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How to become a care worker

Are you a caring, sociable person, at your happiest when you’re looking after other people? Do you want the best for others, often putting their needs above your own? Do you want to make a real difference in this world and have a career that is truly rewarding? As our aging population continues to grow year on year, Care Workers are high in demand and this is only set to rise.

Sounds like the job for you? Let’s take a look at exactly what the role as a Care Worker entails.

What do Care Workers do?

As a Care Worker, you’ll be working with a mix of children, vulnerable adults and elderly individuals to provide support within their daily lives. You’ll be responsible for providing the best care possible to those who may need various levels of assistance in normal daily tasks.

Once you become a Care Worker, you’ll really start to see just how much of a lifeline you are, and how you’ll become the person they open up to above others. Therefore, you’ll need to be easy to communicate with and have a friendly, caring approach.

They’ll be very reliant upon you in tasks such as meal preparation, washing, cleaning, shopping and updating any relevant paperwork, such as monthly bills.

What would my starting salary likely be?

As a Care Worker, you can expect to start on around £12,000 – £16,000 per year, depending on location. Once you get more experience and qualifications under your belt, you may see your salary rise to £18,000 – £21,000 per year. In some cases, accommodation may be provided on the job and if you are working overtime, for example on evening or weekend work, you may find your rate is higher per hour.

Do I need any qualifications to start as a Care Worker?

In the majority of cases, there won’t be any requirements to have academic qualifications like GCSEs, A-Levels or degrees. However, most employers would prefer you to have some First Aid skills and an NVQ in Health and Social Care, Levels 2 and 3. These courses would prepare you to work in Adult Social Care, teaching you to support individuals with learning difficulties and awareness of dementia.

Care Workers often need to travel to many locations within the day, therefore you’ll also need an EU driving license.

Beyond these qualifications, experience is crucial; so getting some volunteer work will often pay off in the long run. You’ll have to also have background checks, such as a medical check and a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

As an alternative route into care working, some individuals train through an apprenticeship care scheme, where you’d train as a care assistant for around £6-7 per hour.

Once you begin life as a Care Worker, you’ll be provided with some training in food hygiene, health and safety. This will include elements of first aid and how to move people safely, particularly if working on your own.

You’ll also have to take part in a 12 week induction scheme, which will ensure that you meet the national minimum standards of care in the UK and covers elements such as equality, inclusion, safeguarding, health and safety and different aspects of support you may be expected to provide.

Some key skills you should have as a Care Worker include…

  • A passion to work in the care industry, helping people on a daily basis regardless of their background, age or the issues they face
  • A positive, enthusiastic attitude
  • Ability to approach sensitive situations with tact and confidentiality
  • Respectful of your clients homes, ways of living and requirements
  • Ability to use your own initiative and work as a team
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and act as per your training
  • Excellent understanding in health, safety and cleanliness

What are the daily tasks I’ll do?

Working with a mix of children, vulnerable adults and elderly individuals will mean no day is the same. You’ll need to ensure that you are capable of being flexible, and be ready for the unknown. Where you work will entirely depend on your employer. However, you could be in your client’s home, day centres, sheltered housing or nursing homes. Some of the tasks you’ll do are:

  • Travelling to client’s homes to carry out your Care Worker duties, during the day, evenings, weekends or potentially involving split shifts
  • Communicating with your clients on a daily basis, taking a real interest in their needs and getting them to open up on a more personal level
  • Carrying out personal care tasks for your client such as washing, dressing, feeding or helping them to the toilet
  • Doing chores for your client like washing clothes, doing the weekly shop, cleaning the house or making the bed
  • Assisting with paperwork, such as paying your client’s monthly bills and writing any correspondence that they are unable to do themselves
  • Chatting with relatives of your client to help them understand their condition and any progress reports
  • Working to support the care assistant, who made need guidance and assistance at times
  • Helping to arrange outings for your client and going on these days out with them

Can I progress from a Care Worker in the future?

Absolutely, there are many opportunities to develop on from a Care Worker in the future. Once you’ve gained enough experience in the field. Many Care Workers go into the local authority’s social service department, voluntary charity positions or the private sector where they offer care services.

Within these positions many move up to senior Care Workers, Shift Supervisors, Management or specialise in a specific field.

The benefits of being a Care Worker…

This career is very rewarding, offering a chance to really make a difference to people’s lives that really need the support. You won’t coop up in an office environment; instead, you’ll be able to travel to various places in the day and meet different people.

You’ll find that after a couple of months of working for specific clients that they become a lot more receptive to you. They’ll break down their barriers and want to chat more. This means your day will become much more enjoyable.

Every career has its downsides, for a Care Worker these include…

Well, you will have to face some quite challenging situations, which isn’t for the faint hearted. You need to prepare to deal with taking patients to the toilet, changing their clothes and ensuring they are washing properly.

Also, when you first start on a job you may find the individual doesn’t want you there. This can leave them hostile towards you at times, which is why you need to be strong and enthusiastic on every visit – it’s often nothing to do with you, so don’t take it personally!

Is this career really for me?

A successful Care Worker is one that is positive and willing to get stuck into everyday tasks. Being a Care Worker is a truly rewarding job that can lead into a long-term, stable career. A friendly, approachable, reliable and understanding approach that is non-judgmental will be crucial for you to succeed in this role.

Check out our list of Care Worker jobs, to help improve your understanding of the skills and qualifications needed.

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