- 25 November 2020
- 7 min read
The Care Assistant Salary & Pay GuideSubscribe To Advice
With Care Assistant & Carer pay currently at the forefront of the national narrative, we outline current pay rates, career progression options and what the future holds for Care Assistant pay.
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Care Assistants (not to be confused with Healthcare Assistants, who normally work in hospitals) play an essential role in helping the vulnerable to live as joyfully and independently as possible.
They generally work in residential care homes but can also work in people’s homes.
It’s challenging and rewarding work, and positions are abundant across the UK with an ageing population increasing the demand for care services.
But how is this demand for Care Assistants reflected in pay?
How is pay calculated?
And what does the future hold for Care Assistant salaries?
What Is The Average Salary For A Care Assistant?
The average salary for a Care Assistant is between £16,000 and £18,000 a year, according to the latest industry statistics.
The average hourly rate is approximately between £8.50 and £9.50.There are quite large regional differences in pay, with Care Assistants in and around London, for example, typically earning more.
Entry level positions pay a salary of around £15,000 or £16,000 a year, while at the top end, the most Senior Care Assistants can earn around £30,000 a year, but more commonly earn something closer to £25,000 a year.
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What Does A Care Assistant Do To Earn This Salary?
Care Assistants work within the community, in a person’s home or a residential care home.
They normally support adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health conditions or older people.
Daily duties vary greatly, but can include:
• Assistance with washing and dressing
• Making food and eating assistance
• Getting to know the people you’re working with to personalise your care
• Monitoring health and any illnesses
• Checking that medications are being taken
• Helping to conduct various activities
• Co-ordinating events and outings
What’s The Difference Between A Care Assistant And A Carer?
You’ll find that the job titles Care Assistant and Carer are used interchangeably; Care Worker is also often used.
For all intents and purposes, there is no difference between these roles.
Different employers and agencies simply use different labels – and the duties you carry out are exactly the same.
Equally, there seems to be no real difference in the average earnings of care assistants and carers.
So, when you’re looking for roles, it’s always worth looking not just for ‘Care Assistant’ positions, but also for ‘Carer’, ‘Care Worker’ or others.
For more information on the different care roles, read Claire’s article here.
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Do Care Assistants Work In The NHS Or Privately, And How Much Does Pay Vary?
84% of care home beds are operated privately, so the vast majority of Care Assistants work in the private sector.
Pay in the private sector is unregulated, so all benchmarks are approximate and salaries vary from one provider to the next.
In the NHS, all staff are paid within a transparent banding system.
Care Assistants typically earn a Band 2 salary, which equates to a starting wage of £18,546 a year currently.
How Do You Become A Care Assistant?
You don’t necessarily need any formal qualifications to become a Care Assistant.
Some providers may ask for GCSE A-Cs in English and maths, but it isn’t always essential.
Many Care Assistants enter the workforce with a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care, and some organisations will demand this.
However, many will also be happy for you to acquire these qualifications while working.
In terms of skills, the key personality trait you’ll need is compassion.
You’ll need lots of patience and resilience, and a real love for helping people.
What Can A Care Assistant Do To Earn More Money?
Earning more money as a Care Assistant comes down to building your qualifications and experience.
Gaining a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health Social Care will definitely improve your employability.
Furthermore, the more experience you have, the more desirable you will become to employers.
Better still, gaining experience at different care facilities will boost your CV and help you to earn a higher salary.Beyond this, boosting your earnings will come from further developing your skills and qualifications, so that you can apply for more senior and specialist positions.
It’s also important to remember that privately run care facilities have flexibility over the salaries they offer – and that means that you can negotiate your rate.
What Is The Career Progression For A Care Assistant?
Being a Care Assistant offers a great platform for career progression.
One option is to seek out training in specialist areas while you’re working, such as autism or dementia.
This could help you to move into a more senior role like a Lead Care Worker.
You could also continue to develop your formal care qualifications.
If, for example, you can work your way up to a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management, you may be able to become a team leader or even a Home Manager.
It’s also very common for Care Assistants to study part-time courses in order to become nurses, social workers or support workers.
What Does The Future Hold For Care Assistant Pay?
Many experts, campaigners and politicians have suggested that pay for care workers is a long way below where it should be, considering how important and demanding the work is.
This consensus has only grown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, the Labour Party is now insisting on a pay rise for care workers for ‘Covid sacrifices’.
The problem is that, with the vast majority of care homes operated privately, implementing pay rises across the board is a huge challenge.
That’s why key advisory groups are now pressing the government to implement a pay and rewards structure that’s on par with the NHS.
These recommendations include making this system mandatory for all care home providers.
Whether these recommendations will be taken on board is uncertain, as is when they might come into force.
But increasingly, it is hard to imagine that some improvements to care worker pay aren’t made in the very near future.
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