“Sometimes you get angels” – what a good support worker looks like

Many years ago a friend of mine said “Sometimes you get angels”. She was referring to those people who come into your life and support your kids. People who just get it – people who go the extra mile. Sara blogged about the Charlies Angels, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty with Connor – before and since his death quite a few times now. Really special people who make a massive difference. We too have been lucky to have quite a few of those supporting G over the years . Learning support assistants and teachers at both schools. The odd social worker and staff at respite/short breaks to name but a few.

I’ve mentioned quite a bit on here about G’s brilliant support staff at his house but last week I heard that one of them was leaving…I’m gutted!

Sacha (her real name) is to me the epitome of the perfect support worker… and here’s why

Sacha has been working with G since the day he moved in. She was a quiet 17 year old when she started  (and we were involved in her recruitment) and despite some initial reservations about her being so young, she had a lovely way about her, was keen and obviously willing to learn. We could tell that G  liked her and we liked her too!

In the last 5 years she’s grown in confidence, shown real initiative and is always smiley and welcoming when I go to pick up G. She emails and texts me regularly with stories about his day and his week. She sends picture and videos showing me what he’s been doing which I love. I get these messages from other staff too but there’s just something about the way she writes which make me smile. It’s no coincidence either that when I get a Facetime call from G it’s usually when Sacha is on duty. ( unless of course he’s rang me himself by accident – I’m sure he thinks I’m a app on his ipad!) It’s obvious she adores G and the feeling is mutual. Below are a few recent emails. I have so many of these it was hard to choose which one’s to add here…
sacha text 3sacha text 4 text from Sacha 2







What I really like about Sacha is she doesn’t think she’s “the expert”, even though she knows him really well. She always asks me what I think and adds to the things I tell her with her own opinions and experience of working with him. I really appreciate that… even though she probably does know him as he is, on a day to day basis, better than I do now.

Last week I was sitting in on induction training for new staff with Dimensions. The aim of this was to observe how the new induction training includes stuff about working with families. (They were a great bunch of new recruits and I was really impressed with their values and attitude). G’s staff team demonstrate to me that with the right approach to families you can get this absolutely right and I was talking about this when I got this text from Sacha and Celia (another support worker).

text from Sacha

I bloody loved it! Not only does it keep me informed and make me feel involved but it demonstrates that she’s able to encourage him to do new things (for the record I wouldn’t dream of taking him on a bus!) I read it out to the group as an example of good practice




I found out she was leaving by a phone call from the manager. She didn’t just want to tell me in an email because she knew I’d be upset (she rang round the other families who no doubt will be feeling the same! – note, more good practice) Sacha then sent a personal email to us all telling us what a hard decision it was for her to go, how much she loved working with the people she supported and how much she’d learned from being there…oh and that she’d like to stay in touch with them all if that would be okay.

I guess because she is so young and so great at what she does it was only a matter of time before she moved on to something new, but selfishly, I hoped she’d stay a bit longer and maybe be promoted within the organisation instead of leaving all together. I honestly saw her as a team leader or perhaps even a manager one day, such is her ability to listen, learn and be creative. I know it doesn’t always follow that a good support worker makes for a good team leader or manager but in my mind she certainly had some of what should be the essential qualities.

I suppose if I’m being logical I’ve been around long enough to know that people will always come and go in G’s life (we, families really are the only constant…another reason for making sure we stay involved) and have to date managed to keep in touch with most of the one’s I’ve wanted to (helped by things like facebook) and there will be others who come along and be equally fab.  We’re lucky to that we have a great staff team in place anyway and she’s not the only great member of that team. But, I’ll REALLY miss her and I’m sure G will too.

What we have in a support team should be the norm. I pondered on the “sometimes you get angels” comment and wish we could lose the “sometimes” none of this should be just down to luck or individual personalities. For me, a good support worker is someone who shows respect to and values the people they support AND THEIR FAMILIES. Recognises the value in involving families and the people who know and love the person they are supporting best. I’ve always felt that good, honest communication is the key and I had this in bucket loads from Sacha. I’m sure she never felt she was doing anything extraordinary, I’m his mum after all, why wouldn’t she do this but, because she kept me informed about the good stuff as well as the occasional difficulties…and because it was so regular and done naturally I  completely trusted her to support G well. Given the horror stories around at the moment in adult social care this is a BIG DEAL for me and it makes her pretty bloody special in my book!

She’s asked me to write her a reference (sniffs) and of course I’ll be happy to do this and wish her all the best. Any organisation that takes her on will be lucky to have her and our loss will very definitely be their gain.

About Oxfordshire Family Support Network

Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OxFSN) is a not-for-profit organisation run by and for family carers of people with learning disabilities – both children and adults. Oxfordshire Family Support Network (OXFSN) was set up in 2007 by family carers who wanted to use their experience to help others in the same situation, based on our belief that family carers are experts by their lived experience.
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4 Responses to “Sometimes you get angels” – what a good support worker looks like

  1. Debra says:

    It always makes me happy when I hear of stories like this, because it shows that this is how it should be done, and its not much to ask.
    My son has been with Southern Health for 13 years in supported accommodation, he cant speak or use a phone so a simple call/text once a week is all I have ever asked for, but no it cant be done it seems. So I am always last to know about those special moments. So yes these people are angels and I would be sorry to see one go too.

    • emptynestmum says:

      yes!, that’s always been my thing. G can’t speak either. I totally depend on others letting me know how he is. the pictures and videos etc speak volumes. I can tell he’s happy by looking at them. it’s not that it can’t be done. what’s sometimes missing is the willingness to do it. that is what needs to change. It’s not a lot to ask! x

  2. Caroline hu says:

    Lovely to read this Gail and sorry for you and Guy that Sacha is going. Kev has only been in his new place for 10 days and the staff team have been second to none. Texts, calls with pictures at times it seems like they are psychic , and know that we will be wondering how he is! I know its early days but really hope they end up being as brilliant as Guy’s staff team. This transition from the Unit is a tricky time, but gosh they are homing in on the positives and playing down the tricky moments. Take care x

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