Care work: ‘It’s better to have the will than the skill’
PUBLISHED: 14:06 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 24 July 2017
Looking for a new career direction? Are you empathetic and caring? If so, then adult social care could be the just the job.
With demand for adult social care increasing across East Anglia, many in the sector want to raise the profile of working in care and encourage it to be seen as a genuine career option.
One of the most appealing aspects is that you do not need previous experience or qualifications when you start out. The top requirement on the job spec is the right mind-set – empathy and a caring nature are essential, the rest can be taught.
Caroline Baines, operations director at New Boundaries, which specialises in residential support for service users with complex learning disability needs, says that the most important aspect of their recruitment process is a profiling exercise to understand an applicant’s values and beliefs.
“It’s certainly the case that it’s better to have the will than the skill,” she says. “We can give the skill, but it’s the will to do it.”
Caroline adds that different care settings offer different challenges, for example, working with people with complex learning disability needs is very different from caring for the elderly.
“Within our aspect of care it’s more about supporting service users to be the best they possibly can be. Some of our residents go to college or have volunteer roles, so it’s a very varied job to support them in their choices.
“It’s also a difficult area because many think that people with learning disabilities need to be treated like children, which isn’t the case. They often don’t understand the consequences of their actions and what is acceptable in society, and that’s where positive behavioural support comes in to understand why an individual exhibits challenging behaviour, and how to address the issues that trigger the behaviour.
“If you’re enthusiastic there’s so much you can do and it’s very rewarding.”
If you think a job in adult social care could be for you, it’s a good idea to understand the roles and potential career development. The following roles can be applied to most adult social care settings, whether it’s working with young adults or centenarians.
Care/Support workers – these are the frontline staff. Duties vary depending on the needs of the individual’s they are responsible for. They support overall comfort and wellbeing, promote independence and help people to live as independently as possible.
There are no specific minimum qualifications, although you will require an enhanced DBS check and will undertake an induction programme with your employer to achieve the Care Certificate.
Skills such as empathy, team working, communication, English, problem-solving and time management are required.
Senior care/support workers – essentially the same as care workers, but with additional front line supervision, training and monitoring of care workers and care assistants. They may also have further responsibility such as infection lead, medication management or end-of-life support.
Applicants would need a background in social care, and may have achieved their Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care.
Personal assistant – working directly with one or more individuals to support them in every aspect of their daily lives. They are usually employed by the person who needs care and support.
Management – within social care there are opportunities to progress into management roles, from supervisors, team leaders, managers, senior managers to registered managers. These roles require a Level 3 to 5 qualification (or working towards Level 5) as well as knowledge and experience in the sector.
Working in social care also offers a “stepping stone” to progress and train as a registered nurse, social worker, occupational therapist, paramedic, equipment technician, safeguarding and reviewing officers to name a few.