So, you’re sold that Health and Social Care is the path for you. That’s great and all, but where on earth do you start...
- Requires excellent listening and communication skills, sensitivity and understanding and the ability to work well with others
- With experience, progress to a more senior role like advocacy coordinator
- Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
You'll give support on many issues, like choice of accommodation, care, home closure, discontentment with the service, exploitation or abuse (physical, psychological, financial or sexual), financial matters, power of attorney disputes, or difficulties with family members.
- Making sure residents are treated fairly and with dignity
- Finding and explaining information
- Helping residents explore their options and make informed choices
- Making sure residents have access to their care plan
- Helping residents to speak for themselves or speaking on their behalf
- Helping to negotiate with others involved in decisions
- Going with residents to meetings to provide moral support or attending meetings on their behalf
- Working with care home staff and other agencies
You'll be based in an office, but you'll spend much of your time visiting clients in care homes and attending meetings. Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Many advocates work as volunteers, and paid positions can be part-time. Volunteers usually receive travel expenses. Sessional work is also sometimes available.
To be a care home advocate you'll need to have excellent listening and communication skills, sensitivity and understanding and the ability to work well with others.
You could apply directly to become a care home advocate. Employers are likely to place more importance on your skills than on your qualifications.
Experience in care work, social work or counselling could give you an advantage. You'll need to have an understanding of the needs of older people and show a positive attitude to ageing. You may also find it useful if you've had experience as a user of advocacy or care services. It might also help if you can speak a community language for some jobs.
You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include a Level 2 Certificate in Health and Social Care and a Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care.
You could also do an Adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship followed by further training. Some private training providers offer nationally recognised qualifications that include units on advocacy.
Starting as a volunteer advocate would be a good way to get experience. As a volunteer you would receive training and support to develop your skills.
With experience, you could progress to a more senior role, like advocacy coordinator.