With more people seeking care and assistance in the UK than ever before, Care Workers are always in high demand.
In fact, over 1.6m people work in the adult social care industry in the UK – and it’s projected that number could increase by more than 40% by 2035*.
There are many different jobs in the care industry, including disability, elderly, mental health, rehabilitation and home care assistance, to name a few. But how do you know what role is right for you – and what skills do you need to be successful?
Whether you’re thinking about becoming a Care Worker, or you’re an employer or family member looking for the right person, here’s our list of the top 10 qualities of a successful Care Worker.
While Care Workers usually have a team leader or house manager to report to, the role of attending to a person’s needs is largely independent.
You’ll often need to assess situations and make decisions by yourself, so it’s important to feel confident doing this.
If you’re new to care work, this will come with time, but if you have the ability to think ahead and plan your own tasks without being told what to do, then this places you in good stead for a rewarding career in this sector.
Alongside independence is your ability to be flexible.
Tasks don’t always go to plan and when this happens, it’s your job to decide the best way to move forward. Being flexible in your approach to dealing with situations will be hugely beneficial — not only to you but, vitally, to your patient.
Like with any job, it’s up to you to take pride in your role and uphold your professional responsibilities.
The National Association of Care and Support Workers promotes care and support work as a profession — one that is a career of choice with a defined career path and specialisms that should be rewarded accordingly.
If you’re committed to providing the highest standards of care, not to mention professional ethics, you’ll be an extremely valued member of the team.
One of the key qualities for any Care Worker is being respectful to your clients. At all times.
Every Care Worker should recognise that each client is an individual with their own needs and requirements. If you can help those in your care to feel relaxed, happy and comfortable, this will go a long way to building a rapport and creating a connection.
5. Compassion and Empathy
To be compassionate means to feel strongly for the emotions of another person (both good and bad), which, naturally, is a vital quality for working in social care.
To be empathetic takes this further, and means that you do not only understand a person’s feelings but also relate and completely put yourself in their shoes.
For example, a client may find out that their family member is coming to visit. Not only can you feel their joy, but if you imagine how you would feel if you were in their situation, this will reflect in your response and the client will feel you’re genuine.
Having a happy persona when working in a care environment is much like customer service.
We’re all human, so, of course, you won’t feel chirpy every day, but if you can put a smile on your face, have a positive tone of voice and connect with the clients in an authentic manner, it’ll be appreciated by everyone around you.
Different sectors in this industry bring unique challenges to a Care Worker’s role, but a key quality that will always have its place is patience. It’s needed for an abundance of situations, all day, every day.
There could be delays in conversations when you’re asking for information or a task that should take 10 minutes might be taking triple that time. It doesn’t matter — put your patience into practice and make sure your client knows that they don’t need to rush.
Some of the difficulties you may face in care work can include high-pressure and unpredictable shift work, long hours, challenging behaviour from clients and stress from juggling multiple tasks.
Without high resilience, you’re more likely to feel burned out and mistakes are more likely to happen, which can be detrimental to the provision of care services.
This quality is usually easy to spot and makes a big difference in how a Care Worker approaches their role.
Why do you want to be a Care Worker? What about the position appeals to you?
There’s no one right reason, but if your answer includes some of the above qualities, chances are you’re well suited to the role.
Although formal qualifications are not essential to become a Care Worker, they do help with the job.
Upon starting their employment, Care Workers may be required to undertake the Care Certificate, which is an agreed set of standards that set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of a Care Worker.
This is not a mandatory requirement, but the Care Quality Commission will expect that appropriate staff who are new to services will achieve the competencies required as part of their induction.
Care workers also need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which provides them with a certificate to say that they are suitable for the organisation and the type of work.
*Information courtesy of ’The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, 2018’
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