The life of a care worker
In this article Sarah Kean-Price, who is, amongst other things, also a care worker, explains what it is she loves about care worker jobs, and how she got in to the profession.
25th July 2012
Care worker jobs are a great choice of work career. I fell into my care worker role purely by accident – I mentioned to someone that I wanted to 'help people' but didn't know what to do and she suggested what turned out to be both my first care worker job and subsequent first promotion.
This kind of work is absolutely brilliant for those of us who are conscientious, love to talk to people, want to see them do their best and are looking for something a bit different from the office slog. It is also usually pays more than minimum wage (despite being an entry level position), has flexible shift patterns, room for progression, qualification opportunities and you can make lots of money if you're willing and able to put the hours in.
There are a mass of environments for care workers which all adds to the flexibility and interest of this role. To learn more about exactly what a care worker job involves and how to prepare yourself for one, read more below!
What kinds of care worker jobs are there?
The many possibilities can be divided into two categories; variety of environment and variety of specialism.
Care workers might work in a residential care home or nursing home, where the residents live permanently or over an extended period of rehabilitation; under a sheltered living scheme or supported living scheme where they live in their own homes, strongly supported by an organisation in order to live as independently as possible; or as a domiciliary care worker, who goes to visit people in their own homes to help with things like food preparation, getting up and going to bed and bathing. You also might find yourself working in a school or college, day care centre, rehabilitation centre or even a hospital.
The type of environment is then affected by who you work with. Support organisations tend to focus on one particular issue to tailor their provision more effectively. Other care worker jobs could be with the elderly or children, physical disabilities, students with educational difficulties or behavioural issues, the homeless and vulnerably housed, those recovering from addiction or individuals with mental health issues, autistic spectrum disorders or learning difficulties.
How do I get a care worker job?
When I took my first job in 2003, you could largely walk into support jobs without experience and still get more than minimum wage. The job market is a little pickier now and I've certainly noticed that there are now (sadly) jobs at minimum wage too.
However, you are still not expected to have specific qualifications. Anyone can be a care worker, provided you have the right attitude. It's mostly about providing support with life skills which, if you live independently, you already have! Indeed, at my first role, most of the seniors had little to no GCSEs – your progression is based on your care provision.
If you want to bolster your CV before getting a support job, get some volunteering in the area you are most interested in. Support work really suffers from high turnover as a lot of people just aren't prepared for the unusual demands of support work. Between juggling anti-social hours, persuading fed-up service users to just wash up that last mug whilst keeping them (and yourself!) smiling and still projecting a very responsible and appropriate attitude, many people find they can't hack it. A bit of experience beforehand will strengthen your case for being the best person for the job!
If you want, you could also take an NVQ in Care or Health and Social Care. Often, jobs will pay for you to undertake this.
If this all sounds like the kind of work you want, start having a look in our database now to get a feel for the work out there. There's a wealth of opportunity and you are bound to find something appealing!