Jane Sweet, 51, from Sheffield, has been a Supported Living Assistant for the NHS for 16 years.
As a Supported Living Assistant, her job is to help people aged 18 and over, with mental or learning difficulties, to live as independently as possible within their own home.
Jane said: “I have always been interested in Mental Health and Learning Difficulties. It could affect anyone of us at anytime, and yet it is still misunderstood by so many people. Our team works hard to support vulnerable people to live in the community.”
With difficulties ranging from ‘mild’ to ‘severe’, the level of support will depend on a client’s individual needs.
A typical day can start with simply encouraging a client to get out of bed in the morning. The client will then be supported with personal care, making sure they take any medication and will be helped to prep meals for the day. The support assistant will then discuss with the client, an activity for the day, like shopping or a trip to the cinema.
Jane said: “The best thing about this job is that you can make a real difference to someone’s life. Knowing that our support can and is helping people lead a better and safer life, it’s pure job satisfaction”.
Working with people who have mental health issues or learning difficulties can also be challenging.
Jane has worked in the care industry for 30 years and often works long hours. This means she spends a lot of time away from home at work. But she insists that her days off are always spent with family and are ‘much more special’.
But the real challenge is when, despite all efforts, a client is still struggling to live in a supported living environment. This can be frustrating for the client and they may become upset or uncooperative. Some clients can even become aggressive.
Jane said: “You have to have a thick skin in this job. I wanted a career working with people who needed support and guidance, where I felt like I could help. It has been a long, sometimes hard, but very rewarding journey.”
You can find more information about the NHS Supported Living Services, here.
Words by Jessica Peace