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Working in adult social care

If you want a career where you can progress, and get an enormous sense of personal achievement from knowing you are helping other people, then adult social care may be for you.

What does the Adult Social Care service do?

If you want a career where you can progress, and get an enormous sense of personal achievement from knowing you are helping other people, then adult social care may be for you.

With a steady demand for workers, plenty of opportunities for progression and a job in which 96% of workers said they feel their work makes a difference, adult social care has lots to offer.

Working in social care is about providing personal and practical support to help people live their lives. It’s about supporting them to maintain their independence, dignity, and control. Because of the increasing number of disabled younger adults living longer and the growing number of older people needing care, adult social care is growing and the sector needs at least another 1 million workers nationally by 2025.

You don’t necessarily need any qualifications or previous work experience to get a job in social care. It doesn’t matter about your background or how old you are; somewhere in your community there’s a job that you can do to help others.

What’s really important is your values and attitude towards working with people who need care and support.

There are lots of different job roles available in adult social care, it just depends what you're interested in and what role best suits your skills.

What roles are available within Adult Social Care?

Nationally the care sector employs 1.5 million people and demand for care workers is growing.  You may choose to work in a care home setting, or you may prefer to work in the community visiting people in their own home.

There are lots of different job roles available in adult social care, it just depends what you're interested in and what role best suits your skills:

Care Workers / Care Assistants

These are the front line staff in all care settings. They work with all types of people who need care and support, who receive direct care. Their duties vary depending on the needs of the individual, they are responsible for the individuals' overall comfort and wellbeing and help people who need care and support to live as independently as possible.

Carer Relief Workers

Carer relief workers provide home visits to people with dementia living in their own homes.  This service enables a carer to have a short break.  Pre-arranged relief visits arranged between the carer and the sitter and can be during the day, evening or at the weekend for special occasions.

Mental Health Care Workers

Mental health care workers support people with long term mental health problems, helping them to adapt to ordinary life within the community by developing coping skills rather than being institutionalised in a hospital or hostel.

Community Support Workers

Community support workers support individuals to live as independently as possible, often following illness. They will support individuals with many aspects of everyday living; including physical, emotional and social. 

Responders

Responders work with the lifeline control centre.  They work in the community responding to emergency calls made by customers living in the community.  This could be to assist someone who has fallen, is feeling unwell or requires assistance in some way, including signposting and making referrals for other services.

Sheltered Housing Wardens

Sheltered Housing Wardens are based at one of the Council’s sheltered housing schemes.  Wardens visit residents on a daily basis, checking their wellbeing and assisting with tasks as needed, such as contacting the repairs department, helping to complete forms, making referrals for other services.

Would a career in Adult Social Care suit me?

It is very important that care staff enjoy helping and supporting others.  Your values, attitude and how you treat people who need care and support is really important. You’ll be working directly with all sorts of people, with different care and support needs and you may be responsible for their wellbeing.

In social care, you can work with a wide range of different people with different care needs. For example, you could work with a 20-year-old man with a learning disability or a 90-year-old woman with dementia.

Some roles are based in one location and you will go to the same place of work each day.  Other roles are out in the community and will require transport to get from one client to another.

Working hours vary greatly but as the need to care doesn’t end at 5pm, or on Friday evening shift work is common to the sector.

The link below might help you decide whether a career in care is for you:

A question of care quiz (external link opens in new window)

What experience, skills and qualifications do I need?

Experience

There are no specific minimum qualifications to begin working in care although workers must go through a criminal records check and some induction training. Training will also be given on the job in areas such as food hygiene and health and safety.

Care assistants for example, are not expected to have significant experience when recruited.  If you can demonstrate some caring experience, perhaps of your children, or an elderly relative that would be ideal but it is more about your personal qualities that are important.  For example, if you can demonstrate that you have the following qualities you could be ideal:

  • Good communication skills
  • Keen to learn
  • Compassionate
  • Positive
  • Patient
  • Interested in people

Skills

Everyone who works in adult social care needs English, number, some basic digital skills and employability skills (including team work, problem solving, and managing your own health and wellbeing). Together these are known as core skills.

Different roles require a different level of skill. Here are a few examples of the core skills you might use in practice:

  • Communication skills to talk to people you are supporting
  • Writing skills to complete notes
  • Number skills to calculate body mass index (BMI)
  • Time management skills to organise your workload
  • Team working skills to work with other people

Qualifications

Care Certificate

The Care Certificate is a set of standards that social care and health workers stick to in their daily working life. It is the new minimum standards that should be covered as part of induction training of new care workers.

Other qualifications

A suite of qualifications is available for those interested in or already working in adult social care. You do not always need to be working in a social care environment to study so these qualifications can be completed before you takes up a role and will serve as ‘preparation’ for a career in social care.  A comprehensive guide to relevant qualifications can be found here.

What is it like to work as a care assistant?

Supporting older people in a care home environment is immensely rewarding as your working day is spent helping people to contribute to their happiness, health and wellbeing.  

You will work as an important part of a dedicated team and have an opportunity to get to know the residents and their life histories as well as their families.

The article below is a real-life case study of a care assistant in one of our homes:

A day in the life of a carer (pdf 300kb opens in new window)

I have no qualifications or experience. Where do I start?

There is a huge range of opportunities open to you and there are entry routes available for people of all ages and all levels of experience. Entrants to the workforce include those starting work for the first time, those returning to work and those changing career. For some jobs you do not need any formal qualifications before you start as you can train as you work. 

What started as just a job could turn into a career. You will be doing something that is both rewarding and worthwhile with the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.

What qualities do I need?

The most important qualities are an interest in people and a respect for what makes them special. It is important that you care about people, that you are compassionate and are able to empathise and understand other people's feelings. Good listening and communication skills are important, as is the ability to get along with other people and work as part of a team and while you are not expected to agree with or approve of the values and behaviours of other people, a non-judgmental attitude is important. You have to respect a person's privacy and you also need to be able to work confidentially.

Is there a minimum age before I can begin work?

Yes. It is possible to work in some areas of health and social care from the age of 16, in supervised posts. In other areas workers / trainees have to be over 18 years of age as specified in National Minimum Standards. Age restrictions apply where staff provide personal care to service users. 

Are there any checks I need to go through before becoming employed?

Yes. People who work with those who are potentially vulnerable or physically frail need to be of the highest calibre and integrity. All applicants for jobs in social care, social work or in the health sector must therefore, undergo pre-employment checks, which include a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, (formally called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure) and the taking up of references.

What are the benefits of starting a career in social care in the Council?

The Council offers a range of non-pay benefits such as:

  • Local Government Pension 
  • Very competitive rates of pay
  • Generous holiday entitlement
  • Training, including support to attain the Care Certificate
  • Reduced priced leisure centre access
  • Tax efficient car lease and cycle to work schemes 
  • Childcare voucher scheme
  • Work life balance options
  • Support during times of personal crisis
  • In-house Occupational Health support
  • Staff Awards

What hours will I work?

Most jobs in social care need to provide cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, you may be required to work shifts or flexible hours. This will suit people who prefer not to work the conventional nine-to-five. You can often save on childcare expenses and enjoy leisure pursuits and other activities at quieter times away from the crowds. Many opportunities are part-time which may fit around your other commitments.

I’m interested in a career in care, how do I apply for a job?

All our vacancies are available on our recruitment website which can be accessed here.

New jobs are added every week so if there isn’t what you’re looking for this week please check back regularly.