Health & Social Care
Career insights: Become a Care Worker
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Care Worker explained
If you are looking for a career that will challenge your mind and help you feel fulfilled, look no further than care work. Helping people who need your assistance can be a rewarding and interesting experience. This career allows you to earn a living while also knowing you are making a big difference in the life of a vulnerable person.
What is a Care Worker?
A care worker is a trained professional who supports other people in all aspects of their daily life, including preparing and eating meals, socialising, physical activities, medical support, and toileting support. Some care workers work in care homes, and others are employed on a contract basis in patient’s homes. Domiciliary carers travel to different people’s homes in the community.
Support workers can also help provide help, advice and support to patients and clients about life skills (including cooking and budgeting) and can help to give emotional support in times of need.
Shared lives care workers will actually live in the same residence as their patients. Sometimes they welcome others into their own home, but they usually live with individuals in their homes. Sometimes this is on a short-term basis (to offer evening or weekend respite care for full time carers), or it can be to help during the day or night.
What does a Care Worker do?
On a day to day basis, a care worker provides support to people who need care. This helps them to improve their lives by helping them with their specific needs and daily tasks. You might end up working with the elderly, people with disabilities, those with learning disabilities, or children.
Your key duties will often include:
- Arranging meetings with clients and their families to determine their needs and develop a care plan for moving forward
- Helping clients with their personal care needs, including assisting them with eating, washing, dressing, toileting, and medications
- Helping clients with their shopping and getting them to GP appointments, as well as other errands and tasks
- Giving emotional support to your clients and their family members
- Making sure that your client is comfortable, happy and well-cared for at all times
What skills does a Care Worker need?
In order to be a successful care worker, you need to have a desire to help people and a great deal of patience. In order to communicate effectively with your clients, you need to utilise strong communication skills. It is also important to always be sensitive, tactful and respectful at all times, no matter how frustrated you feel.
Other key skills and attributes include:
- Having a friendly nature, good sense of humour, and approachable demeanor
- The ability to build strong relationships with clients and their families, and build a sense of trust
- Nearly limitless patience
- Sensitivity towards potentially embarrassing medical conditions
- A sense of calm, especially when under pressure, as some clients can be anxious, nervous and even aggressive
- Strong problem solving skills
What qualifications do you need to be a Care Worker?
While you can start in the role of a care worker without any formal qualifications, it is always a good idea to have official qualifications. Previous voluntary work with patients in a care home setting is also a good idea.
You do not need any GCSEs, A-Levels or degrees. That said, you should acquire First Aid skills, and it is recommended to have an NVQ in Health and Social Care, Levels 2 and 3 or a level 3 diploma in adult care. These courses are advantageous for working in Adult Social Care, as they will teach you how to best support people who have learning difficulties, or older adults with dementia.
After you start as a care worker in any capacity, you need to engage in a 12-week induction scheme. This makes sure that you meet minimum UK standards of care. These standards include safeguarding, equality, inclusion, health and safety.
How much does a Care Worker earn?
When you start working as a care worker, you will likely start earning between £12,000 – £16,000 per year. Part of this variation will depend on your specific location in the country. Once you gain more experience and acquire more qualifications, you can expect that your salary will rise to between £18,000 – £21,000 per annum. This can increase even further if you take a supervisory role.
In some of your contracts, accommodation and some meals will be included. You can also earn even more money by working overtime (on weekends, holidays and evenings).
How to become a Care Worker
Once you have decided that a career as a care worker is right for you, you need to start taking a number of steps to achieve this goal. These six steps will help you start heading in the right direction and gaining the qualifications you need. Start working on them one by one and you will soon be working as a professional and skilled care worker.
- Think about if this career is for you
Start by determining if providing care to vulnerable people is a career path that you want to follow. While being a care worker can be very rewarding and fulfilling, it is not a suitable job for everyone. You need patience, compassion, and the ability to put others’ needs above your own. Does this sound like a good fit?
- Check you have the skills
Next, you need to establish whether or not you have the skills to succeed in a career as a care worker. You need first aid training, excellent communication skills, strong organisational abilities, and an NVQ in Health and Social Care, Levels 2 and 3. If you do not possess these skills, you will need to commit to obtaining them
- Consider specialisations
You now need to decide if there are any specialisations you would like to obtain, or specific groups of people you wish to work with. This can include working with disabled children, the elderly, or terminally ill patients. Do you need any additional qualifications to work with these groups?
- Find a course
Find and enrol in a series of courses that will help you on your path to becoming a qualified care worker. In addition to obtaining an NVQ in Health and Social Care, you could also take courses in End of Life Care, Positive Dementia Care, or Social Care with Families, to name a few options.
- Find a position
Once you have achieved the level of qualifications needed to work with the group you choose, you need to find a job. As a care worker, you can operate as a freelancer on a contract to contract basis, or you can work with an agency that will help you find placements in patients’ homes. You can also work at a care home or other similar facility on a contract or permanent basis.
- Build your reputation
Work on building a strong reputation for excellence in the care industry. Be sure to obtain written referrals and letters of recommendations from patients in your care. If you plan to work on a freelance basis, remember that word of mouth is your biggest asset. You can advertise online to find work, and utilise your networks to gain new opportunities as your career progresses.
Career progression opportunities
As a care worker, you will be competing with many other qualified carers for valuable placements and contracts. As a result, it is always a good idea to continue with your professional development and engage in lifelong learning.
Once you have worked in the industry and built your network of contacts, you can start to apply for more highly paid positions, including working a supervisor of other care workers. You can also specialise in caring for people with specific issues and maladies, something that will make you more in demand.
Why should you do an NCC course?
Now that you can see just how important training and courses are in helping you advance your career as a care worker, you can consider enrolling in some additional training. NCC offers a whole host of courses suitable for those looking for a career in care. Have a look at these options:
- Adult Care Diploma Level 3
- Adult Care Diploma Level 2
- Positive Dementia Care
- End of Life Care
- Mental and Social Care Level 4
- Health and Social Care Level 4
- Social Care with Families Level 4
As you can see from the information above, a career in care work can be both emotionally and financially rewarding. Remember – your care work training is never really complete. It is always a good idea to keep up to date with new courses in order to remain at the forefront of your industry.