Career Development

What Does a Support Worker Do?

Find out what a support worker does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a support worker.

Support workers are the glue that holds society together. They help people with disabilities, seniors, and other vulnerable populations live full lives by providing assistance with daily tasks. Support work is a broad field that includes everything from helping someone dress in the morning to bathing them at night.

Support Worker Job Duties

Support workers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Supporting individuals with disabilities or chronic health problems in their daily activities
  • Providing emotional support to patients or clients who are experiencing emotional distress
  • Supporting individuals with disabilities or chronic health problems in daily activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, and toileting
  • Providing support to individuals who are experiencing difficulty coping with their daily lives due to mental illness or substance abuse problems
  • Performing clerical tasks such as filing documents or answering phones
  • Providing basic care to children or elderly individuals in their home settings
  • Engaging in therapeutic activities with clients aimed at improving their physical and emotional well-being
  • Coordinating client appointments with doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, and other professionals involved in treatment plans
  • Providing guidance and support to individuals participating in community activities such as attending religious services or recreational events

Support Worker Salary & Outlook

Support workers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of support they provide. Some support workers may also receive benefits, such as health insurance or paid vacation days.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,500 ($15.14/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $67,000 ($32.21/hour)

The employment of support workers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for home health care services is expected to increase as the large baby-boom generation ages and people remain active later in life. In addition, technological advances are expected to allow more types of medical equipment to be operated remotely, which may increase demand for home health care services.

Related: In-Depth Support Worker Salary Guide

Support Worker Job Requirements

To become a support worker, you may need to have:

Education: Support workers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed some post-secondary education, such as a community college course or certificate program. Courses in human resources, business, health care, psychology and social work are useful for support workers.

Training & Experience: Many support workers receive on-the-job training when they start a new position. This training may last for a few weeks or a month and may include instruction on how to use the organization’s computer systems, how to handle finances and how to complete daily tasks.

Certifications & Licenses: Some employers may require employees to pass an industry-specific certification to show their general understanding of the field.

Support Worker Skills

Support workers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a support worker, you may be required to communicate with clients, supervisors and other support workers. Effective communication can help you convey information clearly and answer questions. You can practice communication skills by listening to others, asking questions and providing feedback.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As a support worker, you may be responsible for helping clients overcome serious mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Empathy can help you relate to your clients and help them feel comfortable and supported.

Teamwork: Teamwork skills can help you work with other support workers and supervisors to provide the best care for clients. You can also use teamwork skills to collaborate with other support workers to find solutions to challenges.

Time management: Time management is another skill that support workers use in their daily work. They often have multiple tasks to complete in a day, so it’s important for them to prioritize their work and manage their time accordingly. This can include knowing how long it takes to complete certain tasks and planning accordingly.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. As a support worker, you may have a set schedule, but you may also need to adjust your schedule to accommodate the needs of your clients. For example, if a client needs to go to a doctor’s appointment, you may need to fill in for them. Flexibility can also mean adjusting your approach to tasks. For example, if a client prefers to do their laundry by hand, you may need to adjust your routine to accommodate them.

Support Worker Work Environment

Support workers typically work in an office environment during regular business hours, although they may be required to work evenings and weekends to meet the needs of their clients. They may also travel to meet with clients in their homes or other settings. Support workers may work with individuals, families, or groups and may provide direct services, such as case management, counseling, or crisis intervention, or indirect services, such as community education or advocacy. They may work with clients who have mental illness, substance abuse problems, developmental disabilities, or other challenges. Support workers may also provide services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other crimes.

Support Worker Trends

Here are three trends influencing how support workers work. Support workers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Mental Health Professionals

The need for more mental health professionals is a trend that is quickly becoming apparent as the world becomes increasingly more stressful. As people become more and more overwhelmed by their responsibilities, they are turning to professionals for help with their emotional problems.

This trend is creating an opportunity for support workers who are trained in providing mental health services. By understanding how to help people deal with their emotions, these professionals can provide much-needed relief to those who are struggling.

More Focus on Employee Engagement

Employers are increasingly focusing on employee engagement as a way to improve productivity and reduce costs. This means that support workers will need to be able to create a positive work environment that encourages employees to stay motivated and productive.

Support workers can utilize this trend by developing skills in communication and team building. They should also be familiar with current trends in workplace culture, such as the importance of flexibility and work-life balance.

Greater Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion

As businesses strive to become more diverse and inclusive, support workers will play a key role in helping to achieve this goal.

Support workers can play a critical role in helping to create a more welcoming environment for all employees, regardless of their background or identity. They can do this by being aware of potential cultural differences and making sure that everyone feels comfortable in the workplace.

How to Become a Support Worker

There are many different paths you can take to become a support worker. You could start off as a care assistant, working with people who need help with their daily tasks. As you gain experience, you could move up the ranks and become a team leader or manager. Alternatively, you could become a disability support worker, specialising in helping people with disabilities live independently.

No matter which path you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your field. Read journals and articles, attend workshops and training courses, and network with other professionals. This will help you develop your skills and keep pace with changes in the industry.

Related: How to Write a Support Worker Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a support worker. One way is to get more education. A support worker with only a high school diploma may wish to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in human services, which will enable him or her to apply for jobs that are not otherwise open to them. For example, a support worker interested in working with children may get a degree in child development; someone wanting to move into management may get a degree in human services administration.

Another way to advance your career is to get certified as a peer support specialist. This certification is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Council for Behavioral Health. To be eligible, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a training program, and pass an exam.

You can also advance your career by taking on more responsibility at your job. For example, you may start out as a support worker in a group home and eventually become a manager. Or you may start out as a support worker in a day program and eventually become a program coordinator.

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