A Day in the Life

Come and see what it’s all about. Join Claire on her day in the life as a Residential Support Worker.

You may be wondering exactly what is involved in being a Residential Support Worker. One of our team has recounted their experiences as an RSW to give you an idea of what to expect, including the rewards and challenges.

As an RSW, consistency will be evident in the organisation of the day. Timetables, boundaries, expectations; these things will be clear and reliable. Each day it is my role to provide the structure and repetition that are the safe foundations of a child’s day; a warm, clean home, comfortable clothing, breakfast, school, lunch, dinner, clubs, bath, time to talk, bedtime.

But…every single day I am also faced with new challenges. When a child is filled with anxiety about going into school it is my job to coax them out of bed and help them to remember their achievements and abilities. It is my job to keep the morning positive and change the way that the child feels about facing each new day.

We eat breakfast together and talk about what can be achieved today, I support the child to select clean clothes and help them style their hair, I make sure the child has their lunch and their book bag and a clean PE kit, I sing along to the car radio that plays music only a 13-year-old would like…too much bass and lyrics with no meaning, but for the child in the car the singing helps to lift their spirits and we both laugh when I don’t know the words!

In this short space of time, I have also collected photo frames from the garden after they were thrown out of a bedroom window, I have explained why false eyelashes are not appropriate for school and I have managed not to be drawn into an argument about why peanut butter is not a substitute for toothpaste. I have been told my hair is ugly and I have heard that I make the best pulled pork. I have discussed the difference between a weasel and an otter and I have been coaxed into deciding who would win a fight between Spiderman and Thor. I have explained why some TV shows are only shown after bedtime and I have made a mental note that I need to pick up extra bread. I have been told I know nothing. I have also heard please, thank you and I have heard a teenager use a young child’s voice when they asked who would be picking them up after school, and smile when I replied that it would be me. The smile was unexpected as I had been called a “total bum-head” only minutes before!

I am a Residential Support Worker. I am also a friend, a tutor, a therapist, a parent, and a security blanket. I am the sponge that soaks up the fear and squeezes it back out in manageable drips each and every day. I am the reassurance and the praise. As it is a school day, the rest of the RSW’s day is filled with housework, some paperwork, making a reward chart, preparing healthy snacks and organising dinner. The bedrooms are tidied, the washing is put away, family contacts are arranged and I still manage to find some time to research local swimming lessons for a child.

I chat with the rest of my team and we exchange stories and share advice. My own personal experience of residential support work for Compass is that there is nothing else quite like it. So when you take on the role of an RSW, you truly are a beginner every morning, but by the end of every day you will be a role model, a diplomat, a catalyst for change, and what other job can possibly offer you all of that?


I am also a friend, a tutor, a therapist, a parent, and a security blanket.

I am the sponge that soaks up the fear and squeezes it back out in manageable drips each and every day.