Reablement Support Workers across all Health and Social Care Trusts are helping older people to gain their confidence and independence again to live in their own home.
Reablement is a programme of support which promotes independence rather than unnecessary or premature reliance on services, often after an unexpected incident or illness.
Below Maureen Gregg, Reablement Support Worker with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, tells us about her role and how she finds it very rewarding.
You can also listen and view Maureen and her colleague Afonso Afonso explain their role as reablement support workers in this video.
How long have you been working as a Reablement Support Worker Maureen?
I’ve been a Reablement Support Worker now for about two and a half years with the Belfast Trust.
What job did you do before this and how does Reablement differ?
Before this role, I worked in Homecare, which is a long term service provided by the Trust. When I visited clients they were often in same position, such as seated in a chair. I never got to see what a client was capable of doing. You would have gone into the client’s house and completed the task as quickly as possible.
I feel in homecare the service is more task orientated whereas in Reablement it is more client orientated. Reablement is about observing the clients, seeing what they can do for themselves and giving them space and encouragement to complete tasks themselves.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy meeting different clients with different circumstances. I enjoy seeing a person improve and being part of making a difference to a person’s life. It’s good to see an older person who has been low in confidence about completing an activity, increase in their confidence and ability.
Who else works within your team?
In the Reablement Team, I work closely with other Reablement Support Workers, the Reablement Co-ordinator and Occupational Therapists on a daily basis. I would also have some contact with other professionals who may be involved in a client’s care such as District Nurses or members of the Incontinence Team.
I relish being part of the team, especially as we have good communication in our team and with the Occupational Therapists – this is really important.
What hours do you work and what type of tasks do you do?
I complete a six hour shift either from 8am in the morning until 2pm in the afternoon or from 4pm until 10pm in the evening.
In the course of a shift my tasks may differ with each client and could consist of mobility and transfer practice, personal care, meal management, medication management, domestic skills practice and therapy.
Each client receiving reablement support is different, their time within the service may differ and therefore their level of ability may differ. For some clients I may provide assistance with the task, for some I may just be supervising to give them confidence, and for others who are nearing independence it may be a check call to ensure there are no issues.
What age range of people do you work with and what type of medical conditions do they typically have?
The Trust’s Reablement Service takes referrals for clients aged 65 and over, however the majority of our clients would be in their 80s and 90s.
There can be such a varied amount of conditions. We have had a lot of people with fractures – such as wrist, shoulder and hip. Some of our clients who have become unwell at home are often following a fall or a recent chest infection. However, we also have clients coming home from hospital who have had recent surgery or infections.
What training have you been given for this role?
When I started working within the service we had two weeks intensive induction training which covered topics like communication, role of the Occupational Therapist, equipment provision and transfers, activities of daily living, clinical conditions, documentation and recording. Support workers also continue to have mandatory training on a regular basis such as manual handling, infection control and medication management.
In addition, I complete regular joint visits with Occupational Therapists, where I have the opportunity to observe therapists and learn new skills as well as in-service training –which has included topics such as working with people with dementia, palliative care and incontinence care.
Can you tell us Maureen how you feel you’ve made a difference in your role as a Reablement Support Worker?
One particular example was a lady who moved into new accommodation after living with her daughter for a number of years. The lady was anxious about completing all the activities at home particularly meals and medication management as previously these were completed by her daughter.
Initially I spent a lot of time with her showing her how to use the microwave and take her own tablets from the blister pack. The more time we spent together the more confident she became. I also completed therapy calls to increase her confidence in mobilising around the fold. The practice calls, turned into check calls only and eventually she was discharged from the service.
I felt very pleased when she was discharged as she was like a different person and enjoyed her new independence and freedom.