The true value of a Support Worker09 March, 2022
Leigh Widdowson is living proof that support workers go beyond the call of ‘just cleaning’.
Yes, she cleans and helps around the home like any other support worker, but Leigh has found true value in her role through her compassion and love of listening to her client’s stories.
Since joining the team three years ago, Leigh has been serious about putting the ‘care’ in ‘CentacareCQ’. She still remembers the day that she met her first client as if it were yesterday.
“She was 93-years-old, living on her own and she had early signs of dementia,” Leigh said. “I showed up at her house at 7.30am and she was sitting on the lounge chair, undressed and cold from the winter chill.”
Leigh said she immediately went into action to help her. “I gave her a shower, made her warm, prepared her some breakfast and we sat on the couch together and had a chat,” she explained. “She opened up to me and I soon discovered that she was lonely. She wanted company and was grateful for having me there to talk and listen to her. She had been living on her own for some time and her family did not live close by.”
A self-confessed people-person, Leigh has always enjoyed meeting new people. She admitted with a cheeky smile: “I know so many stories from clients because I ask. I suppose you have to be a little nosy. I’m a sticky-beak – but in a nice way. All of my clients have amazing stories. You can learn so much from them. You’re not meant to take the clients with you emotionally, but you do.
If there’s one thing Leigh has taken away from being a support worker, it’s that the role is more than ‘cleaning homes’. “We don’t just clean houses and give showers. We are there to listen to them and make them feel cared for,” Leigh exclaimed proudly. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to bring someone warmth and companionship. To give them company and non-judgement.”
When asked what she enjoyed most about her role, Leigh replied: “Anything and everything – it doesn’t matter. I remember having a chat with my manager a while back and we were talking about cleaning toilets,” she bizarrely shared. “We questioned each other about ‘what joy does cleaning do for a toilet?’ Well, in actual fact, cleaning a toilet gives the client joy in knowing that their toilet is clean because they might not be able to do it themselves. You can always find a way of explaining what we do and the joy that it brings to people, no matter what.”
Leigh said she enjoyed being a support worker because she loved people. “This is not an industry that you do for the money, this is an industry that you join because you love people,” she said. “If you show compassion, empathy, understanding and respect, they [clients] will do the same.”