It might be intense but it’s also rewarding says specialist care support worker Kerrie Nevin.
“There is nowhere quite like ASC in Scotland at the moment,” says Kerrie Nevin of her employer ASC. “It is literally the only unit of its kind.”
ASC is an advanced specialist care unit based in Balbeggie, Perthshire where Kerrie, 34, is a Senior Support Worker. Every day she works with people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Her job itself is one of the most challenging care roles out there, but she believes it can also be one of the most rewarding.
“Here the care provided is less clinical and focused on enabling individuals to live as independently as possible,” said Kerrie of ASC, which consists of three purpose-built units, a converted hotel and – a few miles away in Coupar Angus – specialist bungalows “Beyond ASC, the closest option is a hospital environment. Many of our residents have had to travel from all over Scotland to come to our unit.”
Kerrie, who is originally from Livingston, works with another Senior Support Worker and a team of Support Workers within the bungalows looking after four residents, but each is allocated key residents to support. “Our Seniors are responsible for medications, care plans, risk assessments, reviews and multi-disciplinary meetings.”
A passionate advocate of the care provided at ASC, Kerrie joined the team in 2011 when the unit first opened. Having studied Behavioural Sciences and working a positive behavioural support unit supported by the Tizard Centre in London, Kerrie discovered her love for working with people with challenging behaviour.
At the moment, Kerrie works in one of the unit’s bungalows where she provides one-to-one care for a resident there along with another support worker. “It’s more intensive and so rewarding. The gentleman I look after at the moment – I can’t even express the difference in him since he moved in here. When he first arrived, he couldn’t communicate at all, but now he communicates by touching the right and left side of neck for ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”
Since having her own family, her experience working with children with special needs has helped her better understand the needs of one of her sons who has autism. “I have a child with special needs and I’m aware that he may need a unit like ASC at some point in his future. It makes me see things differently – through a parent’s eyes as well as the eyes of the care professional. We might be looking after a 24 year old man, but that’s someone’s child, someone’s son.”
ASC, part of care home operator Balhousie Care Group, is currently on a recruitment drive, with plans to introduce a shuttle bus from Dundee to help people find employment in a more rural location. Kerrie’s advice to anyone considering joining ASC is to really understand the environment before applying. “At ASC, you need to be able to hit the ground running, understand why people are there and the scenarios you’re going to face. It can be physically and emotionally challenging, but you are also working in an incredibly positive environment where you can make a real difference to a person’s day-to-day life.”