Social workers share their experiences of working with vulnerable adults


Have you ever wanted to make a huge difference in the lives of vulnerable adults living in Somerset? Then a career in social services might be for you.

Discovery was established in 2017 as a partnership between Dimensions and Somerset County Council, as a not-for-profit autism support provider.
adults and people with learning disabilities in Somerset.

Dimensions Group is currently ranked among the best workplaces for wellbeing in the UK, and Discovery is looking to recruit new support workers to give vulnerable adults the help and support they deserve.

We spoke to a few existing support workers about what they do and how they were supported in the first place:

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made”

Brett Hayter has spent more than a decade working in the entertainment industry, becoming senior operations manager as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

With leisure facilities unable to open, the 28-year-old Yeovil resident was made redundant and placed on a casual contract, making the number of hours he would work each week deeply unpredictable.

With a wedding on the way, Brett applied for a full-time job, but wanted to stay away from retail given his earlier experiences as a teenager.

He then applied for Discovery and now works for them as a support worker, helping individuals get the most out of their lives.

He said: “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I love it. I wish I had done it five years earlier.

Brett’s Support allows individuals to stay active and engaged in their local community, with support workers paired with people who share their interests – including, in Brett’s case, long walks and Euros.

Working in an assisted living setting, no two days are the same, and none of it really feels like work for Brett.

Not only does he not wear a uniform, but he likens the role to going to a friend’s house for the day, or even a home away from home.

He added: “I can’t speak more positively about the job.”

“I know that I am making a profound difference in people’s lives”

Maddy started working for Discovery in September 2021, having previously only worked at Pizza Hut when she was in sixth grade.

Maddy, left, a Frome-based support worker from Discovery. CREDIT: Discovery.

The support worker, who lives in Frome, said her previous experience has helped her work collaboratively with other people.

She said: “I have so much more job satisfaction as a support worker for Discovery because I know I am making a profound difference in people’s lives.

“I have been exposed to the health and social care sector all my life: my mother is a physiotherapist, my grandfather is a doctor and I studied health and social care in sixth grade.

“But even with all that experience in my support job, I still didn’t know what to expect. However, despite my initial nervousness, I was welcomed with open arms.

When she joined Discovery, Maddy had the opportunity to shadow senior colleagues to learn new skills and build her confidence – her manager also taking a keen interest in her mental health and well-being.

She said: “Our team is very close and I have been amazed by the understanding, awareness and ability to be vulnerable and open about myself that comes with working in the health and social care sector.

“Another thing Discovery does for newcomers is to provide a one-page profile of everyone we support, as well as our colleagues. Profiles are a great tool that makes it easier to engage with the people we support. support from the start.

“Then, instead of getting distracted by our differences, we can strengthen our connection by focusing on the things we have in common. For example, some of the people I support love 1980s music – I’ve loved listening to it and learning all about it recently! »

Maddy is currently undergoing her medication training, after which she will seek to specialize as a mental health first aider.

She said: ‘I’m so much less stressed now than I was in my previous job, even though I had a lot more responsibility.

“I’m usually full of pure joy that comes from helping people do what they want to do, whether that’s just getting dressed in the morning or playing the Wurzels’ ‘Cider Drinker’ at full volume.

“No two days are alike and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Go for it”

Jude Smallridge, who is based in Cheddar, works with Somerset County Council to provide support for people with learning disabilities and autism.

After working in various administrative roles for 40 years, she moved into social care in the wake of the pandemic, believing the sector “offers real opportunities to make a real difference in people’s lives”.

She said, “I love the ongoing job satisfaction that comes with making a difference in people’s lives every day.

“Hearing these people say, ‘Thank you for helping me’ or ‘Are you back tomorrow?’ is more satisfying than achieving any type of business goal.”

Support workers build strong relationships with the people they support – Jude excelling in a role she never expected to thrive in.

She said: “If someone has the right values ​​and a strong desire to help people, then a career in support work might be for them.

“With the right support systems in place, it can really provide the career development opportunities that many people probably don’t expect from a job in social services.

“In short, my advice to anyone considering a career in support work is to go for it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. »

For more information on the work Discovery is doing to support the people of Somerset, go to


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