have you always worked in social services? No, I was a student and a retail assistant.
What made you choose the career you have now? I enjoy working with people and helping them realise their potential. Personal/family experiences gave me the motivation to work in the support/care sector and I would love it if this type of work helped me progress in my career.
Can you tell us more about your job? I support men with learning disabilities with their daily living activities such as cooking, cleaning and supporting the men to gain more skills/independence within their home. I make sure all the service users are safe by creating necessary risk assessments/support plans especially for the individual that I am key worker for. I help with the management of the individual’s finances and administration of medication in accordance to Gowrie Care’s policy and procedures.
Can you give an example of something that you are working on at the moment? As well as my day to day duties I am also a champion for creating a quarterly newsletter to show each individual’s progress and sharing what they have been up to every three months with their family. I also work on creating pictorial communication aids for each person.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I require an SVQ 3 in health and social care which I am currently working towards achieving.
Who else is in your team? As a support worker I have a line manager and unit manager. I work with six other support workers and there are also assistant support workers that help with co-key working duties alongside me and other support workers.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? I work with social workers, dieticians, nurses, GP’s and other professionals as it is part of my role to help my service user work with these professionals to ensure their health/welfare is in good condition.
What part of the job motivates you and why? The fact that it can help me move on to a career in social work, seeing good results and happy service users.
What are the best bits about your job? Helping others.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? It’s challenging seeing my service users with poor health.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Helping others realise their potential and seeing the individuals gain more independence living in their own home.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Empathy, understanding, good team working, understanding SSSC Codes of Practise ie maintaining dignity, respect, fairness and equality.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Gaining an SVQ 2, mandatory training.
How do you see your career progressing? I want to go on to university and if not then progress to management.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Do it! For the enjoyment of making others happy.

 

'I would encourage anyone to take up this career choice as it is very rewarding.'

Colin Mackie, Assistant Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Colin works at Gowrie Care’s Hillbank service but he hasn’t always worked in social services.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? Hillbank supports four wheelchair users with learning disabilities to live as independently as possible.
Have you always worked in social services? No, I previously worked for DC Thomson.
What made you choose the career you have now? I got made redundant after 33 years and chose a new career path.
Can you tell us more about your job? I support four service users in wheelchairs with learning disabilities. My role includes personal care, assisting with meals, personal shopping, medication, moving and handling and paperwork.
Can you give an example of something that you are working on at the moment? In the process of moving a new service user in to the project.
What qualifications do you need for this job? You have to be willing to work towards an SVQ qualification.
Who else is in your team? Assistant support workers, support workers, assistant manager and an area manager.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? We work with care managers, GP’s, dentists and day centre staff.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Seeing the people who use the service happy.
What are the best bits about your job? Taking service users out to activities ie cinema, meals out, clubs and holidays.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? We can have times when service users are unwell, challenging behaviour and bereavements.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Making sure the people who use the service have an independent lifestyle.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Life skills, people skills, patience, empathy, humour and common sense.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? It has improved my understanding of people with mental health and learning disabilities.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would encourage anyone to take up this career choice as it is very rewarding.

 

'The part that motivates me is the self achievement that you get seeing the service users happy and able to live their life through the help of staff.'

Laurie Millen, Assistant Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Laurie previously worked as a volunteer at the Royal Victoria hospital and this helped her choose her career with Gowrie Care.

What type of service do you work in? I work in a supported accommodation where there are three service users who are all wheelchair users with learning difficulties. I undertake personal care, finance and giving the individuals an independent life.
Have you always worked in social services? No, I worked in a pub while I was still at school.
What made you choose the career you have now? My mum and gran are carers and I used to volunteer in the Royal Victoria Hospital so this experience made me want to get into care.
Can you tell us more about your job? I am an assistant support worker. I help the service users to live an independent life and support them to do tasks they can’t carry out. I’m a co keyworker and I help the keyworker to make support plans and risk assessments for the service user’s file to make sure they can live their life to the best of their ability.
Can you give an example of something that you are working on at the moment? I am working on the newsletter for my project. I have been taking pictures of the service users doing things they enjoy and the events they have been to recently to show everyone that it can be done and they have fun.
What qualifications do you need for this job? Willing to work towards an SVQ 2.
Who else is in your team? Support workers, assistant support workers, assistant managers and line managers.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? Yes. Doctors, care managers, day centre staff and health professionals.
What part of the job motivates you and why? The part that motivates me is the self achievement that you get seeing the service users happy and able to live their life through the help of staff.
What are the best bits about your job? The best bits are getting to take the service users to do new things. You get to see the service users expand in their knowledge and do things they never thought they could.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Supporting individuals with end of life care can be good and not so good because you are supporting that individual to be as comfortable as possible.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? It’s rewarding because you are changing someone’s life for the better.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? The key skills and qualities that I think you need are patience and understanding.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? My job has opened so many learning and development opportunities for me as I have done my SVQ 2 and I have been on so much training. I have learned how to speak Makaton to service users who have communication difficulties.
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to progress to be a support worker and further my knowledge.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I would say that a career in social services is a rewarding job and fun.

 

Working in a day care service

'There are many and varied opportunities for all workers to try'

John Duncanson, Senior Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

John previously worked in shipyards, construction of oil rigs, steel works and managed a bespoke plumbing factory but has never looked back since starting in social services. 

 

 

What type of service do you work in? I am a senior support worker with CrossReach. The service supports adults with learning disabilities. 
What made you choose the career you have now? I started to get involved in a SPRED group which supports adults with learning disabilities. It seemed the next step in my career. 
Can you tell us more about your job? I am the registered manager for the project. This involves contact with the SSSC and Care Inspectorate. More importantly I want to make sure that all customers and workers are involved in the direction the project takes. It is also a seven day service as it’s important that customers have choice. 
Who else is in your team? There is one project worker who shares responsibility with me. There is a regular group of 24 workers covering various shifts and activities. 
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? Yes, at various times I will have contact with medical professionals, social workers, the Care Inspectorate and many more. It always depends on the particular circumstances. 
What part of the job motivates you and why? Supporting people and being part of their lives. It’s not like work I experienced before. It can be so rewarding to support somebody to learn new skills or try new experiences. Equally I have learned a lot from the people I support. 
What are the best bits about your job? Being involved with people and sharing experiences. 
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? There are challenges such as how to meet personalisation and how this is implemented. But it’s important to support the people to have the best possible life. 
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Be willing to share, listen, offer, show patience, keep learning new skills, encourage others. 
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Yes, I would never have thought I could achieve SVQ awards. To be honest I never knew what they were before I came into social services. I have become involved with student placements at the project which I really enjoy. I have also become an Ambassador with the SSSC, and was involved in a working group called the Skilled Workers Skilled Citizens. 
How do you see your career progressing? I just enjoy what I am doing but in CrossReach there are many and various opportunities for all workers to try. It’s a great organisation which encourages workers to achieve their potential. 
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? I have been involved in talks at colleges, schools, carers groups etc. I have always tried to encourage people to become involved with social services. Even to try as a volunteer but to be prepared as once you try you won’t leave. There are so many areas to social services and there will be one which suits. 

 

'Sometimes the smallest of things can be the most important and make all of the difference'

Mandy Kennedy, Senior Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Mandy is a support worker for a day care service for adults and finds helping to improve the quality of life for people who use the service motivating and rewarding.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? I work for community integrated care at Carlingwark House daycare service as a support worker.
Have you always worked in social services? I have previously worked for various organisations involving the public, primarily as an auxiliary nurse at both a private nursing home and private hospital.
What made you choose the career you have now? I chose my current area of support work as a vocation due to my mother being diagnosed with dementia and witnessing first hand both the challenges and rewards to both families and individuals.
Can you tell us more about your job? I am a daycare support worker providing socialisation, activities, life skills, support, respite care and stepping stone progression into full time residential care.
Can you give an example of something that you are working on at the moment? I am currently working on bringing service users into the world of online communication and information using computers to access the internet.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I have carried out training and obtained an NVQ level 3 in Support Work and a level 2 Activity Co-ordinator as well as various in house training.
Who else is in your team? As well as my work colleagues I consider the service user, their families, members of the individual’s support agencies and health professionals all to be part of my team.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors? I work with other health professionals (doctors, nurses, speech and language therapists, social workers and home carers) all with a view to supporting the person’s health care needs and wellbeing.
What part of the job motivates you and why? I find helping to improve people’s quality of life both motivating and rewarding.
What are the best bits about your job? The best part of my job is seeing people laugh, joke and smile while at day care and hearing some of the lovely comments they say.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? The main challenges I face are breaking down the barriers with new service users however this is also the most rewarding when they feel at ease in the care environment.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I find that helping to improve an individual’s quality of life in the care environment is most rewarding. Sometimes the smallest of things can be the most important and make all of the difference.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? I think the skills and qualities needed in my role include being genuinely interested in people and looking to improve people’s lives whilst being empathetic to their needs.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have found that my current role has opened up opportunities for future training in activities provision, which led onto the running of an externally funded computer project aimed at reducing social isolation and opening up the world wide web to the people who use the service.
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to further develop the day care provision at Carlingwark House to increase both clients and activities.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Go for it. It is so rewarding with great job satisfaction.

 

Working in a housing support service

'The best parts are working with the young people and supporting them to make meaningful changes to their life'

Gary McMillan, Support Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Gary started working in a housing support team two years ago following a career change. Read his story here.

What type of service do you work in? I work for a youth homeless organisation in the housing support team to support young people between the ages of 16-25 develop and maintain independent living skills.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? I have worked in social services for the past two years. Before that I worked in financial services for a number of years working in mortgage support areas.
What made you choose the career you have now? I wanted to change career after working in financial services for a number of years. I felt there was and is a lot of social injustice in our community and I wanted to support people to have the best chance possible to succeed.
Can you tell us more about your job? I work to support young people between the ages of 16-25 to develop life skills linked to maintaining their tenancies. This involves offering emotional and practical advice in all areas of their lives so they get the best chance to succeed in maintaining their properties.
Can you give us an example of something that you're working on at the moment? I am working with a young person who has just been discharged from hospital after a six month stay due to mental health issues. I am supporting her to get used to her new tenancy and surrounding areas. This involves seeking out opportunities for the young person to keep busy by using local community centre classes, groups and courses. I also have supported her with budgeting, dealing with correspondence and support with cooking/cleaning.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I worked towards my SVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care (Children and Young People) in the first year of working with Rock Trust.
Who else is in your team? We have a team of 11 people including our manager. We all carry a caseload of young people who either receive our visiting support at their own homes or are in our supported accommodation.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? I often come into contact with other professionals who are directly involved in our young people’s lives. This can involve working with social workers, GPs, community psychiatric nurses, local authorities etc.
What part of the job motivates you and why? I enjoy interacting with the young people and supporting them to make real change in their life. I am motivated to give our young people the best chance to succeed.
What are the best bits about your job? The best parts are working with the young people and supporting them to make meaningful changes to their life.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? It can be a very challenging role as we work with often very challenging young people whose lives are chaotic and are not used to structure. It often means that meetings are missed and support cannot be given as frequently as is desired or required.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? I feel for me it is very rewarding as it has allowed me to develop as a person and in turn allowed me to develop the skills necessary for this position. It has made me a better person and I look forward to coming into work each day.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? I think that you need to be a good listener, have patience and a desire to support and assist people so that they can get the best opportunity to succeed. It helps if you’re a person who cares about others and wants to share your skills and knowledge so that others can prosper.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you and if so what kind of things? It has allowed me to develop and improve both in work and as a person as well. I have a better idea of the challenges that young people and the vulnerable in society face and about social inequality. I also have learned a lot from colleagues about housing law, benefit process and the importance of listening before being heard.
How do you see your career progressing? I want to remain working with young people and the more vulnerable in society. I feel that I have skills that will allow me to continue to make a difference in people’s lives and let them be the best that they can be.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? It is a very worthwhile career and, although it can have its frustrations, ultimately you will have a full, varied and fun career that will bring immense reward and know that you have helped people along the way.

 

'You will meet so many interesting people along the way and gain so much more life experience.'

Amanda Skinner, Project Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Amanda began her career studying nursing and now supports young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

 

 

Tell us a bit about the service you work in I work with 16-25 year olds that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. I support them to access various opportunities such as volunteering, full and part time education. I also support them to access housing and to maintain their house whilst developing life skills such as money management, improved social networks and skills needed to maintain their health and well-being.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? I began my career studying nursing. From age 16 I worked in a hospital with the elderly. At 21, and in third year at university, I changed my course to health promotion.
What made you choose the career you have now? I have always worked in the caring industry and although nursing was not a career I wished to pursue I still wanted to work with people who were vulnerable and in need of support. A friend worked with young homeless people and there was a vacancy so I applied for the job and, as they say, the rest is history.
Can you tell us more about your job?

I also devise and deliver group work on relevant topics such as cooking on a budget, drugs and alcohol and ways to improve your health and well-being.

I work on a one to one basis and have a case load of young people that are assigned to me as well as delivering group work to any young people who are involved with the Rock Trust.

Can you give us an example of something you're working on at the moment? I am currently organising a six week programme of informal education groups followed by creative and active group sessions that we will be running in February and March.
What qualifications do you need for this job? I have a degree in Health Promotion and an SVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care. Generally you need an SVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care or a degree in youth work such as community development.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? I often work alongside other professionals to make sure the service the young person is receiving is to the highest quality. I support and advise/advocate for the young person if required. I work alongside social workers, NHS staff, youth justice, housing, the City of Edinburgh Council, the job centre and any other third sector organisations that are involved.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Direct contact with young people. This is the reason I do this job, I like working with young people.
What are the best bits about your job? I like everything about my job except having to collate stats.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

When you work with someone with complex needs you can see the progress after a month or two. Their confidence starts to grow, perhaps they are accepted to college or are managing their tenancy. These are the things that make me feel proud to do this job.

Challenges are the paper work. Sometimes the amount of paper work can be overwhelming and can take you away from direct contact with young people which is the best part of my job. Also as we are a charity we rely on donations and funding from various different places in order to do the good work we do.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Knowing that the work you do has a direct and often instant impact is very rewarding. We offer a duty service and we have people come to us often due to family breakdowns. They may have nowhere to stay, no money and no idea where their next meal is coming from. I can support them to access housing and benefits as well as providing a food parcel in one day. Imagine what we can do to support them when we have a few months to do it.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? You need to be empathetic and nonjudgemental. You also need to be very organised and confident working with young people. It is important that you are approachable, friendly and have a good sense of humour.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Through work I have completed my SVQ level 3 in Health and Social Care. We have a programme of mandatory training every year and it is all free. So I have improved my learning year on year.
How do you see your career progressing? I may look into a management role in the future, however I enjoy the direct work with young people and have no desire to give this up right now.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services?

It is not an easy job but if you truly want job satisfaction and to have a direct impact on other people’s lives then this is the job for you.

You will make a difference to people’s lives if you do this job and you will feel fulfilled. You will meet so many interesting people along the way and gain so much more life experience.

 

'I face challenges every day at work; one of the good challenges is when a tenant comes to me with a problem or issue and I am able to work with them to provide solutions.'

Carol Ferguson, Supported Housing Coordinator

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Carol believes that working in housing support is one of the most rewarding careers. Read her story here.

 
What type of service do you work in? The development has 29 flats, primarily for over 60s. We also accept applications from people under 60 who have an identified support need. We provide 24/7 housing support and two daily meals to tenants.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? No, I have had various other jobs. I was a life guard, bus driver and lorry driver before deciding on a career in care.
What made you choose the career you have now? When I was working as a bus driver for a special needs school I really enjoyed working with the children with additional support needs. I discovered that I had a passion for this type of work and decided to return to college as a mature student to retrain to work in the care sector. I then worked in mental health and learning disability services, before moving to work in my current role.
Can you tell us more about your job? I manage a very busy development and every day is different, which is one of the things I like. The majority of the tenants are very independent and on the go every day. I spend my mornings in the office catching up on paperwork and carrying out daily checks. In the afternoons I like to spend time with the tenants either visiting them at home or chatting in the communal area. I can support tenants with things like benefits, referrals to other agencies or even getting a phone installed in their flat. Whilst paperwork such as rotas and staff supervision are a large part of my role, I enjoy organising outings, groups or entertainment for tenants to participate in.
Can you give us an example of something you're working on at the moment? I have just started planning the development trips for the summer months. The tenants are keen to have a trip to one of the other islands this year so I am busy looking into fundraising opportunities to enable us to do this.
What qualifications do you need for this job? SVQ 3 or an HNC are desirable qualifications for my post.
Who else is in your team?

I have four supported housing workers who cover the building outside my working hours. They are responsible for key working for tenants and carrying out personal plan reviews. We have two cooks who provide two meals daily to tenants, one domestic who is responsible for the cleanliness and upkeep of the communal areas and one tenant support worker who carries out domestic tasks for some individuals.

We also have two bank staff to cover staff absences.

The good thing about my team is they are all capable and willing to do each other’s roles. This greatly benefits the team as it gives each team member a better insight into each other’s roles.

Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? Yes, working with other agencies and professionals is a large part of my role. On a daily basis I communicate with GPs, district nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, home care etc. This can be through making direct referrals, supporting tenants at meetings or attending reviews or case conferences. Multi agency working provides the best outcomes for individuals.
What part of the job motivates you and why? Making a difference to people’s lives. Supporting tenants to remain as independent as possible within their own homes. Seeing the pressure taken off someone when they know you are going to deal with a problem or situation is very rewarding and provides the motivation to want to do your best for those you support.
What are the best bits about your job? Without a doubt the people. I could sit all day and listen to tenants telling me stories from when they were young. I moved to the Isle of Lewis from the mainland for this post and the tenants are busy teaching me Gaelic at the moment.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job?

I face challenges every day at work; one of the good challenges is when a tenant comes to me with a problem or issue and I am able to work with them to provide solutions.

Other challenges can be more difficult to deal with. Funding is an issue for all health and social care organisations and this can be extremely challenging when trying to get services for individuals, but told there is no funding or they will add it to a waiting list.

In what way is your career in social services rewarding? When I go home at night, I can say I made a difference to someone today. From solving problems to being a listening ear. Seeing an elderly person smile because you sat and had a cuppa and blether or gave them a cuddle; there are very few other careers that can give you this kind of rewarding feeling.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Foremost you need to care, about customers and staff. The skills that I think are most important in my role are: organisation, time management, prioritisation, multi-tasking, critical thinking, but most important is effective communication. The qualities that I think are important are: patience, resilience and emotional intelligence.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? Absolutely, dementia training has been a very important part of recent training. I am currently undertaking specialist alcohol support training provided by an outside organisation. I have recently been involved in Trust Housing Association’s working groups to shape new polices, procedures and paperwork. Having input from those who use these daily has made them better quality and more user friendly.
How do you see your career progressing? I would like to progress to the role of Service Manager, this would be the next level of management but still allow me to have contact with tenants most days.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Go for it, it’s one of the most rewarding careers that you can do. It is hard work, but if you are willing to put the effort in, it’s extremely worthwhile. You are making a difference every day and not many jobs provide that opportunity. If you are unsure, try volunteering first. Befriender services all over the country are always looking for new volunteers. This would allow you the opportunity to see if this type of career would be for you.

 

'It's great when you see young people making progress and moving on positively.'

Connie Rowe, Project Worker

To download a pdf of this case study, click here.

Connie had a wide range of jobs before starting her career in social services with Rock Trust. Read her story here.

 

 

What type of service do you work in? We provide support to 16-25 year olds who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. We do this through one to one support and group work sessions. We also provide supported accommodation.
Have you always worked in social services? If not, what did you do before? I have worked as a lifeguard, nanny, waitress and an outdoor pursuits instructor.
What made you choose the career you have now? I was involved in taking a group of teenagers from London on a residential trip to the Isle of Wight. It was incredible. The young people had never been to the beach before. Needless to say every one of them got soggy shoes and there was sand everywhere but it was a really memorable and rewarding experience.
Can you tell us more about your job? I provide tenancy support to young people who have been homeless. We support young people to develop independent living skills through one to one support and group work sessions. We also provide supported accommodation in both single and shared properties.
Can you give us an example of something you're working on at the moment? I am currently working with a young man who has just moved into his own tenancy. This is the first time he has lived alone. I am supporting him to increase his confidence in budgeting and money management. I am also supporting him to learn some basic cooking skills and recipes. He is really keen to work so I have supported him to create a CV and we are currently applying for jobs.
What qualifications do you need for this job? The minimum requirement is a SVQ 3.
Can you explain who else is in your team? We have a fantastic team which consists of eight project workers, a support assistant and a property officer.
Do you work with other professionals in other sectors eg health, teaching, justice? We work closely with housing officers, social workers and other specialist services eg mental health specialists, addiction workers and employability services.
What part of the job motivates you and why? It’s great when you see young people making progress and moving on positively.
What are the best bits about your job? Supporting young people to move from temporary accommodation to their own, permanent tenancies.
What are the challenges, good and not so good that you face in your job? Dealing with the department of work and pensions (DWP) can be a challenge. It can also be tough sometimes when you can see exactly what someone needs to do in order to progress but until they can see it for themselves and are ready to do so there is nothing, even with the best will in the world, that you can do.
In what way is your career in social services rewarding? Seeing young people move on positively from homelessness and get to the stage where they are living, and even better thriving, independently is really rewarding.
Can you explain the skills and qualities you think are needed to do the role you're doing? Good communication skills are very important. You also need to be creative; this is crucial for finding ways of engaging the harder to reach young people.
Has your job opened up new learning and development for you? I have developed as a support worker and increased my knowledge of issues surrounding homelessness and how to support individuals who have been affected by this. I have also had the opportunity to go on training courses and be involved in joint working to further my knowledge and improve my practice in this line of work.
How do you see your career progressing? I would love to develop some sort of social enterprise for young people who have experienced homelessness.
What would you say to someone thinking about a career in social services? Be prepared to work really hard. You get out what you put in. There will be some tough days but the job satisfaction outweighs the frustration.

Are you inspired and looking for more info on careers in care?

You’ll find lots of information here. But before you do, have a go at our quiz to see if you could have what it takes for a career in care.

Do you work in social services and would you like to share your story about your career to help raise awareness of the difference you make? Get in touch with us at communications@sssc.uk.com