Working as a carer is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. While it certainly can be tough, and the rate of pay may not match up to many other jobs, carers are able to see the impact of their work on a daily basis, with the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with making a difference more than outweighing the potential downsides.
Social care can be a highly competitive industry, with lots of people going for the best jobs. Given this, it pays to stand out from the crowd, with vocational qualifications, as well as relevant work experience the best way of achieving this.
Most local colleges will offer an NVQ in social care, and many will provide on-the-job experience alongside classroom training. Alternatively, you may want to do a NCFE in social care or community care. This type of course is designed to give newcomers to this line of work a wide range of skills, allowing them to find work in hospitals, care homes, old people's homes and working directly with clients in their own homes.
However, academic qualifications alone are not enough to get started, and then progress, in this career. Carers need to possess a wide range of soft skills and personal attributes, in particular excellent interpersonal skills, a patient and empathetic nature, the ability to work as part of a team and good organisational skills as you will often be responsible for several clients.
Note that before you get started in this career, you will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) test. This used to be known as the CRB test and is designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of clients.
A quick overview of the job
As the name suggests, carers provide either full time or occasional care for those that need it. You could be working with children, with the elderly, with people with physical disabilities or those with learning difficulties.
The exact responsibilities of the job will, of course, depend on the needs of the client. As a rule, however, carers may be tasked with assisting their clients with everyday tasks such as shopping, cooking and cleaning, or with more personal tasks like helping them wash or feed themselves.
As a carer, you may also need to liaise with a client's family and friends and with their GP or other healthcare professionals, and may be tasked with drawing up a specific care plan based on an individual's exact needs.
Undoubtedly, the work can be mentally, emotionally and sometimes even physically challenging, plus the hours may be antisocial. That said, for those who are happiest when they are looking after others and who want to make a real difference through their work, pursuing a career as a carer is highly rewarding.
The benefits of working as a carer
Alongside the sense of satisfaction that comes with the job, working as a carer has other benefits. For example, this kind of job can often be ideal if you need to fit work around family life or other responsibilities.
Agencies usually offer a wide range of shift patterns, making it easy to find work to fit around the school day, for instance, plus casual carers may be able to work as little or as often as they want.
Additionally, while the pay does certainly tend to be low, especially given the challenges of the role, overnight shifts can pay considerably more. Plus, carers employed in homes or by local authorities are well-placed to further their career, earning more money as they take on more responsibilities.
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