The Top 10 Skills and Qualities Needed For Care Sector Workers to Succeed
Thinking about making a move into the care sector? The importance of the work they do shouldn’t be underestimated, with this year’s Carers Week focusing on the huge impact those in the sector have on the lives of so many.
But what makes a great care worker? Well, you may already possess some of these key attributes without even realising it. Perhaps you’ve had a previous career that has honed them, or you’re just naturally suited to a career in this field.
1. Emotional Intelligence
Topping our list of essential carer skills is emotional intelligence. It’s becoming increasingly important in lots of sectors, as it allows people to react calmly and rationally to others’ emotions.
As a carer, you’ll be looking after people who may be going through a hard and frustrating period. Practising emotional intelligence keeps the situation peaceful.
Some people may find it easier to tap into their emotional intelligence – also known as “EQ” – but it’s a skill that anyone can develop.
One way that you can develop it is by trying the practice of active listening. Asking questions, repeating back paraphrased summaries of the subject, and ensuring that you dedicate your full attention to the conversation are all vital components.
2. Organisational Skills
One of the most important qualities of a care worker is organisation. It’s essential when recording important information about patients, and when sticking to schedules so that every patient is seen at the right time.
Again, this is something that might come naturally to you – or it might take a bit of practice.
If you’re switching to caring from another career path, it’s likely you’ve already had to demonstrate your organisational skills in some way – perhaps you were meeting deadlines or scheduling appointments. You can easily bring these skills into a role within the care sector to succeed.
Communication comes in pretty high when it comes to answering the question ‘what makes a good carer?’.
You’ll likely have to explain some fairly difficult and emotional topics to patients, for which you’ll need to stay level-headed and always be clear.
It’s also probable that you’ll sometimes be the first line of medical care – so you need to be able to pick up key signs of a patient trying to communicate an urgent issue to you.
Communication is vital to many careers, from management roles to reception duties, so if you’re switching sectors you might well have plenty of useful experience already.
When you work around people, things can change – fast.
Whether it’s a last-minute patient added to your roster or adapting to your patient’s specific needs, flexibility is key.
Those who are coming from fast-paced roles may already be well-developed in this skill area. If you’re rigid when it comes to sticking to plans, it might be time to reassess how you react to sudden changes and hiccups. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and be ready to go with the flow!
Being empathetic means that you’ll be able to identify with your patients’ needs and will always need to see things from their perspective.
Some may be in tough situations and request something that isn’t in your power to grant. If you can put yourself in their shoes and empathise, you’re much more likely to respond with kindness.
One of the best ways to build your empathy skills is to face challenging and varied situations, in which you meet people experiencing life in a different way to you. Caring for others will most likely make you more empathetic, even if you had high levels of empathy to start with.
6. Observational Skills
Has someone taken the wrong amount of medication? Does something not feel right?
Catching details with observational skills can be key when you’re a carer.
Watch out for body language, focus fully on the situation at hand, and above all, take things slowly. If you rush to judgement you might well miss crucial clues to your patient’s wellbeing.
You might be faced with tough decisions as a carer, so being able to make decisions quickly and confidently is crucial.
Believing in your skills means that you will likely make better decisions and as a bonus will inspire more confidence. Of course, you must have the knowledge to back these decisions up before you make them, but if you’re expected to act independently, be ready to think on your feet to take the right course of action.
8. First Aid & Medical Skills
Although you’ll be fully trained in this area before you start your job, it’s vital that you understand the importance of this skill. These of course are of paramount importance as a carer, and what you’re most likely to be lacking.
You’ll come across a range of illnesses and a variety of patient needs, so you need to be equipped.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthcare courses that can prepare you for life as a carer. You can also learn the basics before you begin, and then take more advanced courses as you progress through your career.
Though flexibility is essential, the ability to plan is also a key care worker skill.
You’ll likely be dealing with a variety of patients, all with different needs and different levels of support.
Planning out your time means that you’ll be able to foresee any potential for issues down the line, take steps to prevent them from occurring, and be prepared if they do arise.
The ability to stay positive in the face of any situation is a key component in what makes a good carer.
Maybe you’ll brighten someone’s day with a joke or two, or your kind smile will reassure patients and their families that things are under control.
Not only does it make your patients’ lives better, but staying positive means that you’ll find it much easier to deal with the trials of the job if they arise.