3 tips for finding the perfect support worker

Finding the right support for you: 3 tips for meeting your perfect support worker

Getting support for something you have lived with for such a long time can be difficult, especially when it comes to unmasking and learning to embrace these vulnerable parts of yourself.

Recently, I have been looking for a new element to add to my Access to Work, with disability impact training. I have something called ulcerative colitis that goes right alongside all the neurodivergence.

Both of these things feed into each other. My neurodivergence makes me feel things like pain a bit differently and creates a need for movement and socialising, and my chronic illness makes me need rest and gives me a different aspect of myself to consider. 

With that context out of the way, I want to talk about my journey of finding this new person, and how I did not feel overwhelmed while opening up and trusting someone with information that felt incredibly secretive and vulnerable.

1. What you need and want (and what you don’t)

The first thing I did was make a list of what I wanted. My list consisted of: 

  • A person with a chronic illness or disability.
  • Someone to talk to about the emotional side of being chronically ill as I feel I have the physical stuff like vitamins, food and rest under control. 
  • I would prefer to meet up in person occasionally, but that’s not a must.

If you need a hand making this list for yourself, I made a list of all the struggles I had, and have had in prior conversations that have stopped me connecting with someone. I realised the physical stuff I had but was struggling emotionally. I find it really hard to connect with people who are not chronically ill or disabled in conversations like this, and I do better with most people in person, but I was aware this would probably make my options too small.

Our team will sit and work through this with you because we know it can be a lot. Often people will find this part very emotionally exhausting so make sure to schedule some decompression time afterwards. 

When you have this list, check it against our portal if you’re a client, talk to our wonderful Access to Work team or just keep the list in mind during your search. 

We will also set you homework to head onto our client portal and find a few people who resonate with you so we can make sure you have control and the best picks possible.

2. Making the most of the introduction

When you have your list and have your chosen people, it’s time for an introduction!

A) Congratulations! 

B) This step is the one I found personally the hardest. 

Again, the team comes on these calls with you to provide support, make notes, and let you talk it out with us afterwards, if needed.

For this step, I found it best to arm myself with a list of my priorities, including: 

  • What I wanted to work on. 
  • What times work best for me. 
  • My preference for meeting in-person. 
  • My relevant boundaries.

I felt nervous about talking to someone and opening up about my struggles so having a list to lean on and make sure I didn’t get caught up in the conversation was essential. It added structure and a sense of security. 

In the conversations I made a point to be the first one to really start talking as that gave me a feeling of control, but everyone I spoke to asked relevant questions to learn more about me, my situation and my boundaries. 

I also kept notes of all the conversations, about how I felt about the connection I had with the person and things like their boundaries, work preferences and anything else I felt was relevant. I struggle to have meaningful conversations while note-taking, and if you are like this too, don’t worry as the team member with you is on it!

3. Making decisions

Choosing someone can feel overwhelming, so set yourself a deadline to make your choice but give yourself enough time to look over the notes, respond and make a decision. 

 

Listen to your gut and don’t be afraid to ask to speak with different support workers. As you go through the interviews you may find new things to add to your notes, new questions to ask and things to look out for. It’s also okay to change your mind about what you need as you learn more.

 

You may start working with a support worker and find that it’s not quite right for you, or your support worker may not feel they can give you the best support, which is why we have a standard 2-week trial period. At any point in the first fortnight you can email the support worker or our team and say “Hey, this isn’t working out!” and we will do our best to find you someone more compatible. 

We are not here to judge you, we are here to help you. You can ask for things, or change your mind if the first decision isn’t for you.

If you are not currently working with us for your Access to Work, send us an email at help@celebratedifference.co.uk! You can also check out the rest of the website to find out if we are the right company for you.