Lucy, a support worker in our Self Directed Support Service, has written a day in the life of an SDS worker to give you a flavour of the work they do with clients…

Except this was no ordinary day… I have 3 clients booked in on this bright, sunny Wednesday.

Meeting with my first client

My first stop is with H, a gentle and often worried client who needs a high level of support for basic living tasks. I’ve worked with her for a couple of months now, slowly building trust and a relationship where she feels able to tell me what she needs from me. After a number of issues recently, she is in desperate need of a new routine to help her build habits to remember the things she needs to do. I’ve spent time asking her questions about what she wants, but also used active listening skills and paid attention to how she responds to different techniques. Most importantly, I’ve always respected her individual needs and desires and, as a result, I introduced a new structure to the support work she receives. This particular Wednesday, she was more positive, less worried and more hopeful for the future than normal. She had been following a checklist that I had introduced and found this to be very helpful for her. She was chatty and engaged throughout and we managed to achieve more in the session than we ever had done before. I left H absolutely buzzing and off to a good start!

Meeting with my second client of the day

Stop 2 is with V. He is a new client of the service and one that has a lot of complex needs. He is incredibly intelligent and suffers most when bored. I was in the process of building the initial rapport with him, to establish more about what he wants and how I can best help. He was hospitalized at the time, but I had arranged some supervised leave for him so we could talk together away from the ward. This was only my second visit with him, and the first was with his psychologist as well. He seemed a little wary at first, but he soon warmed to me and we found ourselves chatting away about the planet, the environment and his in depth knowledge of science. He opened up quickly about his goals, dreams and desires to study science and forge a career in it one day. When asking about what I could do to help, he asked if we could look at science conventions, games, clubs, parks and zoos. Having only met him once before, I had been slightly worried about this meeting, but by asking open questions and allowing him to talk about his favourite things, we built a relationship quickly and he is excited to see what we can do in the future. Another great shift!

Meeting with my third client

My third and final client for the day is J. I’ve worked with J for a few months and he engaged quickly with me. He has another set of completely different needs and the main criteria that I’ve found works is pure acceptance of where he is in his journey, while encouraging some baby steps forwards. He is often in his own world when we have our sessions but has increased his communication with me as we’ve got to know each other. There is a level of trust he has in me that he doesn’t have with many people and over the last month or so, I’ve been working with him to get his haircut as he hadn’t done anything with it for years.

Today is the day we go for his hair appointment. I’ve had it agreed that I can spend as much time as necessary with him to achieve this long-term goal and fortunately, I have flexibility for time today as well. The appointment was booked for 3 hours but the hairdresser quickly established it would take much longer. We ended up staying at the salon for 6 hours! J hasn’t been away from his mum for more than a couple of hours for years. He sat quietly and calmly throughout and we occasionally chatted between us or with the hairdresser. This was such a huge moment for J, his family and for me as well. I’ve got to know them all well over the last few months and this was so far out of J’s comfort zone and we are all so incredibly proud of him for working towards and achieving this goal. When I dropped him home to his mum and dad, they both had tears in their eyes (I did too!). J’s development and improvement since the hair cut has been massive. His confidence has grown and he is taking better care of himself.

“I’ve never felt so much job satisfaction and reward for the work I do…”

This particular Wednesday was a pinnacle moment for me and I’ve never felt more job satisfaction and reward for the work that I do. It’s hard to imagine that just over a year ago I was working as a Mortgage Adviser in an office, where my soul was being crushed daily by the corporate world of banking. I took a big chance and jumped out of my own comfort zone and right onto the frontline of mental health support work within the SDS team and I’ve never looked back.

If you are interested in finding out more about what it’s like to work for SDS, please visit our webpage here.