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Phillip Gahan is a Support Worker at Community Integrated Care’s Holmdale service in Runcorn.
His team provide around the clock support to five people with learning disabilities, profound physical disabilities, and complex health conditions. Having worked in social care for almost five years, he joined the charity in 2021 and has since completed over 90 pieces of learning, including training
in complex skills such as supporting nutrition through percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) devices and medication administration.
“When I joined Community Integrated Care, I was blown away by the amount of support and training I received, it made me realise just how skilled and specialised the role of a Support Worker is.
In my first social care job, I worked for an organisation that didn’t offer much in the way of learning and development and I was thrown in at the deep end. I dealt with really challenging situations daily, with little to no guidance. It was a strain on my mental health and despite achieving some brilliant things with the people I supported, it became too emotionally bearing, so I left the sector for a while.
I had other jobs in warehouses but was never fulfilled or challenged, and I felt a pull back to social care. When I started working at Community Integrated Care, I felt like it was where I was meant to be. I was surrounded by an incredible team, and it was a relief when I experienced the support and training in place.
GROW has given me a clear map of the skills and knowledge that I need to deliver the best care for the people I support, and equally,
it’s made me feel supported in my job.
At Holmdale, we support people with some complex care needs. This means we need to have a huge range of in-depth knowledge and practical skills just to enable people to live their everyday lives with as much comfort and independence as possible. A few of the people we support use PEG tubes for nutrition and many need up to 11 or 12 different types of medication to be administered at one time, each day.
It’s important that we’re able to deliver this level of skilled input, so that the people we support can live the best lives possible in their own homes, without constant disruption. It means that nurses don’t need to come
in to administer medication – so we’re saving the time of other healthcare professionals too – and we don’t need to take people out of their homes or disturb their daily routines to go to a hospital or medical centre. It removes the cost, inconvenience and, for some people, the trauma of having to attend a medical setting.
As Support Workers, our learning truly never stops, and we are constantly adapting and flexing our approach. When I think about what my role involves, and the knowledge and skills me and my colleagues are required to have, I can’t quite fathom how support work has ever been considered a “low-skilled” role. It’s an insult, and whilst we don’t work in social care for the money, we put in maximum effort and have so much skill and passion for what we do, we deserve to be properly recognised and respected.”

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