Support Worker to Service Manager

This month we talked to Salem Hunjo, to discuss his career at Active Prospects. Salem started as a Support Worker at Active Prospects 4 years ago and now manages one of our newest services.

Salem, tell us a bit more about your role as Service Manager?
Okay, well I now manage a service in Redhill, which is transforming care and we support people with various support needs – learning disability, mental health. It’s a supported living model, so people live in individual flats and our support is tailored to them. So, my responsibilities are managing the rota, getting all the things ready for the guys to be able to do their jobs, reviews, transitions for example. I’m also a PBS lead, so I look at things from a positive behaviour support point of view – that involves meeting with other professionals or parents and holding sessions with them to understand people we support from their childhood and look at that to know how best to support them now with the best plans. So, each day comes with its own challenges. Anything can happen. You could have one day, everyone is dancing, happy. The next minute it could be very different and we need to be understanding. We just get on with it. We don’t take anything personally. We just move on and focus solely on the people we support.

Incredible that you’re now a manager, but where did you start your career?
I started at Young Prospects as a Support Worker – that was my first care experience. After a year I became a Team Leader, then after being a Team Leader, after I think six or eight months, I became a Care Coordinator. I was then promoted again to Assistant Manager at and helped with moving people we support into their new homes. After a while, I became Service Manager. So within 4 years, I have progressed through the different roles.

In terms of your career progression, what do you think massively helped you along the way?
So, it’s a mixture of everything really. First, I think Active Prospects is amazing. They are so people-focused and want to develop people career-wise, as long as a person has their head in the right place, everyone has that potential to grow. I had Chris Lloyd as a manager and he has been amazing at coaching me and pushed me too.

Personally, I just love people. I love to see the changes, but it hasn’t been easy. My first day at Young Prospects was hard, but a big turning point for me was Tony*. From day one when Tony* came to Young Prospects, I was there with him, and he hadn’t had a shower for three months and was living in a van – his first day at Young Prospects, I was able to give him a shower and that did it for me. Seeing him happy and comfortable did it for me – I wanted to work in care.

Have you always been offered training as and when you’ve needed it?
Yes, always been offered great opportunities and training. I went on the PBS course which was around 6 months and that gave me so much more knowledge.

You’re such a passionate guy and you clearly love working in care, but what is it that you really love about your job?
Every day is different. I like being busy, maybe that is why I have loved this service in Redhill – it is very busy! You can’t predict what’s going to happen in the next few minutes, that’s just what I love really. And, seeing people being able to achieve something, it’s amazing! Supporting people to have that freedom, that independence, it’s really, really incredible.

What would you say to anyone who is starting a career in care? Looking back at your career, would you give any advice?
Sure. First of all, just make sure you are a people person – that you’ve got the interests of people at heart. And for me, that’s where person-centred support comes in. And, just be calm, update yourself with policies and procedures and see how you can apply them in practice, not just reading and knowing. It’s actually about how you can use them in practice.

And, finally… the last few months have been tough for everyone. How have you and your team found it?
All of the team have been so good – everyone works so hard. We have made changes to suit people more and to help with the team wellbeing. So, we have introduced long days and having breaks in between. So, if I were supporting someone in the morning, I’ll have a break from that person and go to someone else. Also, the team get more days off, which helps.

Active Prospects release their Wellbeing Report
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