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21 February 2024

How a Support Worker fast-tracked her Career

Carly Papas Support worker

We recently caught up with Carly Papas, a Senior Support Worker at North West Supported Living.

Carly joined Cygnet in March 2020 in Covid. Her Service then shut down and didn’t re-open until September 2020. Carly joined Cygnet’s North West Supported Living that September, as a Support Worker looking after adults with mental health difficulties. She’d previously worked in Children’s Services but changed to working with Adults, so Cygnet provided a new experience. As a Mum of 3, and with the experience of her eldest daughter having some mental health challenges, she has lived experience of what the mental health journey can be like, and, how best to support people who are experiencing challenging times.

Carly has worked at Cygnet for 2 years as a Support Worker and was promoted to Senior Support Worker in 2022. The role of a Support Worker when compared to a Senior Support Worker differs a great deal.  Whilst Carly still has interactions with the Service Users she has also supported our Wigan, Warrington, Preston, and Macclesfield Services. The split is now approximately 40% time spent with Service Users and 60% of her time spent undertaking management responsibilities.


What do you enjoy most about the job?

I like being busy and it never stops! I love interacting with Service Users and Staff – as I travel – some I don’t see every week but when it’s time to meet up, it’s nice to catch up and see what has been happening and what progress has been made. I also like the travel – I go to Wigan say twice a week and Macclesfield perhaps every other week so there’s variety. They’ve usually missed me and have an issue or two to tell me about! It can be incredibly rewarding too – which keeps me motivated during the more challenging times. I had a real success story last April. We had a Service User over from Ireland who had been with Cygnet for 5 years and we moved him into Assisted Living. Within 4 months he had gone on to start a University course! It makes me so happy to see progress like this happen.


How did the senior promotion come about and have you enjoyed it?

I always knew I wanted to move up but I wasn’t very confident. I can put a brave face on but might not feel as confident doing things like support plans. After 2 years in the role, my confidence has grown massively. It grows a little every day and I’ve been supported to gain new skills. I’ve done Safeguarding and I’m a Safeguarding Lead. I’ve done a Medication Assessor qualification so I can help train new starters in medical assessor competencies. Also, Cygnet has paid and supported me to do a Leadership and Management course Level 3 – which is due to finish soon. Outside of the development opportunities I’ve had, the day-to-day job is different now from when I joined as a Support Worker. I see Service Users every week in their homes and make time to see people and check-in. But the majority of my work now is management which in the main, is very rewarding. Jobs cover things like; managing sickness, being on-call for service users, investigations into complaints, interviewing new people, supporting staff, and assessing care & support plans,

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Are you looking to expand your development further?

Yes – the next stage would be doing my Level 5 in Leadership and Management which I’d like to think about after my Level 3. And eventually, see if there is a vacancy for that level of job in my area.


You’ve worked within Children’s Services prior – what has struck you the most about the way Cygnet provides care – in your 4 years here?

They are so person-centered when it comes to caring for service users. For staff, they’re supportive too. It’s a very emotionally draining job and can be too much for some people but Cygnet does support staff. Staff also support each other – my phone is always on for my team and there are helplines you can call 24/7 to speak to someone about a hard day. We remind the team that a Service User’s behaviour is never personal, it’s someone suffering from mental health.


Have you got any more personal goals?

As I said, my confidence has really grown so I’m enjoying that continuing. I also need to improve my IT skills.

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