The Full Guide To Being A Successful Support Worker

Table of contents


    support worker is vital to individuals who require assistance with daily living and special needs to be supported. There are lots of questions and factors that go into being a support worker so we’ve created a guide to help.

    In this blog we’ll answer the most common questions about being a support worker, as well as giving advice and tips from an expert college instructor to help you reach your career goal in this field.

    This blog includes:

    • What is a support worker?
    • How much does a support worker earn?
    • How to become a support worker
    • How to be a good support worker
    • How could a support worker’s career progress?
    • How to prepare for a support worker interview
    • 10 questions and answers for a support worker job interview

    What Is A Support Worker?

    The role of a support worker varies depending on the specialty of the worker, and the requirements of the individual. Specialty for a support worker can include a family support worker, a mental health support worker, a community support worker, and a personal support worker. 

    The main overall goal of a support worker is to assist clients and their families. Support workers aim to ensure the comfort and safety of clients and provide catered assistance based on the individual’s needs and requirements. 

    They can work alone or as part of a team as they can be located in the home of the individual, at a care facility or at a day centre. In any case, support workers will need to work with others in their field who also assist their clients.

    The tasks of a support worker include Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), which involves helping their client to perform daily tasks. They provide personal care, necessary health care, emotional and practical support for the client and their family, and help people live their lives as independently as possible.

    Support workers can also teach their clients important life skills that they may not have learned elsewhere, skills such as doing their taxes or budgeting.

    How Much Does A Support Worker Earn?

    The base salary for a support worker is around $20.11 per hour, which works out to around $39,219 annually.

    There are a lot of opportunities for growth, and while the role can be challenging, the job satisfaction with this career is high.

    How To Become A Support Worker

    While there are no official certifications required to become a support worker, a certification such as an Addictions and Community Service Worker Diploma will give you the edge over other candidates competing for the same job position.

    As well as having a certification, employers looking to hire a support worker are often looking for transferable skills. These skills include:

    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • Digital (IT skills)
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Problem solving
    • Ability to take initiative
    • Time management
    • Workload management
    • Listening and communication skills
    • Customer service
    • Caring attitude
    • Team work

    These transferable skills can be developed from previous job roles, or from education and personal experience. The most desirable skills that will give you an advantage are:

    • Ability to drive
    • Ability to support someone with complex needs
    • Understanding the difference between helping someone and enabling them to help themselves
    • Flexibility
    • Good communication skills
    • Creativity

    You can gain the knowledge and experience needed to develop these skills usually by completing an Addictions and Community Service Worker Diploma or other types of personal support worker programs.

    How To Be A Good Support Worker

    We spoke to ABM College’s Addictions and Community Service Work Studies instructor, Shirvington Hannays, about what he believes is the key to being a successful support worker.

    While a lot of people have the desire to help people, provide care services, and be a support worker, Hannays believes that not everyone should pursue the career, “There is a thin line between helping those we support and hurting them.” 

    “Especially if they themselves have (their) own trauma or mental health issues that are not being treated. They shouldn’t be seeking to have power over others because they do not have all the answers to life’s potential stresses, distresses, or challenges.”

    “When those who seek to help others are doing so with the wrong self-interest and motivation, they are not a good fit to give therapeutic help and support to others.”

    Hannay's advises that to be a successful support worker, the intentions must be right. In order to facilitate the growth and development of a client, a support worker must have the desire, knowledge and skills to manage their own growth.

    How Could A Support Worker’s Career Progress?

    A support worker is often a stepping stone in the care management industry. There are very good opportunities to grow, with further study and experience often leading to a support worker becoming a team leader, service manager, social worker or nurse. Support workers often have a niche or specialist area that they are interested in and go on to study further.

    Shirvington Hannays says that it takes work to progress from the support worker role, but there are many opportunities to do so, “Those who are willing to put long hours of listening, empathizing, not taking client success or failure as yours, and doing your own self-care...along with continuous academic, professional and industry specific development will progress.”

    “Get certified and licensed as needed then do everything ethical to maintain your licence and related designations.”

    How To Prepare For A Support Worker Interview

    As far as preparing for a job interview goes, Shirvington Hannays recommends to come prepared, “Like any other job interview, dress for success, know the company, surprise the interviewer(s) with your open-mindedness and willingness to learn, support, and empower others.”

    The three best things to remember when preparing for a job interview are: 

    • Practice - have a mock interview in the exact same clothes, circumstances, and as close to the environment as possible.
    • Prepare - Research the company and thoroughly read the job description, prepare your answers to common questions by reading further in this blog, and have your own questions ready to go.
    • Be Professional - maintain eye contact, smile, and speak eloquently. Remember that you are being judged on the first impression that you are making. So make sure that you’re presenting yourself appropriately.

    10 Best Questions And Answers For A Support Worker Job Interview

    We looked into some of the most common interview questions, and the best answers to give, and, with the help of Shirvington Hannays, have compiled a list for you to read and remember:

    1. What lived experience do you have?

    This is your opportunity to talk about your education, qualifications, and previous experience in this specific role or the care industry in general. Highlight the transferable skills that you have developed and relate them back to your experience.

    “I have an Addictions and Community Service Worker diploma from ABM College, and I was placed in a practicum at a care facility during my time studying. The course not only equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this role, but gave me the practical, on-the-job training that was hugely beneficial. During my practicum, I assisted in assessing the needs of clients, creating a treatment plan, and dealing with difficult clients and situations, which I believe cemented my desire to further my career in this field.”

    1. What are your motives for wanting to support others?

    Shirvington Hannays advises to be wary of this question and word your answer to avoid talking about wanting to solve all problems, change people, or fix clients. Instead, show your caring, empathic, and understanding nature.

    “I want to do my best to enable clients to live their lives to the fullest and make sure that they remain as independent as they possibly can be. I understand that my role is not to do everything for the client, but to assess their individual needs and do what’s best for them, rather than what’s easiest for me. I have a very good understanding of how to help clients with mental health problems, trauma, and disabilities, both from my education and from my personal experience caring for elderly and disabled relatives from a young age.”

    1. Can you describe what you think a support worker does?

    You can take this chance to show off your knowledge and education on this industry, as well as drawing on your research about this specific role at the company.

    “I think that the role of a support worker is that of a helper and facilitator. We are there to help clients and support them in any way they need. Our role is to assess a client and ensure that our treatment plan is accurate and kept up-to-date and never focuses on anything or anyone other than the client and their requirements.”

    1. What can you bring to this support worker position?

    The interviewer is asking you about your own soft skills and how they align with their requirements. Remember to include your best and most relevant skills, and leave out the ones that aren’t necessarily interesting or relevant to this role based on the job description and company research out of it.

    “I can bring patience, understanding, and reliability. I have hands-on experience from my practicum with ABM College, and I have always wanted to have a career as a support worker. Due to my personal experience, I have a very good understanding of the elderly, and people with mental illness and disabilities, and I believe it’s what makes me perfect for this role.”

    1. Give an example of a challenging situation and how you have dealt with it in the past

    This question is about how you can remain level-headed under pressure and deal with a stressful client or situation. Highlight your time management skills and your ability to manage your workload and communicate with clients who may be challenging.

    “I think that each stressful situation, like every individual person, needs to be treated in the most beneficial and effective way. I’ve had citations in the past where a client has become stressed and aggravated, when I’ve calmed them down by understanding exactly how to listen and communicate with them and. I’ve also had challenging situations that are cause by an increased workload and deadlines, and I’ve obviously had to deal with them by drawing on my time management and organization skills.”

    1. How would you assess a client’s needs?

    You will need to draw on your knowledge from your education, and any personal experience you have when assessing the care needed for specific individuals.

    “I will need to speak to the client and their support network to get a general idea of what they believe their requirements are when making an initial assessment, and then update and adjust the treatment plan based on the needs to become apparent as I get to know the client more, and if their situation improves or worsens. My main priority is to differentiate between assisting and advising clients based on what they are physically, mentally, and emotionally able to cope with.”

    1. Why are you leaving your previous job?

    If you are leaving a previous position because of personal issues with coworkers or upper management, try to word your answer in a way that doesn’t make you seem difficult to get along with. If you have no previous experience and have just gained your diploma, make them aware of that.

    “My previous role was really beneficial for me at the time and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to grow and develop the skills needed to further my career as in the care industry. I left because I felt that I was ready to move to the next level and pursue my career goals.”

    1. How do you define ‘professional boundaries’ and implement them?

    This question will often be asked when interviewing for a care assistant position that leaves carers alone with clients regularly. Highlight the fact that every individual has individual needs and that you will respect personal boundaries as well as general boundaries.

    “I have a thorough understanding of the limits of carer and client confidentiality, and understand the physical and psychological boundaries that should always be respected. I also know that every client is going to have their own personal boundaries and I should adjust my behaviour and expectations accordingly.”

    1. How do you develop a client’s treatment plan?

    This is similar to the earlier question about assessing a client. This is a chance to show how you are able to adapt and adjust the new developments in your job.

    “I think that having a good relationship with a client will make it a lot easier to see the development in their condition and make it clear which areas of the treatment plan need to be tweaked or changed completely. I understand that the conditions of clients can improve or decrease subtly or rapidly, and I need to be ready to make the appropriate adjustments when I believe it’s necessary.”

    1. What are your career goals?

    While many people are happy to work as a support worker for the entirety of their career, others might be looking to seize the opportunities given to them and move on to more senior positions. No employer wants to hear that a candidate is planning to leave them after just a few months, so emphasize your commitment and desire to remain stable, while also looking to develop.

    “Right now my goal is to develop my skills as much as I can, while learning new techniques and challenging myself as a support worker. I am interested in staying at a company for a very long time and I want to improve and progress as much as possible.”

    This guide should give you an understanding of the expectations and requirements of being a support worker, and help you decide whether this career is right for you. If you would like more information about this career and what it takes to be work in this field, take a look at our 5 Community Service Worker Responsibilities That Are Essential blog.

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