'Relevant' Experience

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Cal
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:23 pm

'Relevant' Experience

Post by Cal » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:34 am

Hi all,

I am currently an undergraduate and I am in the process of looking for jobs which will enhance my employability following my degree - i.e. for Assistant Psychologist posts, and in time, the DClinPsych.

I currently volunteer with both ChildLine and Samaritans, but I work part-time (during term, FT during summer) at a big 4 financial firm (which, as you can imagine, is not exactly the most 'relevant' of positions). However, I would really like to find a job in the health and social care sector, or as an RA (but I am not able to apply for the summer posts at my university until next year!).

I noticed that many people have experience of working as a Support Worker prior to applying for the doctoral course (or at least that seems to be the case according to the 'experience prior to training' thread). However, I've noticed a lot of the jobs I see advertised under the guise of 'support worker' sound more similar to 'care worker' jobs - that is, feeding and cleaning service-users, tidying their homes, etc - whereas very few involve assessing service-users' needs and putting plans into place to meet their needs.

Is anyone willing to share exactly what their 'relevant experience' (prior to finding an AP post) entailed, particularly those who worked as a support worker?

Many thanks,

Cal

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Psychological
Posts: 121
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Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by Psychological » Sun Jul 13, 2014 1:35 pm

Hi Cal and welcome!

My first job after graduating was being a Support Worker on an acute mental health ward. The patients were anything from 18 upwards and had a variety of problems and diagnoses including bi-polar, schizophrenia and severe depression which may have made them feel suicidal.

My role did not involve washing or cleaning patients. It would involve things like making sure I had one-to-one conversations with my allocated patients for that shift and documenting it in their notes, escorting patients out in the community if they were given escorted leave as part of their section, being part of a rapid response team and dealing with difficult situations within the unit, co-facilitating groups with a Clinical Psychologist and others with an Occupational Therapist. I did also get the chance to do care plans with patients and many other things on top of that.

The job was varied as you never knew what would happen from one shift to the next. I learnt a lot from it though and would definitely recommend it as a starting point. This helped me get my job after that (in IAPT) and now I'm about to start the DClinPsy in September.

You may also find this topic interesting as more people give their accounts of doing the role in different places:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1919

If you have anymore questions feel free to ask, and good luck!

cral
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:37 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by cral » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:22 pm

Hi cal.

I would very much say it depends upon what your notion of assessment/implementing care plans is. If it's sitting down asking lots of questions and then writing stuff down on a piece of paper I would say it's probably less like that. Equally I would say that washing/dressing and cleaning somebodies home is implementing a care plan if this is what their needs are! I think a job such as a support worker is possibly one of the best opportunities to prepare you for any future work and it's probably a role that is more meaningful and valued by clients. Sometimes the skills required to be a support worker are underestimated so personally I believe it to be a valuable platform for somebody just commencing their career or indeed in its own right!

ImaginePsych
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:37 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by ImaginePsych » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:52 pm

I would second cral's post. Support Work type roles are some of the most rewarding & challenging roles. Soon after graduating I commenced a Support Work position with an acquired brain injury service initially planning to stay 6-12 months seeing it as more of a stepping stone to a more 'psychological' role. I ended up staying for 2 years - I absolutely loved it, and took up a Senior role with the service. I still hold that this was the position I have learned the most from and it most definitely helped me secure my current position as a PWP within an IAPT service.

Snowman
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2014 10:25 am

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by Snowman » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:10 pm

Hi Cal,

I was a Support Worker in a forensic mental health unit after finishing my undergrad, and I'm starting the doctoral training in September. All the Clinical Psychologists that have supervised me have been a support worker before, and most people I have met along the way have also had support worker jobs. Admittedly I have gone into the job thinking I will do very manual roles (like cleaning etc), and the role did entail that at times, but it was so much more than that. It was so valuable for me to interact with clients on a human-to-human level, rather than nurse to client or psychologist to client. When clients see you day in and day out it really fosters a trusting therapeutic relationship, and I think that is the basis for all clinical work and certainly are one of the core competencies for trainee psychologists. Working as a support worker really helps to pick out things they've taught in uni and see it in a realistic setting - like how working individually with someone can be so different to working with groups, seeing how mental health diagnoses affect the individual on a day to day manner etc.

Saying this, support worker roles do vary. Have a look out for what type of service it is, and what the person specs would like you to show.. You can usually get some clues there!

lingua_franca
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Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:13 pm

Depending on the job, support work can involve a lot of physical care. But don't knock it, it is valuable experience in its own right, and I have to admit I wince a bit when I come across the idea that it isn't relevant - it comes across almost as being 'too posh to wash'. I used to support a girl with a severe learning disability, and bath times were great - we used to sing some songs together (well, she couldn't really sing the words, but she would laugh a lot and hum along) and I used to take a bubble-blower into the bathroom so that she could blow some bubbles. This was related to her speech therapy: she had to get her lips into a certain shape to blow the bubbles, and this would ultimately help with her speech and swallowing as she had very poor control over her oro-facial movements. I had the idea of getting a bubble-blower one day when I noticed how much she liked bubble bath. It might not seem like 'assessment of need' in the formal sense, but this is exactly what it was. Beyond that, it was also a great way to connect with someone and to gain a holistic understanding of how their impairment affects them in the most ordinary everyday aspects of their lives, which you would not necessarily see from AP-type work. You really can learn a lot from these more physical jobs and they will inform your practice further down the line.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Pinkcrocodile
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Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by Pinkcrocodile » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:34 pm

Hi cal,

You may find the following thread helpful:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=17045

And with regards to support worker roles, I agree with everyone else in that they really are the most rewarding and challenging experiences which can help you learn and grow a great deal. They are a great way to get your foot on the ladder, while developing valuable knowledge and skills :)

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AnonymousMouse
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:31 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by AnonymousMouse » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:07 pm

I definitely echo the sentiments of others. My first relevant job was as a support worker, and while there was some personal care involved (cooking, cleaning, assisting with bathing) there were so many other skills that I developed, such as really seeing the ins and outs of life for the clients that I worked with. You'd be surprised how valuable just 'being' with a person can be, both for the client and actually in helping to understand the clients needs. I doubt that I would have the level of empathy, compassion or understanding that I have now if I hadn't taken this job.

Also, I know that it's tempting for psych graduates to somehow see this work as 'below' them, and I've known many people who think that the job isn't relevant or useful unless you are actually formulating care packages for people and delivering specified interventions. However, while working in this job I was lucky enough to become key worker for a young person who had been in care from a very early age. This person was known for their extremely challenging behaviour, which actually was completely understandable in the context of the early life trauma and neglect that they had received. It was only working closely with this person that I was able to build one of the first trusting relationships that they had experienced, which had a profound effect on their life that I was able to witness. I wouldn't have been able to do this in a more 'professional' role, as this person DID NOT trust anyone in positions of power partly due to their early (and ongoing!) experiences of abuse. Even though it was 'only' a support worker job, it got me my first AP post, and I used examples of my work as a support worker in my Doctorate interview. I was offered a place on the course with extensive support worker/HCA experience and only limited AP experience, which shows how important these jobs are!

Mouse

Cal
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Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:23 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by Cal » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:35 pm

Hi all,

Thank you so much for your replies! They were both enlightening and very informative! Hopefully I will soon acquire a similar strain of knowledge and contribute to the forum over the coming years :)

I have been fortunate enough to gain a position with Autism Initiatives as a Support Worker on a part-time basis (16 hours per week) and I am due to begin a few weeks after I begin my second year of uni!

In essence, I will be working with adults who have been diagnosed with ASD and will be involved in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating individual care plans. Of course, part of the role includes some generic care-work, but I am not deterred by this. There is no supervision from a CP, but at this stage I am not too fussed about this. I'm hoping this position will provide some firm grounding for future positions, however, I fully intend on seeing it as more than just a 'stepping stone'. Very glad to be working with a 'clinical population' and I hope I am not causing offence when I say that.

Thanks again for your replies. If anyone has experience of working with adults diagnosed with ASD, I would love to hear about your experiences.

I really hope the role is somewhat comparable to the Support Work roles that those from the mainland have filled (I am from Belfast) as there definitely seems to be more scope in the likes of England, Scotland, and Wales, compared to Northern Ireland (which is very Dementia focused).

Cal

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amyaston88
Posts: 78
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Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by amyaston88 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:02 pm

Cal wrote:Hi all,

Thank you so much for your replies! They were both enlightening and very informative! Hopefully I will soon acquire a similar strain of knowledge and contribute to the forum over the coming years :)

I have been fortunate enough to gain a position with Autism Initiatives as a Support Worker on a part-time basis (16 hours per week) and I am due to begin a few weeks after I begin my second year of uni!

In essence, I will be working with adults who have been diagnosed with ASD and will be involved in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating individual care plans. Of course, part of the role includes some generic care-work, but I am not deterred by this. There is no supervision from a CP, but at this stage I am not too fussed about this. I'm hoping this position will provide some firm grounding for future positions, however, I fully intend on seeing it as more than just a 'stepping stone'. Very glad to be working with a 'clinical population' and I hope I am not causing offence when I say that.

Thanks again for your replies. If anyone has experience of working with adults diagnosed with ASD, I would love to hear about your experiences.

I really hope the role is somewhat comparable to the Support Work roles that those from the mainland have filled (I am from Belfast) as there definitely seems to be more scope in the likes of England, Scotland, and Wales, compared to Northern Ireland (which is very Dementia focused).

Cal
this sounds like it will be great experience :) I currently work as an AP in a secure ASD service for adult males, and I love working here. I have learnt so much, and it has spurred me on to gain more experience in working with ASD and so I'm starting a volutary placement with children soon.

purpledot
Posts: 99
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: 'Relevant' Experience

Post by purpledot » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:35 pm

Hi Cal,

I would also like to suggest to look into jobs advertised by charities and other non-NHS organisations. There are many support worker or similar roles advertised (often under the guise of "project worker" or "young person's practitioner" etc) which can offer some fantastic experience, e.g. working with young people leaving the care of the local authority, working with children and young people with learning disabilities or parents with learning disabilities, or working with young people making the transition from CAMHS to AMHS. There are also occasionally assistant psychologist positions if you look long enough, which often have a smaller number of applicants than NHS positions and may be for longer than the standard 12 month position.

Good luck with your search!

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