If you’d rather set fire to your head than consider being a care assistant as a career, let’s bust open some myths. Perhaps you’ve read about those evil care homes that are cruel to their residents. Perhaps you believe that care assistant work is hard, it’s badly paid and you’re treated like a doormat. Perhaps you believe the work is drudgery and thankless. Perhaps you think a care assistant job is only a stepping stone to get somewhere else quickly.
But if you reframe your ideas about this profession (and yes, it is a profession), you’ll soon see how it’s one of the very few jobs where you can make a big difference to someone’s life every single day. It’s work, yes, but it’s hugely rewarding.
Care work is predominantly about caring for others. It’s about using everything you have – your skills, your knowledge, your personality, your awareness and your attitude – to create the best possible outcome for a vulnerable person. Maya Angelou understood it when she said:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Making people who are vulnerable feel dignified, human and heard might be the most important thing that any human can do for anyone else – and it takes a very special person to do this. Everyday dignity is not an everyday talent.
Here’s why you should consider care assistant work:
Because the work is varied, so too are the skills required. In the UK, there are over 50 qualifications at different levels in social care alone. Apprenticeships are available for people of all ages, not just the young folk. And of course there are standards in fire safety, food handling, moving and lifting to take on board.
Care work is a profession. It has tight quality standards, requires a range of skills and expertise and there’s a dizzying choice of career paths: specialist care, technology, locality management, inspection, all the way up to senior leadership. When people need extra help, they call for a care worker. It’s a bit like being society’s Batman and Wonderwoman.
Care work is hugely varied. You may be working in someone’s home, in a hospital or hospice or elsewhere in the community. You might want to specialise in elder care, or in working with children and young people, or with people with mental health conditions or physical disabilities. Care workers start as young as 16 all the way up to 65 and even beyond.
It’s a diverse and dedicated workforce that’s open to all.
The demand for care assistants is huge and is only going to increase as the population ages. In the UK, a third of local government expenditure goes towards social care, and there’s a shortfall in the number of care assistants available. You’ll never be short of work.
You don’t need qualifications to enter into the care assistant profession – but you do need the right values and personality. Once you’re in, you can skill up. So if you think you need a certificate to get in, think again. You can start today.