what does a support worker do?

As a support worker, you offer various support services, including healthcare services to assist people with mental health and physical conditions. For instance, you could provide care to individuals and their families with disabilities, illnesses, abuse and addictions. Some patients may also suffer from medical conditions that make it impossible for them to live independently. Your job involves handling patients of various ages, from young children to adults and the elderly. That means you will interact with people from diverse cultural, social and economic backgrounds.

what does a support worker do?

If working one-on-one with clients is your style, you should become a support worker. Working in this capacity involves cleaning your client's house, laundry, and shopping for groceries. Sometimes, tasks such as helping your client take a bath may be applied. However, home health providers do not groom clients. Some in-home positions have their own specific duties, especially if you are hired directly by the client.

As a support worker, your services can be temporary or long-term for clients with severe conditions. Clients may also need support for aged care in their homes, community housing or accommodation centres. Hence, it would help if you were prepared to handle multiple tasks daily.

support worker roles available

average salary of a support worker

The average salary of a support worker in New Zealand is $52,400 per year. Starting with minimal skills and experience, your earnings begin at $22 per hour. However, as you increase your skills and experience levels, you can reach up to $30 per hour.

The role comes with various allowances, including car and house allowances. You can increase your remuneration with overtime pay or taking up additional roles.

factors that affect support workers' pay

Several factors affect how much money you make as a support worker. Naturally, the average annual gross earnings reflect wages for full-time work, and you would earn less as a part-time employee. Additionally, large cities provide better-paying positions due to the high demand for support workers.

Your area of specialisation also affects your remuneration package. For instance, if you provide care to patients with disabilities, you are likely to earn more due to the complexity of your role. Taking care of patients with chronic illnesses also improves your salary prospects. If you assist patients with dementia, your expertise commands a higher remuneration package.

Female and male with glasses, standing outside on a balcony, talking
Female and male with glasses, standing outside on a balcony, talking

types of support workers

Some of the types of support workers include:

  • Disability support worker: as a disability support worker, you assist people living with disabilities in performing their daily tasks. For instance, you help them with personal grooming and daily chores to help them live independently. Sometimes, the role involves caring for people with mental health problems and helping them with personal care.
  • Aged support worker: as a senior support worker, you care for older people in care homes, hospitals or private homes. Some of your duties include assisting with personal care like helping them eat, dress or shower. You also handle domestic chores like cleaning and preparing meals. If the person under your supervision has an illness, you assist them in managing their condition by administering medication.
  • Home-based support workers: as a home care worker, you provide support and care for people who are too frail or sick. The care is home-based, and you may need to reside in the patient's home to provide round care protection.
  • Community support worker: as a community support worker, you support patients in a community setting. Your role involves caring for children and adults with disabilities or challenging living situations.
  • Clinical support worker: You assist patients in clinical or medical settings as a clinical support worker. You help them use the bathroom, change the hospital garbs and take medicine.
  • Mental health support worker: a mental health support worker is a professional who assists and supports people with mental health conditions. As a mental health support worker, you work with individuals and families to help them cope with mental illness and improve their quality of life.

working as a support worker

Working as a support worker involves caring for frail people or living with disabilities. It is a hands-on role, and sometimes you have to provide round-the-clock care to the patients.

Here are the specific tasks and work environment of support workers.


education and skills

Support workers don't need specific educational qualifications, but they can help you formalise your expertise and give you more job opportunities.

While you gain experience with an employer, you can work towards achieving different certification levels. The certifications increase your chances of employment since they equip you with the skills necessary for caring for patients. You can also complete a bachelor's degree in psychology or social work for complex roles.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a support worker include:

  • Computer competency: You use a computer to perform various tasks as a support worker. For instance, you need to write reports and monitor patients' progress using specific software to record and store information. You can also use it to schedule patient activities and help them develop a routine.
  • Communication skills: as a support worker, you must be an excellent communicator to connect with your clients and build relationships. It also helps you communicate with your patient's family and other careers.
  • Empathy: the role requires compassion and kindness to connect with your clients. You need to empathise with their condition and understand their emotions.
  • Time management: as a support worker, you need to be a good time manager to keep up with the patients' routines. If you plan the day to include recreational activities and exercises, the patients will likely recover faster.

FAQs about working as a support worker

Here are the most asked questions about working as a support worker:

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