Coleen In The Community

Coleen In The Community

by Robert Veitch

Robert Veitch finds out what a day in the life of a support worker is really like as he has a chat with Coleen from the Joint Community Rehabilitation Service

Coleen currently works for the Joint Community Rehabilitation Service, sometimes referred to as JCR. The service, provided jointly by East Sussex County Council and the NHS, is a short-term re-ablement service designed with the aim of reducing dependency and promoting independence. The service is available to clients for up to six weeks and most often clients regain their independence in less time than this.

A normal day for most support workers consists of a series of appointments with different clients over the course of a six-hour shift, starting either at 7am or 4pm.

Clients are enrolled on to this free service via referrals from a hospital or their GP. Clients might have suffered a stroke, had a hip replacement, be recovering from pneumonia, amongst many other types of referral. Each care package is tailored to suit the specific needs of the individual.

Some people need help to get dressed, to brush teeth or to shave. Others need help going to the toilet, changing a stoma or catheter. Coleen pointed out, “It’s often simple everyday things like washing your feet when you struggle to reach them, or putting on a bra. Things the rest of us do without much thought.”

Coleen was keen to point out that being a rehabilitation scheme, the aim is to get clients back to a state of independent living, to a state where they are able to do these tasks on their own. “We help people develop new ways to deal with simple everyday tasks that appear to have become so much harder. This can involve using a grab-stick to get a pair of trousers on or helping someone get used to Velcro-fastened slip-on shoes rather than laced shoes. If I’m helping a client get dressed, my aim is to encourage them to become better able to dress themselves, day by day.”

Talking to Coleen it’s easy to realise this is not an easy job, but it is one that comes with a sense of worth and a palpable sense of reward witnessing clients become rehabilitated day by day. “It’s lovely to see first hand the empowerment and new found confidence as people learn to cope and improve their own situation. It’s a wonderful feeling of success. Knowing help is available is the security blanket some clients need to generate their own confidence to move forward. We all need a reason to get up in the morning, there’s no life at all if we don’t have a reason.”

From time to time, Coleen bumps into former clients and she beamed as she told me, “That always brings a smile to my face and brightens my day.”

If you think you could help someone regain their independence then you could become a support worker with the Joint Community Rehabilitation team.

For more information or to apply visit