“I feel good when I arrive at work and even better when I leave.”
Jenny has been a support worker with The Westminster Society since May 2001. She is a very valuable member of our team and has been with us for so long because she “absolutely loves the job and it is like a family. My highlights are all of the changes I’ve seen in people and been part of.”
Jenny works at one of our supported housing and floating support schemes. Working as part of a team Jenny supports 9 adults with learning disabilities living in their own individual flats and shared living accommodation.
A cup of tea is on the cards either at the beginning of an early shift or at the end of a “sleep-in”. The morning is about getting the day started in the best way possible for the people I am helping - whether this is washing, getting to the loo, or eating breakfast. No two days are the same so I make sure to talk to the other staff about the shift plan, which shows what is planned for day and who is doing what and when.
I could be doing literally anything: heading out to college, to work, going shopping, going to a health appointment. The whole day will be busy with different people needing different types of support, some planned and some just needed there and then. During the morning, we have to make sure that the house is clean and safe. This isn’t a hotel or nursing home so everyone gets involved with household chores such as doing the laundry and cooking.
Lunch is an important part of everyone’s day, including the staff. It may be eaten in the house or elsewhere in the local community but I always eat with the person that I am supporting. There are so many people in the community that know the person I’m with and many stop and say “hello”. It’s great to know that the community cares about our people too and many tell me what a great job that I am doing - this makes me feel good about what I do too.
This is the time that we change staff and I need to make sure that I share everything that I’ve seen and done during the day e.g. if someone is a little off colour or if there’s been an issue or something positive that has happened. I need to make sure I have written a detailed handover and that I am able to verbally update by colleagues too. If I am starting work at 3pm, I need to think about the evening activities and planning with my colleagues, and the people I support so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Generally most people are home about this time and we prepare the evening meal. My favourite things for people to cook are Jerk Chicken and vegetarian pasta. We support people in independent flats as well as in the home, and some have dietary requirements or personal preferences, so we may need to cook several meals over this time, though we often have a big Sunday roast all together once a week. The staff are a team and we support each other as well as give each other hints and tips about cooking and all sorts of other things.
Often there’s a social activity such as the theatre, cinema, bowling or a trip to the races. We are very lucky that we live in London and there are so many things to do. We make sure that we are organised and make the most of all of the opportunities. If we’re not going out, we spend time together talking and laughing. It’s surprisingly good fun here!
If we’re not out, this is a great time to complete paperwork but also sit together chatting. Some people get up early so go to bed early, but of course, everyone is different. I visit the people in the independent flats to check that they are OK and to reassure them that I’m around if needed. It may be my time to head home now but if I’m out, I don’t cut short an activity. My job is to ensure that people are having a great time and sometimes this means I don’t get home until late but we get paid and supported for this. Besides, I love my job.
A sleep-in shift usually ends around now and I head to bed after checking everything is locked up. I say a last goodnight to make sure everyone is still alright and to spot any potential issues. My job is to be here in case of emergencies - most nights are fine and if I face an issue when I’m really stuck, I can call my senior manager for help.
The Westminster Society is calling for health equality for people with learning disabilities to ensure they have access to regular Covid-19 testing, and that vaccines are made available on an equitable basis alongside people living in elderly and nursing care facilities.
Our CEO has written to Helen Whately Minister of State for Social Care asking for a change in policy – please see her letter here.Read the letter to Helen Whately