CHOOSING A CAREER / FEB. 08, 2015
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How to Become a Care Assistant in the UK

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Care assistants work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities or older people who have difficulties with carrying out daily activities. Basically, they aim to make a difference in their lives by making their day-to-day tasks easier and more enjoyable by providing personal care and carrying out general tasks to improve their surroundings.

What do Care Assistants do?

The duties of care assistants include:

  • Getting to know clients, their interests and needs
  • Helping clients with daily personal care including washing, dressing, using the toilet, feeding themselves
  • Carrying out general tasks such as housework, laundry and shopping
  • Helping clients manage their budget and pay bills
  • Working with other health and social care professionals to help clients
  • Helping families get used to new caring duties

Work Environment

Depending on the job, as a care assistant you will be working at your clients’ homes, sheltered housing accommodation, at day centres or nursing homes.  While most opportunities offer part-time work, your working hours will vary since some jobs may require that you work evenings, weekends or split shifts. In some cases, if you work at a residential location, you may be expected to stay overnight on a regular basis.

Salary

The national annual average salary for care assistants in UK according to the National Career Service is:

Starting Salary

£12,500-16,000

Experienced Care Assistants

£18,000-21,000

Although the starting salary reaches up to £16,000 per year, with the right set of qualifications and experience you could be earning up to £21,000. Also, the salary increases if you have extra responsibilities or if you work night shifts and weekends.  

Education and Training

As a starting point, an excellent way to become a care assistant is to do some volunteer work with an organisation that provides care to vulnerable people. If you are interested, you can search for available opportunities at Do-it and Volunteering England.

In terms of qualifications, there are a number of diplomas that allow you to exercise this profession. Depending on where you want to work, you can choose a subject that interests you the most by checking the list of available courses at Skills for Care. This website can also help you get more information about routes into this career.    

Ideally, here are some qualifications that can help you become a care assistant:

  • Level 1 NVQ Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care
  • Level 2 NVQ Supporting Individuals with Learning Disabilities
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Health and Social Care

Alternatively, you can become an apprentice if there are available apprenticeship schemes around your area and meet your needs. Visit GOV.UK to get more information about apprenticeships and on how to get started!

Lastly, since you will be closely working with children and vulnerable adults, you will need to present employers with a DBS background check that proves you are suitable to work by providing care to other human beings.   

Required Skills

These are the skills and qualities that constitute a competent care assistant:

  • A friendly and caring approach
  • A genuine desire to help people
  • Reliability and flexibility
  • Patience and a sense of humour
  • Ability to work to health and safety guidelines
  • Team working skills
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure

Career Development

As soon as you get your first job as a care assistant, you will receive training which involves working closely with other experienced care assistants.  Also, you will have the opportunity to attend courses on related subjects such as first aid, health and safety and food hygiene that will help you develop further professionally.  In terms of qualifications, in time you could move on to higher level qualifications such as a foundation degree, social work degree or Level 5 Diploma in Leadership in Health and Social Care.

Additionally, if you are interested in adult social care you should be aware that you will be expected to take part in a 12-week induction programme as soon as you start work. Likewise, if you are interested in working with children, you must first be qualified to a minimum level 3 Diploma in Working with Children and Young People or working towards getting the degree within the first 6 months of your employment.

Job Opportunities

The employers of care assistants include:

  • Local authority social services department
  • Private agencies that provide care services
  • Voluntary ogranisations

If you are passionate about helping children or other vulnerable individuals improve their quality of life, then perhaps being a care assistant is the right career for you. Get more information about being a care assistant and search for vacancies visiting Community Care and United Kingdom Homecare Association.  

 

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