Going the extra mile!

By J&C Team

Looking for a job offering flexibility and the chance to make a difference to people’s lives? Try the care sector!

Against the backdrop of a fragile economic landscape, one thing about the care industry remains true – with an ageing population, the need for care workers at all levels is greater than ever. Indeed, 1.58 million adult social care roles were recorded in England in 2017, and this is a number that’s set to rise in direct proportion to the growing number of people aged 65-plus within the general population1.

As well as the residential care that forms the backbone of the UK’s care industry, the social care sector encompasses youth and community work, social work, sheltered housing, helping those with addictions and roles supporting people with physical or mental disabilities to live independently. These are backed up by “auxiliary” positions the sectors couldn’t operate without. These include administration and finance professionals who keep the back office ticking over, as well as the cooking and cleaning and staff who ensure the people in their care are comfortable and well looked after.

Below we look at five of the most popular roles in care.

Care assistant

This role involves helping clients with their personal care, such as washing and dressing, preparing food and medication, if needed, carrying out general tasks such as housework or the weekly shop, and helping the client get out and about if required. Showing an interest in clients’ lives and the ability to chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit are also essential!

What skills do I need? Good communication skills, plenty of patience and tact, and the ability to remain calm under pressure, as you may find that some clients have challenging behaviour.

How can I progress? There is scope to take on a supervisory role or managerial position.

How much can I earn? Salaries start around £12,500 to £16,000, increasing to £17,000 to £19,000 with experience. As a supervisor, you can earn up to £25,000.

Admin assistant

As an admin assistant in the care industry, you could be based in a care home or an office supporting carers in their roles. This is a busy role that requires good organisation skills and attention to detail – there may be data entry, typing reports, general office duties such as photocopying and ordering office supplies, managing enquiries and supporting senior staff (organising travel, for example).

What skills do I need? Some employers require GCSEs grades 9-4 (A*- C), including maths and English. You’ll also need good IT, grammar and number skills, as well as a professional manner.

How can I progress? You can be promoted to supervisor or office manager.

How much can I earn? Salaries start around £14,000 to £18,000, increasing to £19,000 to £23,000 with experience. Office managers can earn up to £30,000.

Social worker

People in this role help vulnerable individuals and families to live safely and experience a good quality of life. You’ll be supporting people with varying needs, from mental health issues to physical disabilities and those who are elderly. You’ll likely spend time with families and children who need support to live more balanced, stable lives. 

What skills do I need? You’ll need a degree in social work approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or, if you have an unrelated undergraduate degree, to do a two-year postgraduate diploma or masters degree in social work. You can also apply for a fast-track training route such as Step Up to Social Work (search at gov.uk for details). You’ll need to be compassionate, with good communication and problem-solving skills, and to be organised and resilient – this is a role in which you’re likely to encounter emotional distress.

How can I progress? The most common professional development qualification is an MA/MSc in advanced social work, which will give you the opportunity to register as a higher-level practitioner with the General Social Care Council.

How much can I earn? Newly qualified social workers earn around £22,000 a year, while experienced and higher-level practitioners receive £40,000 to £45,000-plus. NHS social workers earn £26,041 to £34,876.

Youth worker

As a youth worker, you’ll be involved in helping young people reach their potential, in their education and personal lives. You’ll support them with issues such as bullying, gangs, drugs, violence and difficult family relationships, help devise and run youth activities and projects, create business plans and apply for funding.

What skills do I need? You’ll need a bachelor’s degree validated by the National Youth Agency (see box, right). Additional professional training is available to graduates who don’t hold a relevant degree. You’ll need to be compassionate, patient, sensitive and reliable, with a great deal of resilience.

How can I progress? Professional development is provided on the job, and the Institute for Youth Work (see box, below) encourages continuous professional development. Postgraduate courses in community work are also available, after which you can take on more specialist work, such as working in gang prevention.

How much can I earn? There’s a broad range of salaries for youth workers, especially among those starting out. Those who are still qualifying can earn between £14,597 and £26,398, while more experienced professionals earn £23,213 to £37,549.

Adult learning disability support worker

This broad role involves supporting adults with learning disabilities to live fulfilling lives in a way that helps them be as independent as possible. You may help with shopping and cooking, plan trips out or manage their finances – and you’ll need to be a kind and reliable presence in their lives. 

What skills do I need? Patience, tact, compassion and resilience. Voluntary experience in the social work or care sector can help, and you’ll need some English and maths skills, as well as a clean driving licence. You’ll also need a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

How can I progress? A charity such as Mencap offers a wide range of learning and development programmes for support workers, including management training. 

How much can I earn? Starting roles pay £17,000 to £21,000 a year, which can rise to £22,000 to £24,000 with experience. Senior support workers earn up to £27,000.