Support worker Marie Groves has fulfilled a lifelong ambition by gaining a post in the learning disability field. She explains what motivates her.
Why did the learning disability field appeal?
My baby sister Ann-Marie, who was five years younger than me, was diagnosed with an unknown disability at birth, and my mother was told she would not live beyond her first birthday. I’m pleased to say that she managed to live until the age of 47 and that her life that was full of love and care from her family at home. Back in the 1970s, long-stay hospital care was often very poor but my parents had a good network of family members, allowing them to look after my sister at home. The happy life I had with my sister made me feel from a young age that I would like to work with people with a learning disability.
When did you switch to this field?
About two years ago. Prior to that I worked at Milton Keynes Hospital as a physiotherapy assistant, where I gained the skills needed for my current role. I waited patiently for seven years until a band 4 post came up in the learning disability team.
Would you recommend the field to other support workers?
Yes. The role challenges you every day to find new and creative ways to achieve the very best results for service users. It’s really rewarding to see them progress.
Give us an example
I help to motivate service users at our weekly physiotherapy gym sessions. I encourage them to participate in a 15-minute ‘dance off’ competition at the end of each session, which they love. This has helped them to increase their stamina, lose weight and, more importantly, we’re all having fun keeping fit – including me.
What size is your caseload?
Band 7 physiotherapist Leah Dennett and I cover the whole of Milton Keynes. Currently, we have 90 service users between us and I have 35. Some have one-to-one sessions and others are members of the weekly gym group. I try to ensure our appointments are near each other to reduce the time spent traveling. This means we can see more service users during the week. It can be difficult to discharge some of our service users. Many need weekly treatments and have complex needs – for example, postural or mobility assessments, respiratory treatment or to attend wheelchair or orthotics appointments. Service users are often re-referred for more treatment after we discharge them and most stay on our list for many years.
You’re also a keen CSP member?
The CSP has helped me in many ways, such as raising my awareness how to set my objectives for continuing professional development. Through reading the course advertisements in Frontline I have gained opportunities to attend various courses. For example, I went on an enjoyable Tai Chi course and have incorporated some of the moves into our weekly gym group – which has been extremely popular with my service users.
I’m due to complete a course in coaching for health and Signalong and I’m developing my knowledge of various learning disability conditions. I would like to continue living a happy life with my family, go sky diving next year on my 53rd birthday and write a book about the Mauritian secrets to longevity. My granddad is 103 years young and lives in Mauritius, where he’s very happy and healthy. I hope to learn what he and the rest of my family do to stay young and fit and to let you all know about it in my book, so that we can do the same.
Marie Groves is a physio technical instructor with the Milton Keynes community team for adults with a learning disability.
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