According to Canada Association of Social Workers, social work (also widely known as community support service) is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups, and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being.
Community support workers provide services directly to people who are facing numerous challenges, from abuse, addictions, to health disorders, and various medical conditions. Community support workers can work in a variety of places such as government agencies, schools, hospitals, clinics, community care centers, and many other types of workplaces. If you’re interested in developing a career in community support services, check out these 7 skills that every successful community support worker should have!
Empathy is the ability to identify and understand another person’s situation. For community support workers, being able to empathize makes it easier to identify client’s main challenges and help them solve problems. The most important characteristic of a community support workers is indeed empathy. The people you work with are in a state of crisis and emotional distress. Therefore, you must be able to offer a caring, understanding, and empowering environment to sooth them.
Social work requires patience, a lot of patience. The caretaking and counseling involved in community support services are highly complex. It requires a lot of time and professional skills, while the intended progress does not appear overnight. As a community support worker, your clients may not even be able to communicate their needs directly with you due to their conditions. You must obtain a strong mindset to stay patient with difficult people and situations, as your clients are going through rough times and they need your support.
As a community support worker, there are situations when your clients need your urgent care. A crisis may occur at any moment and your immediate attention needs to be delivered. Whether you are new to the field or advancing your career, flexibility is needed in order to meet the specific needs of the agency and clients. There is no 9-5 schedule in this industry. At the same time, knowing how to prioritize and complete several tasks at once is crucial to getting things done in an effective and efficient manner.
Being organized will help anyone succeed, but for community support workers it is particularly important. You may be dealing with a heavy caseload, so effective time management, clear note-taking, and a logical filing system are highly necessary. Being organized on the back end frees up your time so you can focus more on helping your clients. Excelling in organizing requires learning how to simplify a work environment, prioritize tasks, use good decision-making practices and keep a calendar of important events or projects.
Communication skills refer to both written and verbal correspondence with clients and other professionals. As a community support worker, you need outstanding communication skills to convey information to your clients as well as to your agency. You also need excellent listening skills to acquire all the information you need to complete your tasks. In any community support services role, effectively communicating helps a professional advocate appropriately, remain clear and concise, appear professional and avoid or overcome the crisis.
Ethics and Non-Judgmental
Community support workers must always think for the best interest of their clients regardless of their own personal beliefs. You must develop the skill and habit to suppress personal judgment when facing your clients. There are ethical guidelines that you must adhere to when servicing clients. Your clients expose their weakness in front you, and you have the responsibility to protect them. Community support workers must perform their duties according to the regulations set forth by the provincial and federal licensing board.
All positions under the scope of community support services require professionals to document findings of clients. Therefore, a successful community support worker needs to obtain the ability to compile, analyze, evaluate and report. In addition, documentation must be thorough, accurate and timely in order to benefit both the client and the agency offering services.
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