With life expectancy in the UK increasing in recent years, the number of elderly people who require care and assistance is growing. As well as this, medical advances have meant that disabled young people are living longer, and so an increase in health and social care support is also needed for them. Below are the top five career options for those looking to enter the social care sector.
1. Care Worker
When most people consider a career in social care, the role of a care worker is usually their first choice. The role of a care worker includes supporting people with all aspects of their lives, including social and physical activities, personal care, mobility and meal times.
In order to be considered for this role, key skills such as English, number, digital, team working and problem-solving skills are required. As well as this, being able to work independently, excellent communication and listening skills, an understanding of policy and procedure and writing skills are also necessary. No official qualifications are necessary for the role, which means that it’s an easily accessible career choice. A Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care may be helpful, but full training is provided for those in a care worker role.
2. Personal Assistant
A personal assistant role is different from a care worker role in that you are employed directly by a vulnerable individual who pays privately for their own care. This support may be provided in their own home or within the community. Although very similar to a care worker, a personal assistant may also be required to help individuals’ book and attend appointments, gain employment or get into college or university, monitoring health, or managing a team of personal assistants if you’re in a senior role.
As above, no official qualifications, other than basic numeracy and literacy skills are required, but a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social care may be beneficial.
3. Advocacy Worker
An advocacy worker supports vulnerable people, including those with learning disabilities or physical disabilities. You will secure the rights of those vulnerable individuals, making sure that their voices are heard. You may assist in issues involving housing, medical decisions, care planning, disability living allowance, hospital admissions and financial planning. An advocacy worker may be employed by a larger organisation such as a charity, or as an independent advocate associated with a local authority.
If this is your first role in advocacy, the Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy will provide you with the background to begin your career. Once in a role, the Level 3 qualification is essential, and most people complete it whilst ‘on the job’ with employer support. Previous experience in care work may also be useful, whether through volunteering, your personal life, or a job role.
4. Occupational Therapist
A role in occupational therapy involves working with people with mental, physical or social disabilities in their day-to-day lives. This social care career involves elements of rehabilitation work. This could be through supporting someone with their mobility, or adjusting to mobility loss, or helping to ensure that their housing is adequately equipped for their needs, whether this is with specialist equipment or ease of access.
Once again, basic literacy and numeracy skills are essential for this social care role, with the addition of excellent communication, planning and organisational skills also necessary. You will also need a degree in occupational therapy that’s been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and be registered with the HCPC. Experience working in a social care or health care role, for example in a care home or residential care service is also desirable.
Although nursing isn’t strictly a social care career, your role will likely include aspects of the above positions, as well as some more technical clinical and healthcare tasks. It is possible to specialise your career, with many qualified nurses working in adult social care positions. There are three key sectors within adult social care; community psychiatric nursing, acute, general or elderly nursing, and learning disability nursing. All of these roles can be found in a nursing home or community settings, as they are applicable for both older people and young people.
All practising nurses in the UK are required to have a degree in nursing and be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Entry requirements vary depending on the university, but three A-Levels in relevant subjects are required, as well as five GCSEs, including English, maths and science. As with the above positions, work or volunteer experience is also desirable.
Each of these social care roles supports people by providing social services to those in need. Although all part of the social care sector, each role provides a unique and individual service for those in need. Each position involves working directly with individuals, assessing and ensuring their needs are met. The social care career path is incredibly fulfilling, as you have the potential to be a positive presence in the life of someone who may struggle without your support.
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