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Support worker performs lifesaving first aid

A banker turned support worker from Gloucester has saved the life of someone she supports by performing an abdominal thrust while at work.

Angela Burrows works for national charity Hft at a service in Stonehouse, where she supports people with learning disabilities to live independently. The 57 year old was at work late last year when she noticed that someone who lives at the service was choking while eating dinner. Realising that he needed assistance, Angela acted quickly and performed an abdominal thrust. When this didn’t work, she performed two further thrusts which eventually dislodged the food and ensured the individual’s wellbeing.

Other staff members present during the incident were impressed with Angela’s quick thinking and her ability to stay calm under pressure, and have since nominated her for the charity’s staff rewards scheme.

Despite her first class first aid, Angela has only worked in social care for around 15 months, after three decades climbing the corporate ladder in the IT and banking industry, which saw her working in Switzerland and London. Seeking a change of pace and a role where she could make a difference to the lives of others, Angela now spends her days supporting adults with learning disabilities in all areas of their lives. She has even recently been promoted to senior support worker at the specialist service, which is designed to meet the needs of people on the dementia pathway or receiving end of life care, and was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2018.

Support worker - Angela Burrows

Angela Burrows said: “When I noticed the person I was supporting struggling, it was just instinct to take action. My first aid training from when I first started at Hft came flooding back and I didn’t have time to hesitate – if I hadn’t done something the consequences could have been grim.

“Since becoming a support worker in 2018, I haven’t looked back. You never look at the clock in this job. After working in banking for over 30 years, I was happy to make the switch into a role where every day is different. There are some surprising similarities between my old and new roles, including problem solving and juggling priorities, although I now support people rather than software! If you’re thinking of becoming a support worker, all you need is a positive attitude – it doesn’t matter what career path you’ve taken before.”

Janet Humphry, Regional Manager at Hft, said: “Support workers are the bedrock of care, and people like Angela exemplify why this role is so crucial to ensuring people with learning disabilities are able to live the best life possible. When her first aid training was put to the test, Angela displayed qualities we strive to find in all our support workers, including compassion, skill and bravery. We hope that anyone considering support work is inspired by Angela’s story, which highlights that there is no set path to this important and valued profession.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country. This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work, and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

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