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Hannah Whittaker, Support Worker, DE Healthcare

Thrown in at the Deep End

Hannah Whittaker, Support Worker, DE Healthcare

At 16 years of age, Hannah successfully applied for an apprenticeship in Health and Social Care with DE Healthcare, a provider of Supported Living, Residential and Day Opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and autism in Staffordshire.

“I remember talking with one of clients while waiting to be interviewed, I had tears rolling down my face thinking, I have to work here.  I instantly fell in love with it,” recalls Hannah

Hannah was supporting a young lady with autism and complex epilepsy and so received training in the management of seizures. Less than a week later, Hannah and another colleague found themselves in a life threatening situation during the lady’s weekly swimming session.

“I remember her diving under the water as normal but not coming to the surface, I knew instantly something was wrong,” says Hannah

“I managed to turn her over, making sure her face was out of the water and shouted for the life guard. I didn’t even think about it at the time, my training all just fell into place.

“I knew I should only move her during a seizure if she was at risk, so the other member of staff helped me support her to the lifeguard at the side of the pool.  Together we got her on to the poolside where we could manage her seizure safely.”

“I had no idea if she had swallowed any water so it was quite worrying until she was given the all clear by medical professionals. It was only after that the magnitude of what might have happened hit me.

“The experience made me realise that things can happen anytime, and in any place, so I became more risk aware when supporting her with other activities. It’s one of those things that I will always remember and was a huge learning curve for me.”

When asked how she manages challenging days, Hannah says,

“I always try and take something from any bad day and think, well that’s done now, what can I do to prevent it in the future? It may be something I need to change in myself, the way I work, how I say things or the way I approach an individual.”

Hannah is an extremely positive person with a natural aptitude to supporting people with learning disabilities, always placing the people she supports at the centre of everything she does, promoting their independence, choice and inclusion. Hannah demonstrates a tremendous work ethic, thirst for knowledge and a maturity far beyond her age. This commitment resulted in her reaching the regional finals of this year’s Great British Care Awards for Care Newcomer.

“My friends say to me, ‘Hannah, I don’t know how you do your job’,

“I say ‘What do you mean? I have a great day every day.’

“I think in any job you have has down days, but even on those days you only have to think you’ve helped make someone’s day the best it can be and it puts a smile on your face.”

When asked what she would say to any young person considering a career in Health and Social Care, Hannah responds,

“I’d say if you are a caring person then there’s no reason for you not to be in this job. You’re improving peoples’ lives every day. How can you not love that?”

Hannah is a fantastic role model for any young person wanting to work within the care sector and has a very bright future ahead of her, we’re very lucky to have her.

Hannah’s Top Tips for any young person working in care;

  1. Never be afraid of getting involved, don’t sit back.
  2. If you are unsure of anything, ask questions.
  3. Make sure you reflect on any negative or challenging experiences and learn from them.
  4. Don’t be afraid to share ideas with your colleagues.
  5. Enjoy it, if you’re happy within yourself it reflects on the people you support.

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