How lockdown meant Brett transitioned to support work and wished he’d done it five years sooner:
I’m Brett, I’m twenty-eight, and I’ve been in the leisure industry since I was sixteen. I worked my way up to a senior operations manager, then when Lockdown happened, I got made redundant and put on a casual contract.
I’m engaged and saving up to get married and I had forty hours one week, the next week four. So I started applying for jobs, but I didn’t want to go back to retail like when I was sixteen. Then I saw an advert about a support worker, and I thought:
I’m a nice person, bubbly, outgoing and I like people, maybe this is for me!
It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I love it. I wish I had done it five years sooner. I can’t talk more positively about the job.
Does your leisure background helps you get the people we support moving and motivated?
Oh, definitely. Yeah, I’ll always get people up and out! We take them swimming, and we take them on walks. There is one chap. I’m his keyworker now, he loves walks, and he’s a speedy walker!
So I’m with him a lot because I can keep up with him. I love going on fast walks. I’m always the one who goes out on five hour walks with people!
It’s fantastic you’re still so active. After being in a gym, going to a desk job would crush you, I guess?
100%, many any of my skills are transferable from health and safety to first aid, fitness and, of course, like all of us, general life skills.
What do you love the most about your work now?
When I come to work, I’m not wearing a uniform. I’m wearing regular clothes. It’s like I’m going to my friend’s house for the day. It’s home away from home. Today we went with a gent to the farm. We fed pigs, goats, donkeys and cows, and it was fab! No two days are the same.
When I tell my friends I’m a support worker, they think I’m looking after 95-year-old Doris and 88- year old Dave—lifting them out of bed, getting them downstairs for the strike of the cuckoo clock every morning.
It’s not like that at all. Supported living is an entirely different thing.
So what would you say is the difference between supported living and being in a care home?
I don’t know because this is the first care job I’ve ever had, but it’s nothing like I thought! I thought it would be a regimented, institutionalised world.
One where you’re stuck in the house all day, waiting for the clock to chime, bang on eight o’clock, and whether they like it or not, you’re taking them down to the lounge, then they wait to all have coffee at 12 past nine etc.
In supported-living, you come to their house, and the person lets you know want they want, so if they wish to lay in or be out the door at the crack of dawn or somewhere in-between, they get it!
So you go into their homes because the person wants you there?
Exactly. We work where they live. Not the other way round.
For instance, one of the guys just wanted to watch football euros when it was on in the summer. So we sat down together and watched the two o’clock kickoff, the five o’clock kickoff and eight o’clock kickoff!
That sounds like your dream day!
Oh, it was! And the next day, he was up and about, he wanted to do stuff, so it’s entirely up to the person how we work. They might want to go out, then get out and think I don’t want to; I’d rather be inside. So they turn us around.
It’s hard to explain why it’s so good, but this job isn’t going to give me grey hairs. It’s not even going to make me stressed. Instead, it’s making me happy, seeing how the guys respond to all of us.
I get what you mean about it’s so hard to put it in words. It’s like you have to be there with the person to get the feeling?
Yeah. Oh, 100%. Definitely. Yeah.
But you’ve done a fantastic job capturing what is different these days, with the move from care homes to supported living and person-centred planning. When did you start?
Do you know I had my interview a year ago! My first day was February 15th.
Wow! So your first day was the day after Valentine’s Day?
Haha yes! It’s meant to be a match made in heaven!
Okay, is there anything else you want to say whilst we’re on this call?
We’re not carers, we’re support workers, and they are two massively different things.
So that’s what we need you to know. I’ve never worked in care, so I can only say what I used to perceive it to be, but to me, supported living is ten times better than what care ever sounded to be.
Do you think you would love this job as much as Brett does?
The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) has been officially accredited as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for two years running. Additionally, this year, we received a “Wellbeing” award and a “Great Workplace for Women” award.