Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

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Prosopon
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Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:08 pm

Hello, I have been working as a supporter for adults with autism and learning disabilities for five months now and am feeling so demoralised. I love the contact with service-users and feel like I am doing well in that respect, but the company is a difficult one to work for to say the least!

For a start, the communication from management is appalling and often results in stressful situations that impacts on service-users as well as staff, and there is very little supervision (I've had one supervision meeting in five months, when I should be having at least one a month according to their policy).

I think the worst thing though is the difficult relationship I have with my colleagues. There seems to be some communication difficulties (for various reasons) between me and the colleagues I work with directly, and there is also somewhat of a bullying culture. I have unfortunately become a victim of this due to lacking in confidence and struggling with anxiety. I have grown so much in confidence when it comes to the actual job and interacting with service-users, but my confidence in dealing with my colleagues is now non-existent and I feel sick with dread about going to work because of them.

This is my first job since I graduated in 2009 because I have been unwell with mental health problems and unable to work. I have spent years building myself back up and feel like I am finally getting my life back on track, but the problems at work are threatening that. I've recently had a conditional job offer for a role within an NHS mental health trust and am going through the pre-employment checks now. That is anxiety-provoking in itself because I am waiting to be cleared by occupational health and am so worried the job offer will be withdrawn. Plus I am now worried about how I will cope with a new, demanding job when I am feeling so completely exhausted and near broken thanks to the current one.

I am capable of working, but is has to be in the right environment and with the right support. I disclosed my conditions to my employer before I started my current role and was told they were willing to support me, but this just hasn't happened at all. Whether the new job works out or not, I still have to deal with my current role right now and I am struggling.

Anyway, sorry this is so long. I'm not really asking any questions in particular, just looking for some support I suppose. I'm trying to stay hopeful about the job offer because they were so supportive of me at interview stage by making all kinds of adjustments for my disabilities, but I also don’t want to get my hopes up too much. Any support or even advice on how to cope in my current role until I can get out would be very much appreciated. Also, any advice on how to build up my confidence a bit in preparation for the potential new job would also be very welcome. Thanks to anyone who has read all of this!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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miriam
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by miriam » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:24 am

Hopefully the NHS post will have a more supportive culture. And well done for sticking with your job and getting the new one, both took some guts!
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sparklepants
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by sparklepants » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:47 pm

Good luck with the new job - I really hope it comes through quickly, and is a completely different environment for you. :D

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:04 pm

Thank you for the supportive comments. Unfortunately it has been well over a month since I was offered the other job -- things are moving so slowly and I have not even handed in my notice as it feels too risky when the job offer is conditional. So I'm going to be in the current job for at least another four weeks and I just don't know if I can do it for much longer -- I feel like I've reached my limit!

My shift today is a perfect example of what I have had to deal with in this job. I turn up to work to be told that they need me to come in two hours earlier tomorrow. It turns out they have known for weeks that they will need someone to cover an earlier shift (I didn't know this) and yet they tell me about it the day before! And if I'd said I had plans and couldn't do it I'm pretty sure I would have been accused of being inflexible. I have already been accused of being inflexible because I asked for a change in my shift pattern due to my current one making me feel exhausted.

One adjustment I have asked for at work is that, if possible, they give me some advance warning of changes because I can become anxious if I think I'm doing one thing (which I'm mentally prepared) for and am suddenly told I'm doing something else (which I'm not mentally prepared for!) And then they change my shift and don't tell me about until the day before, even though they knew ages ago that they would need to do this. :(

So yeah, I can't wait to get out! But I am worried about the new job as I feel my first foray into this line of work has been completely mentally exhausting. But hopefully the NHS will be a better working environment. I am very excited at the prospect of gaining NHS experience before I have even begun my psychology conversion course! Fingers crossed it works out!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Esuma
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Esuma » Fri Jul 10, 2015 10:35 am

Hi Prosopon :)

I'm sorry you've had to deal with all of this. Support work can be emotionally draining even in the best circumstances at times, let alone having to deal with unsupportive and bullying colleagues.

All I can say is hang in there, you have done amazing so far to have supported the people you have despite being in a hostile and unfriendly environment. I can relate to the problems you've had with shifts etc - in my first SW role my shifts were just awful like that too, rotas done no more than two weeks in advance shifts chopped and changed without being told, over time written into the rota without even being asked - not good at all for someone who also suffers from anxiety but I had the benefit of a lovely staff team I could rely on - the opposite of what your colleagues sound to be. I was so glad when I moved to see how much better things were organised even within a different place in the same company and even though my current role isn't perfect it's much less stressful as a result!

Try not to worry about your new job - I think you'll find the environment will help you much more than your current role and you have been coping despite that.

I know this isn't a 'smart' move as such but if you honestly feel like you are getting to the point where you can't go it anymore and financially if you can afford it as a temporary measure I would consider handing in your notice already. Perhaps even explain your situation and offer to do bank shifts - that way when your notice is up you will still have some income from any shifts you do but it puts you in the driving seat a bit more able to turn down any shifts you don't think you can deal with etc. I know people who have done this whilst waiting for their other job to come through so it is possible!

Perhaps also just keep applying for other roles as well but I think there would have to be something seriously wrong at this stage for them to not follow through with your new job - from what I've heard it is quite common for it to take some time within the NHS from job offer to start date due to all the checks and references etc!

Keep us updated and I wish you the best of luck in your new job

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:37 pm

Esuma wrote:Hi Prosopon :)

I'm sorry you've had to deal with all of this. Support work can be emotionally draining even in the best circumstances at times, let alone having to deal with unsupportive and bullying colleagues.

All I can say is hang in there, you have done amazing so far to have supported the people you have despite being in a hostile and unfriendly environment. I can relate to the problems you've had with shifts etc - in my first SW role my shifts were just awful like that too, rotas done no more than two weeks in advance shifts chopped and changed without being told, over time written into the rota without even being asked - not good at all for someone who also suffers from anxiety but I had the benefit of a lovely staff team I could rely on - the opposite of what your colleagues sound to be. I was so glad when I moved to see how much better things were organised even within a different place in the same company and even though my current role isn't perfect it's much less stressful as a result!

Try not to worry about your new job - I think you'll find the environment will help you much more than your current role and you have been coping despite that.

I know this isn't a 'smart' move as such but if you honestly feel like you are getting to the point where you can't go it anymore and financially if you can afford it as a temporary measure I would consider handing in your notice already. Perhaps even explain your situation and offer to do bank shifts - that way when your notice is up you will still have some income from any shifts you do but it puts you in the driving seat a bit more able to turn down any shifts you don't think you can deal with etc. I know people who have done this whilst waiting for their other job to come through so it is possible!

Perhaps also just keep applying for other roles as well but I think there would have to be something seriously wrong at this stage for them to not follow through with your new job - from what I've heard it is quite common for it to take some time within the NHS from job offer to start date due to all the checks and references etc!

Keep us updated and I wish you the best of luck in your new job
Hi Esuma,

Thank you so much for the supportive and encouraging response. I really appreciate you taking the time to write that.

I love the idea of handing in my notice now but remaining a bank worker. However, I just don't think I'm brave enough, especially as I have now seen the report my GP has written to occupational health. Seeing a list of all the problems I've had over the years/still have now was a bit of a shock. Obviously I know I have them but seeing it all in black and white like that hit me hard. Plus, thinking what it looks like to someone who doesn't know me or hasn't seen how far I have come is rather anxiety-provoking. But hopefully it stands in my favour that despite all those issues I have maintained a tough job for almost six months now under difficult circumstances. I have a telephone consultation with a doctor from occupational health on Monday and hopefully things will move forward after that.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Mush
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Mush » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:01 pm

Prosopon wrote: However, I just don't think I'm brave enough, especially as I have now seen the report my GP has written to occupational health. Seeing a list of all the problems I've had over the years/still have now was a bit of a shock. Obviously I know I have them but seeing it all in black and white like that hit me hard. Plus, thinking what it looks like to someone who doesn't know me or hasn't seen how far I have come is rather anxiety-provoking. But hopefully it stands in my favour that despite all those issues I have maintained a tough job for almost six months now under difficult circumstances. I have a telephone consultation with a doctor from occupational health on Monday and hopefully things will move forward after that.
Hi, I hope the talk on Monday goes well.

My 2 cents about OH:

Way back when I was in the NHS as a nurse I was very concerned about some of my history being a potential problem, funnily enough the nurse who I went to see was very understanding as just said 'is it will a problem now? If not its fine, and if it is we'll put things in place to help'. I got the impression OH is about checking there isn't something that’s going to completely prevent you from performing the role (risk assessment) and to prevent discrimination on the grounds of health/mental health problems. I'd be very surprised given the way you have developed and coped that your history is going to make any major problems for you, maybe just some ‘reasonable adjustments’ maybe not even that.

Main thing is, be honest. Everything comes out in the wash.. so they say....

Good luck, and heres to fresh starts!

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:34 pm

Mush wrote:
Prosopon wrote: However, I just don't think I'm brave enough, especially as I have now seen the report my GP has written to occupational health. Seeing a list of all the problems I've had over the years/still have now was a bit of a shock. Obviously I know I have them but seeing it all in black and white like that hit me hard. Plus, thinking what it looks like to someone who doesn't know me or hasn't seen how far I have come is rather anxiety-provoking. But hopefully it stands in my favour that despite all those issues I have maintained a tough job for almost six months now under difficult circumstances. I have a telephone consultation with a doctor from occupational health on Monday and hopefully things will move forward after that.
Hi, I hope the talk on Monday goes well.

My 2 cents about OH:

Way back when I was in the NHS as a nurse I was very concerned about some of my history being a potential problem, funnily enough the nurse who I went to see was very understanding as just said 'is it will a problem now? If not its fine, and if it is we'll put things in place to help'. I got the impression OH is about checking there isn't something that’s going to completely prevent you from performing the role (risk assessment) and to prevent discrimination on the grounds of health/mental health problems. I'd be very surprised given the way you have developed and coped that your history is going to make any major problems for you, maybe just some ‘reasonable adjustments’ maybe not even that.

Main thing is, be honest. Everything comes out in the wash.. so they say....

Good luck, and heres to fresh starts!
Thank you, Mush. Your response has helped ease my fears a lot.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:37 pm

My telephone consultation today did not really go especially well and I now have to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor. I'm under the impression though that it is just so they can be sure they are offering the right advice to my potential employer on adjustments, not that they think I am incapable. But I am still slightly worried that they are thinking that too! The doctor wasn't especially reassuring. Also, it has been almost 8 weeks since my job offer now and I am so, so worried that the employer will grow sick of waiting for me or think I am not really worth all this trouble. This is not a nice situation to be in!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Mush
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Mush » Tue Jul 21, 2015 10:16 am

Prosopon wrote:My telephone consultation today did not really go especially well and I now have to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor. I'm under the impression though that it is just so they can be sure they are offering the right advice to my potential employer on adjustments, not that they think I am incapable. But I am still slightly worried that they are thinking that too! The doctor wasn't especially reassuring. Also, it has been almost 8 weeks since my job offer now and I am so, so worried that the employer will grow sick of waiting for me or think I am not really worth all this trouble. This is not a nice situation to be in!
Ok, I'm sorry to hear this. But I'm not shocked they've asked you to come in - considering you've mentioned there’s rather a lot of things. Dr's can be rude (but maybe it was just a bad telephone manner?). Also things taking a long amount of time in the NHS is not shocking, it's their OH which has taken so long to sort out appointments, its not your problem. Trust me - NHS was perfectly happy leaving me waiting for 4/5 months to start a post they wanted ASAP. 'Quick' in the NHS has a different meaning to the rest of us I think :P.

Feel free to ignore the below:
I know advice giving is a no no: but what I will say is, I can feel the anxiety coming through - just keep an eye on it and how its impacting how you're responding/framing interactions. You're capable person - you'll be FINE! :D if things do not go well (which is unlikely) you'll manage! Trust yourself :D

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Sat Jul 25, 2015 11:35 am

Mush wrote:
Ok, I'm sorry to hear this. But I'm not shocked they've asked you to come in - considering you've mentioned there’s rather a lot of things. Dr's can be rude (but maybe it was just a bad telephone manner?). Also things taking a long amount of time in the NHS is not shocking, it's their OH which has taken so long to sort out appointments, its not your problem. Trust me - NHS was perfectly happy leaving me waiting for 4/5 months to start a post they wanted ASAP. 'Quick' in the NHS has a different meaning to the rest of us I think :P.

Feel free to ignore the below:
I know advice giving is a no no: but what I will say is, I can feel the anxiety coming through - just keep an eye on it and how its impacting how you're responding/framing interactions. You're capable person - you'll be FINE! :D if things do not go well (which is unlikely) you'll manage! Trust yourself :D
Thank you so much for the reassurance, Mush. I am very anxious about this situation but keep trying to tell myself that the employer has come this far with me and are unlikely to withdraw the offer if they can help it, especially as they'd have to start the pre-employment checks from scratch if they decided to go with someone else! Plus I was open about my mental health problems at interview so they must have realised then that it would take me a while to get through the occupational health process.

Anyway, things at work are getting so difficult and I almost handed in my notice yesterday. I had requested one day of annual leave next month and my manager denied it in a very abrupt manner, even though I have requested it within the correct time-frame. I worked out if I handed in my notice then my last day would be the day before I needed off. I was prepared to do this as I absolutely cannot work the day I have requested off. Once they realised I was serious about handing in my notice they miraculously managed to find cover for the shift!

Also, today I have been pressured into starting my shift an hour earlier tomorrow morning, despite doing a late shift tonight. I also got laughed at when I said I was unwilling to do sleepovers because I do not think it is safe to have one member of staff for two male adults with learning disabilities who have been known to display aggressive behaviour. And this is not the first time I have been laughed at! Recently one of the people I support confided something in me that I felt we should take seriously and address, but when I reported it to my team leader she laughed at me and dismissed it.

Part of me wishes I had handed in my notice yesterday because I do not want to work with people like that. It feels so risky when the other job isn't definite but I am seriously considering quitting sooner rather than later, even without a firm job offer in place. I think I will try to wait and see how my face-to-face appointment goes and if I feel good about it, hand my notice in then. But if I feel I am at a point where I know I just can't be there anymore, I will do it sooner.

I feel so sad because I actually love most parts of the job and have built up an incredible rapport with the main person I support. It is going to be an absolute wrench to leave him and I feel guilty about how much it will disrupt his life to have yet another support worker leave (unsurprisingly the company has a high turnover of staff!) But I have to look out for my own wellbeing and I do not want to work for a company that doesn't care about its staff or laughs at them when they raise concerns. I am better off out of there!

Sorry for the ramble... just needed to get this out. Thanks to anyone who has read it!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Alex
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Alex » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:02 pm

Prosopon wrote:My telephone consultation today did not really go especially well and I now have to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor. I'm under the impression though that it is just so they can be sure they are offering the right advice to my potential employer on adjustments, not that they think I am incapable. But I am still slightly worried that they are thinking that too! The doctor wasn't especially reassuring. Also, it has been almost 8 weeks since my job offer now and I am so, so worried that the employer will grow sick of waiting for me or think I am not really worth all this trouble. This is not a nice situation to be in!
It can be quite usual to see a doctor if you have disclosed any mental or physical health difficulties. From their point of view, they would have been neglectful if they did not consider any adjustments and supports that need to be in place for you to perform your job.

8 weeks - Welcome to the NHS! Again (as Mush has suggested) 8 weeks is not long in NHS HR world. HR grinds slowly. If concerned ring HR and/or your interview contact, it may help your locus of control.

rebeccasmith1201
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by rebeccasmith1201 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 2:13 pm

Hi Prosopon,

I'm sorry to hear that things are still difficult within your current work, however I think it's a credit to yourself that you're able to recognise and reflect on situations. In terms of the concerns you raised about the care, are there any other colleagues that you're able to discuss this with? Or do you have a policy to follow with somebody else to raise it with? I can imagine you felt really frustrated when you raised these concerns with a manager (which can often take a lot of courage in itself), and the conversation didn't go as expected. Keep looking after yourself, go out with friends/family and use all the self-care strategies I'm sure you have :).
assistantpsych.blogspot.com

Prosopon
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Prosopon » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:28 pm

rebeccasmith1201 wrote:Hi Prosopon,

I'm sorry to hear that things are still difficult within your current work, however I think it's a credit to yourself that you're able to recognise and reflect on situations. In terms of the concerns you raised about the care, are there any other colleagues that you're able to discuss this with? Or do you have a policy to follow with somebody else to raise it with? I can imagine you felt really frustrated when you raised these concerns with a manager (which can often take a lot of courage in itself), and the conversation didn't go as expected. Keep looking after yourself, go out with friends/family and use all the self-care strategies I'm sure you have :).
Thanks, Rebecca. I did take my concerns to the deputy manager and he seemed much more receptive. I'll be interested to see if anything happens. I also told him about the team leader laughing at me as I think he should know how she responds to genuine concerns. It definitely takes courage to raise concerns with management and I've had to do it three times now. I feel like a snitch but I have strong ethics and take safeguarding very seriously so know I've done the right thing, even it feels horrible. My first job in the social care sector has certainly been an eye-opener and a huge learning curve!

Thanks also to Alex for your response. It's reassuring to know the NHS can generally be very slow when it comes to recruitment.

My face-to-face with occupational health is this week and I am getting nervous. But I am also looking forward to getting it out the way and hope things will move fast after that. Still, part of me remains worried the job offer will be withdrawn and so I have been applying for other roles, including a position I like the sound of even more than the one I have a conditional offer for (I'm not too sure how I'll handle things if I get an interview!)

I so badly want to hand my notice now in but the risk still stops me. Although financially I would be okay if unemployed for a few months, I don't think I would be okay mentally as I need to feel useful and as if I am contributing to society (and voluntary work doesn't make me feel that way). So I would rather be in a terrible job than have no job at all! Then again, I know this job isn't doing wonders for my mental health either, not only because of the lack of support, but because of things I keep seeing that don't rest easy on my conscience, and that I feel powerless to do anything about. I hope not all care jobs are like this! Fingers crossed my next role is in a much more supportive and ethical environment.

Anyway, I am thankful to the people who have been responding to my rambles!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Esuma
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Re: Feeling very demoralised in support worker role

Post by Esuma » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:09 pm

Best of luck with your occupational health appointment :) Let us know how you get on. And trust me they aren't all like this, the grass definitely is greener! :)

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