My name is Christopher and I work part-time as a support worker for Ben and John in their supported living service. I combine this with working as an artist and arts facilitator. I am Deaf and use British Sign Language, lip-reading and speaking to communicate.
When I first started working for Sense, I spent time shadowing other members of staff. I wanted to know Ben and John a little better so I could understand their likes, dislikes and individual needs. It was a bit daunting at first but we have gotten to know each other and have since built a good rapport with one another. They responded to different support workers in different ways; Ben’s a cheeky person (like myself) so we are well-matched, personality wise.
I like the contrast between my two jobs – It’s good for my brain to adapt and change to different environments. My work as an artist can be very intense so it’s good to have variety every now and then.
I support Ben and John by helping them live their lives to the fullest. I do this motivating them, encouraging their independence and giving them freedom of choice. I have learnt how to be patient with them, working at their own pace whilst always ensuring they are being listened to.
Some days can be jam-packed with many different things going on but it’s quieter on other days. It’s all about communication and teamwork; we support workers have a diary and communication book to log in our activities. We do this to find out what’s happening and if there is anything we should be aware of. We’re always prepared for the unexpected but that’s okay as we all talk to one another and we know how to respond to these situations.
I support Ben and John to do the things they want to do. On one occasion, John really wanted to go to a football match so I followed him to a local game. I have also taken them on two holidays; I took Ben to the New Forest and accompanied both of them on an adventurous holiday in Exmoor for five days. They did horse-riding, canoeing, abseiling and zip lining – we really got involved and it was a lot of fun! John needed time to feel confident but Ben went straight in.
The job does have its challenges but it is extremely rewarding. Ben and John have a right to be independent. It’s about choices and living life to the full.