Could you be a support worker?

A support worker’s job is all about helping people who require care to live their lives with as much independence and choice as possible. Every day is different, and support workers often find themselves having to make decisions about what action they should take in a variety of different situations.

Take our quiz and see whether a new career as a support worker would be right for you…

Support work: do you have what it takes?


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Do you have what it takes to change lives?

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Support work: do you have what it takes?

Question 1 of 10.

Diet dilemma

Harriet is overweight and has asked staff to support her to lose weight. Staff have been supporting her to go to a slimming group to get weighed weekly. While out on a shopping trip Harriet sees a large piece of chocolate cake in a café and gets upset as she wants to purchase it. What do you do?

Approach Harriet’s slimming group and let them know you think she’s not sticking to her goals.
Encourage Harriet to buy the cake. Everyone deserves a treat once in a while.
Discreetly explain to Harriet that she may not lose weight this week if she eats it. Explain to her the pros and cons and allow her to make an informed decision.
Stop Harriet from buying the cake. She said she wanted to lose weight and it’s for her own good.

The Mental Capacity Act protects people's rights to make their own decisions, so this is Harriet's choice to make. Your job is to make sure that she understands the reasons for and against buying the slice of cake.

Question 2 of 10.

Dedicated worker

You are out in the community supporting Adam to complete his voluntary placement in a charity shop. It’s the end of the shift and Adam is refusing to leave the shop. Do you:

Ring the office for advice and guidance.
Force Adam to leave the shop and ensure the staff working there know that he isn’t allowed to re-enter.
Leave Adam in the shop with the staff as your shift is due to finish in ten minutes. He’ll leave when he’s ready.
Stay with Adam and persuade him to leave, using distraction techniques.

Distraction techniques are a good non-restrictive option here, though if they didn't work, contacting your manager for guidance would be a good back-up solution, so if you chose this option award yourself a bonus point! Leaving Adam on his own isn't an option, and neither is trying to force him to leave. 

Question 3 of 10.

Out of character?

You support Molly who likes her own company and is very independent. She’s suddenly uncharacteristically extroverted and cheerful and wants to socialise a lot more than normal. What do you do?

Insist she explains why she’s changed her behaviour so much.
Get Molly’s family involved to try and find out if there’s a problem - but don't consult Molly, to avoid worrying her.
Ask her if she’s OK and let her know that she can always talk to you, then let your manager know that Molly’s behaviour has changed abruptly.
Nothing – it’s great that she’s so happy and keen to make friends!

You need to let Molly know that she can tell you anything, and your manager needs to be made aware.  A change in character might be nothing, but it could also be a sign of an underlying issue, such as abuse, and so shouldn't be ignored.

Question 4 of 10.

Fire drill

You're supporting Lucy when the fire alarm suddenly sounds. You expect it’s just a drill. What do you do?

Leave Lucy and quickly pop to the office to check whether it’s a drill or not.
Ask Lucy what she wants to do.
Grab Lucy’s hand and run to the nearest fire exit – you can’t be too careful.
Drill or not, the building needs to be evacuated. You follow Lucy’s individual fire evacuation plan, step by step.

Fire alarms should always be taken seriously, and Lucy’s individual fire evacuation plan exists for just such a situation. Follow the plan.

Question 5 of 10.

Supported shopping

You’re in the supermarket with Henry who has put a lot of unhealthy food in his trolley that he doesn’t have enough money to pay for. What do you do?

Go through the trolley, and replace Henry’s choices with a few healthier options that are within budget.
Lend Henry the extra money. He deserves a treat, and he can always pay you back.
Don’t rock the boat – Henry will find out at the till that he can’t afford it all, but this way you don’t have to be the one to upset him.
Help Henry understand that he isn’t going to have enough money to pay for it all. Encourage him to choose a couple of ‘treats’ and return some of the other items.

As Henry’s support worker, in this situation your job is to make sure that he is supported to manage his own finances, and exercise his right to make his own choices.

While it’s important that Henry is supported to understand the importance of eating a balanced diet so that he can make informed decisions, he also needs to be empowered to choose his own shopping.

Question 6 of 10.

Hot drink mishap

You are supporting Brendan when he burns himself while making a hot drink. You’re worried this might happen again. What do you do?

It’s important for Brendan to be independent so you remind him to be careful, and let him continue making his own drinks.
Speak to your manager - there might be technology available that could help Brendan maintain his independence and make hot drinks more safely.
Make sure that from now on support workers make drinks for Brendan – it’s too much of a risk.
Eliminate the risk by encouraging Brendan to stop drinking hot drinks altogether. This way he can't hurt himself.

It's possible that implementation of some personalised technology could help Brendan continue to make and enjoy his hot drinks independently, while reducing the risk of him burning himself.  These options should be explored.

Question 7 of 10.

Personal beliefs

Ali, who you support, is a Muslim and wants to be supported to go to his local mosque. You’re not religious. How do you respond?

You support Ali to go regardless of your own beliefs – it’s your job to support people to do what they want to do.
Suggest Ali schedules his visits to the mosque during time when you’re not supporting him.
You see if a Muslim co-worker can go instead of you as that seems to make more sense.
You refuse - you’re an atheist and shouldn’t have to do this.

Asking a Muslim colleague might seem appropriate, but they might not always be available, so this isn't really the best solution. Remember, this isn't about your personal beliefs, it's about what Ali wants to do, so you should support him to go to the mosque - though you should contact the mosque first, to check the process.

Question 8 of 10.

Romeo and Juliet

Michael who you support has proposed to his partner. His family don’t approve and have asked you to discourage him from seeing his partner. What do you do?

Agree to do as Michael’s parents say, but secretly continue supporting the relationship.
Michael has the mental capacity to make his own decisions so you respect his choice and advocate for him.
Immediately phone Michael’s parents to express your anger and refuse to intervene in his relationship.
His parents have a right to be involved so you follow their wishes and try to keep Michael and his partner apart.

Michael is an adult and has mental capacity.  Your job is to advocate for Michael, and that means respecting his choice, even if it means difficult (but non-confrontational) conversations with his family.  Ultimately, you're doing the best you can for their loved one.

Question 9 of 10.

Missing medication

Amelia has come in to the day centre when you realise she’s forgotten to bring her medication from home. What do you do?

Report it to the team leader - perhaps they can call home and get the medication brought in, or phone Amelia's doctor for advice.
Don’t worry about it - it’s too late to get it sent in now. You can just log in her diary that she hasn’t had it.
Reassure Amelia that missing it once won't do any harm.
Joyce has the same medication and has spare. You can give Amelia Joyce’s medication and replace it tomorrow by asking her mum to bring in extra.

Ensuring that Amelia takes her medication is important, but using someone else's is not an option. Asking your manager for guidance is the right thing to do, as they can explore options such as phoning home to get the medication delivered, or contacting the GP for guidance.

Question 10 of 10.

Workshop predicament

During a group workshop you are helping support four people. Tariq becomes extremely anxious and starts interrupting and talking loudly over others, causing severe anxieties for the three other people. What do you do?

Stop the group activity immediately with no pre-warning.
Remove Tariq and explain to him that he’s disrupting the group.
Reassure Tariq to redirect him to a safe and calm frame of mind.
Ask the other three people to leave and leave Tariq to self-regulate.

Tariq's behaviour is likely an indicator of an underlying issue, in this case his own anxiety. Taking the time to talk with Tariq and giving him some extra reassurance will help ensure that the workshop can continue without anyone missing out. 

Next question 1 of 10

All 10 questions completed!


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Support work: do you have what it takes?

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