Care support worker looking happy

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What does a Care Support Worker do?

by Rachel Chapman, Care Support Worker at Chestnut Tree House.

Many different people and roles make up our amazing Care Team. From; Care Support Workers, Nurses, Counsellors Activity Coordinators and so much more. Each team member plays a vital role encouraging children, young people and families to live life to the fullest.

We catch up with Rachel Chapman, who’s worked at Chestnut Tree House for over 12 years. She tells us everything you wanted to know about the role of a Care Support Worker at a children’s hospice.

Q: What does a Care Support Worker at a children’s hospice do?

My role is to provide individualised care and support to children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and their families. As well as providing personal and clinical care, I also create and provide opportunities for children and young people to play, empower them to make their own choices about what they want to do on their visit, and help access all the everyday activities that children enjoy doing – like painting a picture or playing sports in the garden.

Q: Why did you want to go into the care sector?

I’ve always wanted to work with children. Before I joined Chestnut Tree House, I worked in children’s nurseries and in a children’s home and I knew I wanted to go into the care sector. I chose to join the hospice sector as I knew how rewarding it would be working with the children and young people, and helping them live life to the full, no matter what condition they have.

Q: What does a typical day look like in your role?

Every day is different at Chestnut Tree House. One day we might be playing outside and exploring the woodland walk, and the next could involve providing end-of-life care and helping families through some of their toughest moments.

Due to the complex needs of our children, it’s hard to explain a typical day. But when I arrive in the morning, we catch up with the previous night’s staff for a detailed handover of any children who stayed overnight, run through the details of anyone coming in that day, and sadly, children whose condition deteriorated overnight.

Then, we find out which child we will be spending the day with. We let them decide what they want to do, and they usually choose playtime! At the House, we have a magical multi-sensory room and computer room for when it’s wet outside, and our huge garden with swings and specialist play equipment for when the sun shines. The children can also enjoy our hydrotherapy pool and music room. During the day, we spend a lot of time running around playing games, and make-believe.

Image of Rachel with a love hert sign saying: My favourite part of my job is seeing the difference we make to children and young people and the opportunities we can give them.

Q: What’s your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of my job is seeing the difference we make to children and young people and the opportunities we can give them. We build up relationships with the children, young people and their families and we help them through the different stages of their journeys. It’s a real privilege to be part of their lives.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your role?

I feel privileged to support families when their child is at the end of life. Sometimes this can be quite emotionally challenging, but we’ve built a strong, close-knit team at the hospice and I know I can always chat to my colleagues if I want to.

Q: What is the difference between a Care Support Worker and a Nurse?

Care Support Workers deliver patient personal care and have some clinical skills and are supervised by a Registered Nurse. Registered Nurses have undergone 3-4 years training in their specialist field and have a higher level of accountability.

Q: What is next for you at Chestnut Tree House?

I’m currently completing my Nursing Associate Apprenticeship with Southampton Solent University. When I complete this, I will progress and become a Nurse Associate, which is a new role in the NHS. This means I will work alongside our registered nurses to deliver care for children and young people at the hospice, undertaking more clinical aspects than I do now, and performing and recording clinical observations. I’m really enjoying the training and I am looking forward to putting my training into practice!

Q: What would you say to someone who is considering applying for the role of a Care Support Worker?

It is hard working in the care sector, physically and emotionally, but it really is worth it. It’s such a rewarding role.

Would you like to work for Chestnut Tree House and make a real difference?

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