- This post was updated 4th August 2023
A career as a support worker welcomes many opportunities for personal and professional growth. Due to the nature of the job, support workers will inevitably obtain a range of skills and qualities in their roles, but what are the essential skills and qualities needed to help you progress further in your career and grow as a support worker?
In this article, we will cover the top 6 skills and qualities of a good support worker, why they're important and how to utilise them throughout your career.
What makes a good support worker?
Our Chief Nurse and Registered Manager, Thomas Dowle, tells us what he believes makes a good support worker at Pulse Nursing at Home.
"I believe a good support worker should be kind and compassionate towards clients and families. In their role, they should be respectful, caring, honest, patient, an active listener and non-judgmental. Having a great sense of humour goes a long way too, and so does a smile."
If you’re interested in a support worker career with Pulse Nursing at Home, view our latest support worker jobs in your area.
What skills do you need to be a good support worker?
The skills you need to be a good support worker can be learned and developed over time. You may already have built up a strong set of transferrable skills from your education, previous roles, and wider life experiences. These can all form a good foundation to build on and develop your career as a support worker. Here is our list of the top 6 skills needed to be a great support worker:
1. Strong communication
4. Emotional intelligence
5. Time management
1. Strong communication
Strong communication is a key skill support workers should possess and continue to develop during their careers. Due to the requirements of a support worker role, strong communication skills are important for success. In your role, you’ll need to regularly and confidently interact with a range of people, including your clients, their families, and your colleagues.
Being a confident communicator is particularly important because you may care for people who have difficulty speaking; some may be non-verbal, and others may have conditions or behaviours that make communication difficult.
You may need to have sensitive or difficult conversations with the client’s family or professional discussions regarding medical information with your colleagues.
For further advice on developing your communication skills, read the British Heart Foundation’s guide.
It's important to remember effective communication is a two-way process, even if it’s not occurring verbally. Some clients may sign or use a unique language programme such as Makaton; others might rely on facial expressions or write notes.
Good support workers come to expect the unexpected. No two days are ever the same – which is one of the many things our community support workers love about working at Pulse Nursing at Home.
Even when you have a planned schedule of tasks and activities, you may encounter challenges which throw them off course. The best support workers take this in their stride and adapt using a pragmatic approach, ensuring their client’s wellbeing remains their key focus.
Whatever difficulties you encounter on shift, whether it’s facing physical barriers, such as not being able to access certain places with a wheelchair, or your client is experiencing emotional distress in a public place, you need to remain calm and unflustered. This will show your colleagues and clinical lead you can overcome the challenges by being adaptable while displaying a comforting and reassuring presence to your client.
Support workers who display resilience can retain a better work-life balance. Resilience enables you to ‘switch off’ after a shift and maintain healthy emotional boundaries between home and work.
Support workers are known to be compassionate and driven healthcare professionals who go above and beyond to support those under their care. They possess a range of skills that make them an integral part of the healthcare industry, and resilience is a key skill that will enable you to progress further in your support worker career.
Like many roles across the different health and social care settings, a career as a support worker is both rewarding and challenging at times. You may encounter difficult or upsetting situations and, in some cases, work with people who may lash out verbally or physically.
Emotionally resilient support workers are better equipped to deal with stressful situations and more likely to thrive at work. Remaining calm under pressure allows you to problem solve effectively whilst ensuring the comfort and safety of your client, colleagues and yourself.
4. Emotional intelligence
Emotionally intelligent support workers can successfully identify and manage their emotions and reactions in different environments. Healthcare professionals who display high levels of emotional intelligence are known to progress in their careers and support those under their care in a person-centred way.
A few key elements of emotional intelligence are being aware of your emotions, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings during various circumstances and actively listening and responding professionally in challenging and conflicting scenarios.
For further guidance and advice on building your emotional intelligence, read the Regis College guide.
5. Time management
The role and responsibilities of a support worker are very varied, and good time management skills play an important part in meeting the care needs of your clients. Effective time management is achievable and can positively impact your role if you do it successfully. Here are some tips for improving your time management skills:
- Make lists of your tasks for the day and then put them in priority order so you can tick off the most important things first.
- Delegate when you can. Your colleagues are there to support you and want the very best for the client, so utilise their skills.
- Remember to take breaks to let your mind and body rest for a few minutes while your colleagues monitor the client.
- Be flexible when you can, so you can adapt to unpredictable changes and ensure the client's condition remains stable.
As the saying goes, confidence is key. Displaying confidence in your support worker role is a key skill often associated with leadership. It’s important to remember your client has the confidence in you to deliver bespoke care to them, so displaying confidence in your role will naturally instil more trust and encourage the client to feel as comfortable and calm as possible.
What are the most important qualities of a good support worker?
A support worker career is something that talented and compassionate individuals are driven to do. These people often display certain qualities. Let’s take a look at the most important qualities of great support workers:
3. Can-do attitude
A good support worker will display empathy daily in their role. They will operate in a person-centred way, considering the client's thoughts and feelings and anticipating their needs and emotions, which is particularly important if the client can't speak directly or doesn't feel comfortable communicating.
Empathy and emotional intelligence are integral qualities and skills that support workers should possess. They show you are treating your client as you would want to be treated - with care, compassion, dignity, and respect. Displaying high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence creates an environment where your client can trust you, feel safe and overcome barriers to achieve their personal goals.
Support workers are compassionate individuals who strive to deliver high-quality bespoke care to their clients. In a support worker role, you’re there to encourage your clients to be independent with your guidance. Displaying dedication towards your clients can encourage and enable them to live a fulfilling and gratifying life under your care.
3. Can-do attitude
A career as a support worker is all about empowering others, and a positive can-do attitude is a must. There are times when you’ll encounter challenges you haven’t before, and you’ll recognise them for the valuable learning experience they are. You'll look for new opportunities to gain new skills and enthusiastically seek positive outcomes for your clients.
Support workers often become invested in their client’s progress, helping them to discover what’s in the art of the possible. Whatever success looks like for your client, whether it’s cooking their favourite meal independently or visiting a loved one, you’ll be there to encourage them throughout with a positive attitude.
Compassion is a key quality of any good support worker. Being compassionate with your clients enables them to feel emotionally supported and encouraged to feel more comfortable and calmer. Compassionate support workers will actively listen and communicate with their clients in a supportive and kind manner which will naturally encourage them to ask for support when they need it.
A positive attitude can naturally lift those around you, including the client and your colleagues. Generally, positivity in the workplace can allude to high-quality delivery of care and beneficial outcomes for the client and their mental and physical health. Not only can positivity impact those around you, but it can also change how you feel and think and lead to a successful career.
Being an accountable support worker demonstrates that you’re a reliable and professional individual who understands the impact of your actions and the importance of your duty of care to your clients. Demonstrating accountability in your role will show senior staff you are a trustworthy support worker who displays high levels of emotional intelligence, professionalism, and resilience.
Support worker jobs with Pulse Nursing at Home
Pulse Nursing at Home is a specialist complex care provider that recruits and places highly skilled support workers in the community to care for our clients in their own homes.
We’re always looking to grow our team of passionate support workers. If you would like to join our team of healthcare professionals, then register with us using the form below, or contact our team on 0333 323 3746 or email: email@example.com