Care Worker

    If you are wondering how to become a care worker / assistant, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in social services, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Care assistants (sometimes known as care workers or social care workers) provide practical help with daily activities to people with a range of difficulties. They can work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities, older people or families.

    As a care assistant, you could work with clients in their own homes, in sheltered housing, in day centres or in residential settings such as nursing homes. Your work would vary depending on the type of setting, but could include:

    getting to know individual clients and being aware of their special interests and social needs
    supporting clients with daily personal care such as washing, dressing, using the toilet and feeding themselves
    carrying out general tasks such as housework, laundry and shopping
    helping clients organise paying bills, budgeting money and letter writing
    helping families and parents adjust to new caring responsibilities
    working with other health and social care professionals to deliver individual care and development plans
    being the ‘key worker’ to one or two residents in a residential setting
    helping to organise recreational activities
    escorting clients to and from the residential home (for example, young people attending a local college).
    You could also work as a ‘personal assistant’, which is a new role that involves working closely with one disabled person to support them in their day-to-day life.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good social care workers include:

    a friendly and caring approach, and the ability to relate to people from a wide variety of backgrounds
    tact and sensitivity
    a respectful approach to clients
    patience and a sense of humour
    reliability and flexibility
    the ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team
    knowledge of basic health, safety and hygiene standards
    the ability to remain calm under pressure.

    How to become a care worker
    You do not need any academic qualifications to start work as a care assistant. It would be useful if you have experience in a caring role, perhaps through volunteering or with your own family. Previous experience is likely to be essential if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.

    To find out about volunteering opportunities in your area, visit Volunteering England.

    You would have a medical check, and would also need CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) clearance to make sure that you are suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.

    If you work in the community you may find it helpful to have a driving licence because your clients may live in a number of different locations.

    You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

    Training and Development
    When you start work as a care assistant you will receive on-the-job training from your employer. You may also attend day-release courses.

    If you work in adult social care in England you will be expected to take part in a 12-week induction programme provided by your employer. This will be based on a set of six national minimum standards of care, which cover areas such as:

    principles of care
    understanding your role as a care worker
    communication skills
    recognising and responding to abuse and neglect
    developing as a care worker.
    If you work with children or support people with learning disabilities you will also have to meet additional standards. See the Skills for Care website for details.

    You will also receive training in areas such as hygiene, health and safety, and lifting techniques.

    You can work towards NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Health and Social Care.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries can be around £11,000 a year.
    With experience and qualifications this can rise to between £14,000 and £17,000.
    Senior care workers, or those in residential work can earn up to £21,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    You will find most work opportunities with social services, private organisations and voluntary agencies.

    With experience and qualifications you may be able to progress to a senior care assistant or managerial role.

    Useful social services resources:
    General Social Care Council
    2 Hay’s Lane
    SE1 2HB
    Tel: 020 7397 5800
    Registration helpline: 0845 070 0630

    This page is for social care worker careers advice and training opportunities.

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