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24 January 2024

Developing your career as a Support Worker at Cygnet

Leanne Flint Blog image

Support workers are the backbone of our organisation providing care for our service users, patients, and residents, all year round.

Leanne Flint initially joined Cygnet as a Support Worker in 2008. For our latest blog, she writes about the training and personal development that has helped her progress her career.

How It Started I joined Cygnet back in October 2008. I’d been working for the NHS in a GP surgery, and after many years I had become disillusioned and needed a new challenge. I wanted to look at how I could give something back to the community around me. My next-door neighbour at the time had started her role at Cygnet and told me about how rewarding the job was and how much she enjoyed working for the Company. I looked online and found a vacancy for the position of Health Care Support Worker at Cygnet Aspen Clinic in Mexborough. I attended the interview and was shown around the Unit. One thing I found particularly interesting was that one of the Service Users was also on the interview panel, asking me questions and giving me advice. Following the interview, I received a call the same afternoon and was asked if I would take a job, split half and half between a Health Care Support Worker and an office-based role. I agreed, and from there I have never looked back.

Inspiration When I was growing up, one of my family members suffered from very bad anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – this changed my life completely, making me grow up very quickly in the big wide world we live in. At the time, mental health was a taboo subject, with a very big stigma around it. I can remember having weekly counselling sessions and chatting about life in regard to mental health and what support was available for young or old carers. Although this was a difficult experience, it gave me a better understanding of the difficulties and complexities of living with a mental health condition on a daily basis.

New Role On my first day at Aspen Clinic, I was full of nerves and anxiety, thinking about whether I had made the right decision. I stepped through the door at 8 am that morning and I’ve never looked back. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was taken to the meeting room where I attended the morning handover from the night staff. I met the full team, including the Hospital Manager, the Head of Care, the Nursing team, the Occupational Therapy team, and the Support team. They were the nicest people I have ever met, and they all worked as one team. You could see from the outset that no one was seen as being more important than any other.

My Working Day My working day as a Support Worker can vary hugely, as no two days are the same. I usually start my shift at 8 am, taking a handover from the night team, who give all the information about the night before to the day staff. The day then starts in the Ward with morning coffee and attending breakfast club with the Service Users. This gives us time to chat and ‘put the world to rights’. We are allocated different responsibilities throughout the day. This can include a visit to Tesco to help a service user with shopping skills, or attending a hospital appointment with one of the ladies, and we’ve even helped with some therapy work with animals at the local animal centre. Every day is fast-paced and always changing. One of the reasons I love my job is that every day is different. So often we take things for granted, but working in this role really opens your eyes to the support we give every day. It really does make a massive impact in people’s lives. 

As a Team Leader, my role now involves supporting the Support Worker team through daily work allocations, planning monthly rotas and annual leave, and staff supervisions. I still spend as much time as possible interacting daily with the team and the service users.

Personal Development During the 15 years I’ve been working at Aspen Clinic, I’ve been offered so much training. I’ve completed NVQ Levels, 1, 2, and 3 in Health and Social Care, which was all funded by Cygnet. I have also been trained in recording ECGs and phlebotomy, and have been qualified for over 12 years. While I’ve been working for Cygnet I have gained so much in my career. I’ve been promoted from my role as a Health Care Support Worker to Team Leader and Carer Lead. My role now includes supporting the Unit as a whole and also helping service users’ families, working together as a team to deliver the best care to our ladies. Involving family and carers is a fantastic pathway to recovery for our service users.

Shared Values My advice to anyone looking for a role with Cygnet is – please come and join us. We have a brilliant team, with lots of potential to improve your career goals and to climb the ladder of success. We also value your opinions and fresh ideas on how to move forward and improve our services. Coming from a small town with a basic knowledge of mental health to now being directly involved in the development of our services and also our team, has been an incredible journey. We follow our values at Cygnet and deliver integrity, trust, empowerment, respect, and care. We can even talk to our Chief Executive at any time about new ideas for our workplace and the organisation. There aren’t many places where you can do this, and I always feel valued as a member of the team. My advice to you is, please never think you’re ‘just a Support Worker’; because at Cygnet you’re the backbone of the team. We work as one to deliver outstanding care to all the individuals we support. The smiles that you see on our service users’ faces at the end of their journey, warms your heart every time.

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