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...
- Look after the physical and mental wellbeing of children or vulnerable adults
- Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
- You could take on more responsibility as a senior support worker or manager
As a residential support worker, your clients could include children in care, or adults with physical or learning disabilities, mental health problems, addiction issues or other emotional or social needs.
- Checking residents' needs and progress
- Providing physical care, which could include bathing, toileting, dressing and feeding
- Providing one-to-one counselling or group therapy sessions
- Teaching daily living skills like budgeting, shopping and claiming benefits
- Providing leisure and creative activities in a safe and supportive setting
- Helping residents to deal with problems and become independent, and talking with residents' families
- Arranging family and home visits
You'll also be expected to keep accurate records and write reports. These may be used in case reviews and future care plans.
You may often work on a shift rota including weekends, evenings and sleep-in duties. You may also be on call at times. You could be based in children's homes, hostels, or adult residential care centres. You may also spend time in the community doing activities with residents. The work can be challenging, as you may be supporting residents with unpredictable behaviour.
This role would be ideal for someone with the ability to get on with people of all ages and backgrounds and gain their trust, tact, patience and understanding, computer literacy and administration skills, and mental strength to cope with challenging situations and clients.
You'll need to pass enhanced background checks for this role. To work in children's homes, you must be at least 18 years old, and at least 4 years older than the oldest child in the home. For this reason, many of these jobs carry a minimum age restriction of 23.
Some social care employers will be more interested in your work and life experience than formal qualifications, and you can get these whilst working. You can start working as a support worker in a children's home, a care home or a hostel.
You can get voluntary experience in a number of ways like: volunteering at a youth club, having personal experience of caring for a family member or doing voluntary work in a care home, nursery or relevant charity.
You could take a course at college, like a Level 2 Diploma in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care, Level 2 GCSE in Health and Social Care, Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce or Level 2 Certificate or Diploma in Youth Work Practice. Although taking a social care qualification is not essential for finding work, most courses include work placements, so this could be a very good way for you to get experience.
Alternatively, you could get into this job through an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship.
With experience, you could take on more responsibility as a senior support worker or manager. You could also train as a social worker.