A Care Assistant is expected to be friendly and approachable with a good sense of humour, and a lot of patience. A caring nature is essential and the ability to relate to different people of all backgrounds.
Although not a mandatory requirement, many people begin their career as a Care Assistant by volunteering for an organisation that supports vulnerable people. The internet is a useful resource of finding volunteering opportunities: www.do-it.org.uk and www.volunteering.org.uk are both good websites where you can find out about different positions and how to apply. Organisations will usually want to carry out background checks for people wanting to work with children and vulnerable adults, so be prepared to expect this.
There are also a number of qualifications you could work towards, although again this isn’t essential but will show that you are serious about a career as a Care Assistant. A full list of qualifications that you can work towards is available at www.skillsforcare.org.uk . This website also has useful information about how to start a career in social care.
Another way to get into a career as a Care Assistant is through apprenticeship schemes; the website www.apprenticeships.org.uk is a useful resource for this.
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The job description would vary depending on whether you would be working as a Care Assistant in a nursing home or whether you would be visiting clients in their own homes. But some of the duties of a Care Assistant would be helping clients with their personal needs such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet. There may also be duties of a practical nature such as preparing food, ironing and cleaning and you may also have to tailor your responsibilities according to the client’s needs. This may include taking them to leisure activities and listening to the client is also very important as their needs may change on a daily basis. You may be expected to produce care and development plans for your clients, and organise taking them to and from residential homes.
The working hours of a Care Assistant would typically range from between 35-40 hours per week although this would need to be fairly flexible and may well include weekend or overnight work. A range of part time positions are usually available as well as full time.
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Skills and Training Development
Jobs in adult social care in England typically start with a twelve week induction course provided by your employer, covering various aspects of care and also topics such as hygiene and health and safety. You will also receive on the job training. As your career progresses, there will be options to study for further qualifications for example a diploma or degree level.
The starting salary for somebody just starting out in their career would range from £12,000 – £16,000. This would increase to between £18,000 – £21,0000 for somebody who is experienced, has extra responsibilities or who has gained qualifications which enable them to carry out specialised care. A higher rate is usually paid for night shift work.