Support workers: their role and tasks: A scoping review

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Increasing numbers of people are employed as ‘support workers’ where their role is to help people with disabilities and others to become more independent and join in with aspects of everyday life. Although this sort of help is widely reported to be valued by service users, very little is currently known about the role and how and why people become support workers and their long‐term employment plans. This makes it very difficult to plan for the expansion of the workforce and to develop effective recruitment and retention strategies. This study provides a picture of current knowledge about support workers in adult social care based on a review of the literature in the field published in the UK since 2003. Given the generic and imprecise nature of support working as a category, the study first aims to isolate those characteristics that go towards defining the role and it
reports on research that details the tasks involved in this kind of work. Following
this, we discuss the role’s overlap with that of other workers and an assessment of the training, career pathway and pay issues as they arise in the literature.
Examinations of both worker and service user satisfaction are considered next,
recommendations taken from the studies involved in the review are outlined, and
finally suggestions are made as to where gaps exist in current research that might be usefully filled.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSocial Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London
Commissioning bodyDHSC Department of Health and Social Care
Number of pages48
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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