10 family support worker skills to include in your CV

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Family support workers lead challenging careers and often rely on hard and soft skills to effectively care for their assigned cases. Some of these skills may relate to violence prevention, coaching, child care, emergency care or even intercultural communication. If you're a prospective or established family support worker, you can improve the effectiveness of your services by understanding relevant skill sets and practising them in the field. In this article, we explore the responsibilities and common job skills of family support workers, explain how to improve these skills and look at how to highlight them in job applications.

Related: Different types of social workers and their primary duties

What are a family support worker's responsibilities?

Family support workers provide practical and emotional support to families in need. Government agencies and non-profit organisations hire family support workers. The families under a support worker's care might be experiencing financial hardship, emotional duress, domestic abuse or a combination of factors that negatively impact the members, especially children. A support worker's tasks may include:

  • helping with personal hygiene

  • preparing meals for patients

  • caring for children and infants

  • providing simple emotional support

  • administering emergency first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Related: How to become a support worker: a step-by-step guide

10 examples of common family support worker skills

Below is a list of ten examples of family support worker skills that you can use in your CV:

1. Assessing needs

As a family support worker in a sector such as mental health or social care, it may be necessary to assess patients' needs. Social workers typically review and determine family cases before assigning/referring a support worker. Support workers, nevertheless, contribute to care plans by offering feedback, monitoring progress and noting setbacks. Ultimately, support workers encourage patients to live as independently as possible, thus tailoring services to fit the circumstances.

Related: What is support work? Types, environment, duties and salary

2. Offering physical care

Support workers provide for their patients' physical needs in several ways. They may assist patients undergoing therapy for specific illnesses or injuries, move patients who are otherwise incapable of moving themselves or administer prescriptions. Support workers may develop their physical care skills by completing an accredited training course in health care or earning a college degree relevant to physical therapy. Popular courses include integrated health care practice or health support services.

3. Creating health assessments

Support workers may work in a team alongside other providers to implement health assessment tools and techniques. Health care assessments may involve complex scenarios and require knowledge of specialised operations, such as data collection, medical technology, communication and personal awareness. As a family support worker or aspiring applicant, you may begin your training by taking classes or interning. Ultimately, your employer might expect you to understand your patients' visual-motor and movement capacities, coordination skills, emotional health or communication problems.

4. Promoting personal development

Support workers may promote personal development by providing families with resources, practice opportunities, mentoring and constructive feedback. In some situations, support workers join families when their primary breadwinner has experienced prolonged unemployment and requires career guidance. In such cases, support workers help individuals return to school, prepare for interviews or search for job postings. Another method of facilitating personal development involves a detached scenario in which the support worker contributes to self-directed learning without becoming directly involved.

5. Providing educational support

Family support workers also assist with educational challenges related to special needs. Government agencies and non-profits that hire support workers might encourage or even insist that you acquire educational support skills and stay up to date with new education methods. Sometimes, you might create specific educational goals for your patients, such as programme milestones, test scores or entrance exams. For example, your employer might assign you to an individual with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and expect you to apply organisational skills to develop goals that involve focusing on specific educational tasks over a year.

6. Culinary skills

Many support workers live with families struggling to balance work demands with domestic tasks like cleaning and cooking. Support workers often benefit from knowing how to prepare nutritious, healthy meals for families. You may consider in-person or online cooking classes to develop your culinary skills. You may also research the nutritional requirements of your specific patients as individuals with conditions like gastroenteritis, lactose intolerance and Crohn's disease need special diets.

7. Administering first aid

Family support workers sometimes find themselves in emergencies. It may be necessary to administer CPR on an unconscious person and treat body injuries like cuts and bruises. You may also need skills to address specific cases, such as asthmatic attacks, mental health crises or diabetes complications. Support workers may acquire medical skills by attending CPR or emergency medical technician (EMT) courses, enrolling in periodic first-aid seminars or even earning a degree related to nursing and physical care.

8. Treating chronic illnesses

Support workers may also benefit from training related to the treatment of chronic illnesses. Some families who request assistance from government entities or non-profits have a child or adult with an illness the family cannot treat on their own. As a support worker, you may employ techniques for helping people cope in emotionally or physically painful situations or assist with treatments for pain and anxiety management and stress relief. Physicians and nurses might include you in health plans and expect your assistance with regular follow-up visits and progress reports.

9. Communicating effectively

Effective communication may be one of the most valuable and relevant soft skills for support workers. Interpersonal communication skills help support workers connect with patients from different backgrounds by determining the best communication methods, such as written, verbal or visual. Although communication may seem like an essential skill, it takes practice and experience, especially when dealing with families facing hardship or those who may not desire social services in the first place. To develop communication skills, support workers may enrol in courses for enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication.

10. Organisation and time management

Management skills are helpful for specific patients and your work schedule. Support workers often handle several patients throughout each day, so prioritising tasks helps you be efficient. Some support workers learn how to calendar events using physical and online planners, learn techniques from more experienced workers or utilise time management software programmes.

Related: How much does a support worker make? Plus duties and skills

Improving family support worker skills

Given the challenges of their duties, family support workers usually learn communication skills and basic medical care early in their careers. They might, for example, attend college or a vocational school to learn social work and first aid. At the same time, support workers learn specific skills like cooking, child care and emotional counselling from universities or company-sponsored programmes. Experience and mentorship often teach support workers soft skills. For example, a positive and empathetic attitude, teamwork and networking, organisational behaviour and problem-solving.

Family support worker tips in the workplace

If you are planning on becoming a family support worker or want to become more effective in your current position, the following tips may assist you:

Specialise

Consider specialising in one or two fields. Support workers may develop their knowledge of psychology, sociology, human services or social work, depending on the particular kind of work they hope to pursue. Within these fields, you might gain practical training in speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, mental health coaching or childhood development.

Review your options

Explore your job opportunities early and try to reach out to more experienced support workers for mentorship. Researching job opportunities might help you to understand your passion and capabilities better. You might, for example, find yourself more emotionally equipped to provide physical care than to support mental health.

Related: Top support worker skills

Seek professional development

Embrace opportunities for job-specific training, including courses and internships. Some courses, for example, allow support workers to experience classroom learning, field training and work placements. Work placements help support workers to transition from an academic environment to real-life scenarios. Training may also benefit you throughout your career, so consider participating in seminars or training sessions, reading relevant literature or acquiring different certifications.

Related: How to become a family mediator (plus duties, skills and FAQs)

Highlighting family support worker skills

Try to emphasise relevant social work skills on your CV and briefly list them in your cover letter. Take a look at the duties and responsibilities mentioned in job postings. Employers want to know how your skills match their requirements, so write your letter and CV as if answering their specific questions. Emphasise concrete examples of your skills, academic training, certifications and in-field practice.

Your job interview might offer the perfect opportunity to demonstrate soft skills like communication and patience. Therefore, allow your prospective employer to get to know you during this initial conversation. Demonstrate your confidence and empathy while discussing practical matters like work history and education.

Related:

  • How To Write a Support Worker Cover Letter (With Examples)


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