As a care assistant, care worker or social care worker, you would provide practical help with daily activities to people with a range of difficulties. You could work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities, older people or families.
You could work with clients in their own homes, in sheltered housing, day centres or in residential settings such as nursing homes. Your exact duties may vary depending on the type of setting, but could include:
You could also work as a 'personal assistant', which involves working closely with one disabled person to support them in their day-to-day life.
Your working hours are likely to include weekends. In residential settings, you would usually cover a rota that involves occasional overnight stays, and in some jobs you may need to live in. Part-time hours are frequently available.
Your employer will usually provide you with protective clothing such as gloves and tabards.
If you work in the community you may need to travel between clients' homes.
Starting salaries can be between around £12,000 and £16,000 a year. With experience, qualifications and extra responsibilities or specialist support worker skills this may rise to between £18,000 and £21,000.
In some cases, free or subsidised accommodation is provided. Night shifts and weekend working may attract an higher hourly rate.
It would be useful to have experience in a caring role, perhaps through volunteering or with your own family. Previous experience is likely to be essential if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.
You can find out about volunteering opportunities in your area through the Volunteering England website.
When you apply for a job, you would have a medical check and you would also needCriminal Records Bureau (CRB)to make sure that you are suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.
To work in the community, some employers will expect you to have a driving licence because you are likely to have clients in a number of different locations.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Once you start work as a care assistant you will receive on-the-job training from your employer, which will often include working closely with experienced colleagues. You may also attend external courses on issues surrounding hygiene, health and safety, and lifting techniques.
If you work in adult social care in England you will be expected to take part in a 12-week induction programme provided by your employer. This will be based on a set of national minimum standards of care, which cover areas such as:
1. Principles of care.
2. Understanding your role as a care worker.
4. Communication skills.
5. Recognising and responding to abuse and neglect.
6. Developing as a care worker.
If you work with children or support people with learning disabilities you will also have to meet additional standards.
You may also be encouraged to work towards NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Health and Social Care.
As an ambulance technician you would respond to accident and emergency calls, as well as a range of planned and unplanned non-emergency cases. You would usually work in a team, providing support to a paramedic during the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients at the scene of an incident and during hospital transfers.
You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.
A care assistant needs:
You could progress to a senior care assistant or supervisor job. With experience and qualifications in care, you may be able to move into social work or nursing.
You could work with local authority social services departments, private agencies providing care services, or voluntary organisations.
Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)
Skills for Care (England),
Albion Court, 5 Albion Place, Leeds LS1 6JL
Tel: 0113 245 1716
Care Council for Wales (CCW)
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.