Support worker – what makes a good one?

What makes a good and bad support worker?

What makes a good and bad support worker is a question we asked the Storm and Thunder Team. We called the session ‘Frankenstein’s Support Workers’ and we asked the Storm & Thunder Team to imagine we could create a good and bad support worker by putting all the best and worst bits together.

In the past we’ve been accused of being hard on support workers, but we don’t think we are. We’re just hard on the ones who aren’t very good and celebrate the ones who are great. Often they’re not very good because of the poor cultures they’re working in, but they can be part of changing that too. We’ll be doing more work on this but here are the differences between good and bad support workers according to the Storm and Thunder Team, and it’s actually not that hard to put right. Is it??

Support worker - what makes a good one?

This is what they said…

The bad support worker

  • Tell me how to live my life and who I can be friends with.
  • Not fun.
  • Won’t go out late.
  • Call me lazy.
  • They’re lazy.
  • They cook for you when you want to learn for yourself.
  • Treat your home like their home.
  • Make assumptions about me.
  • Don’t keep their promises.
  • Don’t like my ideas.
  • Don’t respect my feelings.
  • Don’t make things happen.
  • Aren’t thoughtful.
  • Disinterested in me and don’t listen to me.
  • Always on their mobile phones.

The Storm and Thunder team are all people with learning disabilities and they’re drawing on their personal experiences of poor support over the years. It’s not good is it?

It’s not all bad though because they also have experience of fantastic support and these are the things that they say make for a really good support worker.

The good support worker

  • Help you.
  • Enjoy doing the same things as you.
  • Talk and listen.
  • Respect me.
  • You can talk to if you’ve got problems.
  • Got a good sense of humour.
  • You can text them or call them.
  • Good at time-keeping.
  • Let you know what’s going on.
  • Explain things to me.
  • Keep their promises.
  • Supportive.
  • Talk about your problems.
  • Caring.
  • Support you to be independent – don’t do too much.
  • Make things happen.
  • Stay out as long as you want to.
  • Join in and enjoy themselves.

In a nutshell they said


A good support worker knows I’m their boss


A bad support worker thinks they’re my boss


Or to put it another way…

A good support worker needs to be


We don’t think that’s rocket science!

We think the first step to getting this right is for the people getting the support to be as fully involved as possible in recruiting the right staff. We’ve got lots of experience of doing this in creative and meaningful ways. Drop us a line if you’d like to get us involved in delivering some training with you around this.

Support worker - what makes a good one?

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