What happens when support work gets in your blood?

At Discovery, we’re proud of the inspiring people in our Somerset-based team, it happens because we recruit people for their values first and experience second.

Your values are more important to us than your skills because we can train you, but we can’t change you. If your values don’t fit with ours, it’s not going to be a match made in heaven. 

But when they fit? OH MY!

Meet Emmanuel.

His incredible story demonstrates the five values we look for in a person – courage, respect, ambition, partnership and integrity:

Hi Emmanuel, tell us, how did you get to work for Discovery?

When I moved to the UK, I did a few jobs, but I didn’t like them, so I began support work through an agency, doing floating waking nights, which meant I travelled almost all over the whole county. At first, it worked because I was studying for a degree and couldn’t commit to a contract. 

In 2016 (three years later) I paused the degree and went to work for Discovery on bank staff, meaning I was no longer a floating agency worker, but in one place. After a few months, I was asked to apply as full-time night staff, so I became a permanent member of Discovery. 

Nights work better than day shifts for me because I can balance family life, work, studies, and running my charity.

What makes Discovery an important part of your life?

I find my work with Discovery fulfilling. As a night worker, I like taking the small steps to support someone to have a good night’s sleep and wake up the right way because a good night’s sleep makes a big difference in the lives of the people we support.

Where I work, the people we support have complex care needs, and we need to support them throughout the night. Based on their support plan, we know when to roll, move or position them in bed. Some of them are on peg feeds and a range of medication and others can’t swallow, so we have to make sure there is no danger of choking or aspiration. 

We make sure they are safe at night and wake up with dignity in the morning when we support them to wash with prompts. It’s fantastic to see progress, even with a little thing like handing them a flannel. Building independence in small steps gives people so much dignity.

The people we support remind me of where I came from. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a good life. At some point, I was homeless, which makes you grateful for every bit of help you receive, from a friend’s chair to sleep in or a biscuit to eat. This background taught me to love these people unconditionally. 

That’s the drive, and I’ve never looked back. The simple, even unnoticed, things you can do to improve a person’s quality of life satisfy me the most. 

We all bring our whole selves to work. So tell readers something more about you?

If the people we support in Discovery are my focus by night, my daytime passion is the small charity I run. We provide equipment such as glasses and wheelchairs to severely disabled people, many of them living on the street, in my home country of Uganda.

People like Penny, whom I first met in a terrible state in 2015; severely disabled and reliant on others for support with anything, by 2017 she was able to sit herself up and feed herself unaided. And Pauline, who is now able to walk, play and attend school thanks to the cataract operations and glasses we supported her with.

Now we look after children with healthcare needs whose parents can’t cope with the demanding nature of their medical needs. We aim to minimise disability and add quality of life to these kids. We also have an occupational therapist who identifies their care needs; many still need a diagnosis, so we start from scratch, take them to the hospital, and make sure they get a proper diagnosis. 

We are currently building a den where people can belong, play, and be included instead of hidden away in backyards. We need to show people that everyone can enjoy life no matter how disabled. 

I suppose I do support work by day and by night. Once it gets into your blood, you don’t want to stop.

Thank you for your extraordinary contribution to helping more people lead better lives across two countries, Emmanuel!

If this story left you inspired to make a difference with Discovery, find out more here.

And to find out more about Emmanuel’s charity, see here.