Starting a career in health and social care

Jobs within the health and social care sector are interesting and varied, but they all have one thing in common; the aim is to support people’s physical and mental health, and to help them to lead purposeful and fulfilling lives. And if you’re thinking of embarking on a career in this sector, you needn’t be worried about a recession, either – the social care sector alone employs 1.48 million people, and is likely to have half a million extra jobs available by 2030. So, what kind of jobs might you do? Well, we’ve compiled this handy career guide to explain.


What does a reflexologist do?

You might think that reflexology is simply prodding and poking feet, but you’d be wrong! Originating in China around 5,000 years ago, this ancient practice is rooted in the belief that areas of the hands and feet are connected to other bodily systems. Therefore, when certain areas are stimulated, it can help to relieve and prevent symptoms that occur in the ‘linked’ part of the body. For instance, the big toe is said to be connected to the head and neck, and reflexologists believe that massaging it can help alleviate or prevent a headache.

Like acupuncture, reflexology is considered ‘complementary healthcare’, as it is not provided in normal medical settings, though it is accepted by the NHS as a viable holistic therapy. There are plenty of reasons that someone might seek out a reflexologist, and complementary healthcare can often be very beneficial for patients with no further conventional treatment options. Reflexologists often work for themselves and might visit hospices and care homes as well as make house calls to clients. They might also work in an office alongside other complementary healthcare practitioners, in a fitness centre, or at a spa.

So, what does a reflexologist do during a typical appointment? Well, when they see a client for the first time, they might make some notes about their general health, explain treatment options, examine their hands and feet, and perform a treatment. Afterwards, they might log details of the visit on a record card, and explain to the client some techniques they can do by themselves at home.

How can I become a reflexologist? 

You don’t need a licence to become a reflexologist in the UK, and it isn’t a regulated career. Nevertheless, clients want to see a practitioner who holds a respected and thorough qualification. Some budding reflexologists choose to train by completing a degree in holistic and complementary medicine. However, if you’d rather study in your own time and at your own pace, you could opt for a distance learning qualification such as our Reflexology Diploma. All that is required to start this qualification is a reasonable level of English reading and writing ability, and the course teaches you everything you need to know to begin working with clients. You’ll study the fascinating history of reflexology, its guiding principles, step-by-step treatments, and much more. Importantly, you’ll also discover how to set up your own business and begin turning a profit.

After you’ve completed your studies, you’ll be ready to start working with clients. To begin with, most self-employed reflexologists earn around £13,000 per year, though your pay could increase to around £25,000 as you build up your client base and promote your business. Many reflexologists also choose to learn other holistic therapies to their repertoire and bring in additional income, such as mindfulness. And speaking of mindfulness…

Mindfulness coach

What does a mindfulness coach do? 

Let’s start with a definition of mindfulness. In a nutshell, mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment in time, without worrying about or being distracted by other thoughts and sensations. It’s about experiencing everything and paying deep attention to the world, and experiencing complete peace. A mindfulness coach will work alongside clients who might be suffering from issues such as depression and anxiety, or even physical issues such as insomnia and high blood pressure. They would teach the client how to apply the principles of mindfulness meditation in their everyday lives, and to stay focused. Whilst mindfulness isn’t a quick fix for any problem, with time and patience, it can greatly improve a client’s outlook and quality of life.

How can I become a mindfulness practitioner?

Budding mindfulness coaches will find a large number of courses available to them online, however, it’s best to choose a level three qualification so that you can be sure you’ll gain the appropriate breadth of knowledge to teach clients. You’ll also want to choose a course that will allow you to gain registration with a professional body such as the ACCPH (Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists). Our Mindfulness Level 3 course ticks both of those boxes, with the added benefit of allowing you to study in your own time, at your own pace, and with the guidance of a personal tutor. Once you qualify, you might choose to set up your own business, work in a healthcare setting, or alongside other health and wellness professionals. How much you earn will vary depending on the number of hours you put in and what area of the country you live in, however, when you first qualify, you might be earning around £20,000 per year.

Healthcare assistant 

What does a healthcare assistant do?

It’s not easy, but the job of a healthcare assistant is an incredibly important one. They normally work either in a hospital or a GPs surgery, and their tasks will mostly involve taking care of patients’ needs. For inpatients, healthcare assistants will ensure they’re comfortable, washed, dressed, and clean. They might also perform minor medical procedures, such as checking a patient’s temperature and pulse. Healthcare assistants who work in a GPs surgery might have slightly different duties, including sterilising equipment, taking blood samples, and performing health checks. Although this career is incredibly rewarding and job satisfaction is high, it can be quite physically demanding due to the fact that you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. Aside from stamina, which qualities will you need to do this job? Well, if you’re kind, patient, caring, and you can have a sense of humour when things get tough, chances are you’ll be great in this role.

How can I become a healthcare assistant? 

Although you can apply for a job as a healthcare assistant without any qualifications, you’re far more likely to land the position you’re after if you already have a respected, regulated qualification, such as our NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Health and Social Care. You’ll learn about the stages of human growth and development and the care that’s needed along the way, gain an understanding of safeguarding, sector legislation and codes of practice, and much more. Basically, this course is a shortcut, meaning you’ll very likely have to complete less training once you’re working, and you’ll be able to progress more quickly.

Once you’re established in your role as a healthcare assistant, if you enjoy working in a medical setting, you could begin further training to become a senior healthcare assistant, or to undertake nurse apprenticeships or nurse associate training. You might also decide to train as a paramedic, pharmacist, or specialise in other aspects of medicine. Working as a healthcare assistant can open the door to a whole host of other professions that it would otherwise be difficult to gain an insight into. According to the NHS, the average healthcare assistant is paid around £17,000 per year. However, there’s huge potential to earn more as you undertake further training and qualifications.

Adult care worker

What does an adult care worker do?

Care work gets a bad rap, but it can actually be incredibly personally fulfilling. Think about it: who’s more important, the CEO reading sales reports all day, or the person who makes sure everyone in the care home is washed, clean, and happy? Plus, a care worker’s job is varied and interesting. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll typically be assisting clients with activities such as bathing, dressing, and other tasks that help them to live a fulfilling, independent life. Importantly, you might also be making sure that clients take their medication, and that their living environment is hygienic and safe. You could be helping them pay bills, make meals, or do their shopping. As you can imagine, this provides you with an opportunity to bond and form real friendships with the people you work with, though this can prove difficult when the person you care for is struggling or suffering. Because of this, care work is best suited to people who are quite mentally strong, and able to cope with difficult situations. Lots of people in the UK require the services of a care support worker, including those with dementia, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, and the elderly.

How can I become an adult care worker? 

If you struggle with academic qualifications, then don’t worry – for care work, you’ll generally only need two or fewer GCSEs at grades three to one. Because you’ll be working with vulnerable people, you’ll need to have an enhanced DBS check prior to starting work. It’ll also be helpful to have a driving licence, as you could well be driving between clients’ houses. To get started, you can apply directly to become a care worker, or you can volunteer at a residential facility or with an organisation that provides in-home care. Because health and social care is a very competitive industry, it can really help to gain respected qualifications whilst you work or volunteer. Our Introduction to Social Care and Introduction to Social Care Level 2 courses are an excellent start for you to begin getting to grips with the basics. You’ll learn exactly what it is to be a carer, what skills are involved, and essential topics like health and safety. After this, you could move on to an accredited qualification such as our NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Dementia Care. Taking a qualification in a specific area such as this is a great way to progress in the care industry, as you can show employers that you have specialist skills and knowledge. You could also move on to more advanced qualifications such as our NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Adult Care, which will allow you to apply for Senior Care Support Worker roles, and will also increase your salary. Ultimately, if you continue to climb the career ladder, you might choose to undertake level five qualifications and move into management roles. In short, how much you progress will depend on how much you’re willing to learn. Pay within the care industry is incredibly varied depending on your location and experience, but you might expect to start on around £13,000, which might climb to around £25,000.

So, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys helping others, and you’d like a job in which you spend a great deal of time interacting with clients, then a job in health and social care could be ideal for you. Remember, though, before you start training, it can be a great idea to get some work experience first, just so you know that you’ll enjoy the role and the working environment. If you think you’d like to work within this area but you’re just not sure what job would suit you, give us a call, we’re great with suggestions!

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