Tina Patterson

Photo of Tina PattersonMy favourite thing as a support worker is assisting people to achieve their personal goals. It’s so rewarding to see, especially helping people regain independence and improving their quality of life. You can also see that joy reflected by our clients’ families, seeing them all happy together.

HealthCare New Zealand asks for us to focus on the client’s needs, and every client is unique. Taking this client-centric approach is very important, and every client has a unique support plan that often changes depending on their progress.

The hardest part of being a support worker is forming friendships. I watched a client pass away of cancer, and I had assisted him for 10 years. Even though death is common in this profession, this one was the hardest thing I’ve been through. I was even asked by the family to talk at his funeral – I was devastated, but at the same time I had to stay professional.

The home support sector has grown tremendously in the last 24 years, and it’s becoming more complex. In the past there weren’t a lot of training opportunities, and some supports were very basic. But now we have more training opportunities, and some are compulsory – which is really great.

You never know what’s around the corner with training and where it may lead, opportunities pop up all the time.  For new support workers just starting I’d say take one step at a time in this sector, never give up. It takes a while to get used to all the policies and procedures. Treat everyone with Dignity, Respect and Support.

Flexibility is very important. We never know what to expect at a client’s home due to their medical conditions. I could tell many stories here – miracle moments, funny, sad. I’ve seen lots of goals achieved, rest home transitions, I’ve seen deaths and how that affects families, and have also seen many unusual requests!  But the home support sector keeps growing, and there will be more stories to tell from other workers too.

It takes a lot to be in this role, but it’s well worth the adventure. The industry is always developing, with the clients at the heart of it. This is my 24th year in home support services, and I’m happy to be here.

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