Providing care to clients raises many challenges for Support Workers and Carers. The role of the worker can mean that you are in many intimate situations with clients and their families and friends. You generally have access to private and confidential information. You may also encounter situations where you are confronted with needs, requests or demands for services and support that is not part of your role. Qualities of a good Support Worker/Carer are many and varied. Each one of us brings different strengths, values, beliefs, practical knowledge and skills to their role. It is essential to maintain the qualities below:

Ability to listen and be understanding.
Effective communication skills
Interest and passion in working with clients
Acceptance of people
Willingness to collaborate and consult with others
Ability to accept and respect the choices of other people
Be respectful to people who have different needs, values, beliefs and culture
Commitment to increasing independence and capability in others
Ability to share knowledge and skills where relevant
Have a positive attitude
Be aware of realistic goals and limitations – make sure you understand each person and their strengths, needs, goals and support needs
Be consistent
Be professional and caring


Confidentiality means that any information obtained or received by workers must be kept absolutely confidential, except with the written or verbal consent of the individual or their legal guardian. Workers must not discuss or disclose confidential information with anyone without this permission. It is expected that workers will sometimes need to discuss matters with co-workers and other service providers, however this should always be done in a respectful and appropriate manner in a private setting.


It is important to be clear about your role and your goals and objectives right from the beginning. Here are some guidelines:

Discuss your role with the client and/or legal guardian right from the beginning and be sure to set limits about inappropriate behavior (if relevant).
Review how you are going with maintaining these boundaries on a regular basis. Sometimes all this takes is personal reflection at the end of each day.
Keep your own family and personal life private and separate to your work – be careful about self-disclosure and providing too much personal information about yourself. Do not provide personal information about co-workers or other clients.
Ask for help when you need it – being a Carer or Support Worker can be isolating with high levels of independence and responsibility.
Discuss any concerns or worries about your own work with management.
You also have a responsibility to speak to someone about concerns with other workers.


Disclosing and discussing your own personal information with your clients or their family members, including personal, marital, and financial or any other problems.
Visiting or meeting clients outside of rostered shifts.
Inviting clients to your home or introducing clients to your family members or friends.
Staying for longer after your shift has finished.
Worrying about clients or contacting them when you are at home.
Feeling as if you are the only one that understands a particular client.
Accepting money or expensive gifts from clients or their family members.
Asking clients or their families for ‘favors’ in regards to shifts (for example asking to leave early).
Noticing feelings of friendship or sexual attraction toward clients or their family members.
Having clients or family members refer to you as ‘part of their family’.


Supporting and caring for individuals can be demanding and stressful at times, and you need to take care of yourself to prevent burn-out. Self-care is very important. Ways to take care of yourself may include:

Have a range of activities outside of your work that you enjoy (social, recreational or leisure). It is important to have a healthy work – life balance.
Plan for regular breaks and holidays away from work or even from particular clients. It is ok to ask for assistance.
Be aware of signs of tension and stress (both psychological and physical), and plan activities that will help you to relax.
Make sure you have someone you can trust to talk to. If you feel you need to speak with a Counsellor outside of work, the organization offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is confidential and provided by an external service.
Give yourself permission to have emotions and feelings and to be able to express them appropriately.
Take care of your general health and well-being. It is important to get sufficient sleep, eat healthy and have regular exercise and relaxation techniques.
Remember, you are human and sometimes life can become overwhelming. It is important to acknowledge when you are feeling this way.
Personal reflection – sit quietly for 10 – 30 minutes at the end of every day and ask yourself how you felt the day went. Are you happy with your day? What worked? If something didn’t go quite as planned, what could you have done differently? Most importantly, acknowledge the good work you had achieved for the day.