What is a Care Worker and What Do They Do?
A care worker might be employed in a variety of different settings, such as residential homes for the vulnerable or the elderly, people’s homes, or within community settings. Care workers who operate within the community are sometimes known as domiciliary carers, and may spend time travelling between different settings.
As a care worker, you’d be supporting people with a wide range of activities, such as:
• Eating, drinking, washing, and dressing
• Attending appointments or running errands
• Shopping and managing a budget
• Monitoring health through basic checks, including temperature, pulse, weight, and respiration
• Managing and taking medication.
The work you find yourselves doing will vary greatly depending on the individual. Some people may be almost totally dependent on care workers for their needs, whereas others may simply need you to help them with the washing up, and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Care Worker?
Although you don’t always need qualifications to get started in care work, most employers will want to see some, such as GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C), or functional skills. This is because you may very well find yourself having to make quick calculations on the go if you’re helping people to shop or plan their budget, and you’ll also need good written communication in order to complete records.
Moving on, you’ll likely require a nationally recognised qualification such as the NCFE CACHE Level 2 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, which will require you to combine 30 hours of work experience with home study. On this level 2 course, you’ll gain essential knowledge such as human anatomy and physiology, safeguarding and protection legislation and procedures, and how to work within a health and social care team. After you’ve completed this course, you may well choose to proceed to further qualifications such as the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care, which will allow you to progress to leadership positions, boosting your salary and level of responsibility.
What Type of Person Would Suit Becoming a Care Worker?
There’s no doubt about it – a care work role requires a special type of person. Because the job can be challenging and sometimes frustrating, it’s totally unsuitable for those who are quick to lose their temper, and are prone to running out of patience.
Remember, you’ll be caring for some of society’s most vulnerable, and that requires a special set of characteristics, such as:
- A sense of humour. They say laughter is the best medicine, and as a care worker, you’ll find this to be especially true. You’ll likely be dealing with people who are suffering with serious health complaints, so a laugh and a joke goes a long way.
- Positivity. You may very well be the only person your client sees for days on end, and it’s therefore absolutely vital that you remain strong and upbeat. Your attitude could have a massive effect on their health and mood.
- Great communication. As a care worker, it’s really important that you’re able to maintain good records, and pass on important information to your colleagues about your clients’ health and wellbeing during your shift.
- Empathy. In order to care for your clients to the best of your abilities, it’s essential that you’re able to place yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if you faced their health struggles? What would help you to feel a little better?
- Patience. It’s last, but it’s definitely not least. The people you’re caring for may sometimes be frustrated, cross, upset, and unappreciative. Not to mention, you’ll sometimes be caring for individuals with psychological issues and dementia. Keeping a cool, calm demeanour at all times is essential.
How Much Do Care Workers Earn?
Care workers’ salaries can vary depending on how experienced they are, and what level of qualification they hold. However, in general, the average salary is between £16,000 and £18,000 per year, which is between £8.50 and £9.50 per hour. There are quite large regional differences in pay, however, with care workers in London and other large cities generally earning more. As you progress in your career, gain more qualifications, and take on more responsibility, your salary may well rise to over £26,000.
How much does a care worker earn?
Nevertheless, it can be quite difficult to gauge an average salary because most care homes are privately run, and therefore have the freedom to offer different rates of pay. NHS care homes, however, have to adhere to the same banding system as other sectors, and therefore their rates of pay are more predictable. If you end up working for a private care home, though, this can work to your advantage, as you’ll be able to negotiate your salary with your employer.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Care Worker?
We’ve heard a little about some of the struggles that working within the care industry can bring, but what are some of the main benefits? Let’s take a look:
- It’s flexible. If you’re not looking for a 9-5 job, then care work can be perfect. Flexible shift patterns mean you can fit your work about other life commitments, making it an especially suitable career for anyone raising young children.
- You’ll meet interesting people. Care work offers the opportunity to form deep and meaningful bonds with the people you’re looking after, many of whom will have lived long, interesting lives they’ll be eager to tell you about.
- Every day’s different. When it comes to careers, it’s become kind of a cliché to say that ‘no two days are the same’, however, in this profession, it really is a fact. You might be involved in a wide variety of activities and outings, and the wants and needs of the people you care for will also change regularly.
- There are great benefits. Not only will you get holiday pay and a pension, you’ll also have the opportunity to receive further training which will develop your career. Additionally, many care homes provide paid breaks, and free meals.
- It’s rewarding. We’ve touched on it already, but knowing you’re making a massive difference to the life of a vulnerable person is a feeling like no other. Even an act as simple as helping someone get washed and dressed or pop to the shops can have an impact that’s difficult to overestimate.
What Career Progression Can You Expect as a Care Worker?
Luckily, there are many different ways to progress once you embark on your caring career. You could make a sideways career move into a different occupational area that involves caring for people such as nursing, or more specialist medical avenues such as speech and language therapy. Additionally, you could move into a specialist area within the care profession, such as becoming a home care assistant, working within the community, or working for a nursing agency.
If you show dedication and passion for your job, then you might be asked if you’d like to train for a senior position, which would see you supervising other care staff. In order to achieve this role, you would likely need to complete further training and qualifications such as a Level 4 Diploma in Health and Social Care Management. Once you’re fully trained and occupationally competent, your salary will increase accordingly. Beyond that, there’s no reason you couldn’t progress to become a deputy service manager, a care home manager, or perhaps become a self-employed carer.
Additionally, you may well choose to gain experience and training which will allow you to specialise in particular areas, such as dementia care, stroke management, or supporting adults with learning disabilities.
Excited about the prospect of working in health and social care? Check out our huge range of courses, or give our friendly, experienced learning advisers a call on 0121 630 3000.