Social care worker job

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Carl Potter is a social care worker with Dundee City Council. He looks after elderly people in a new one-care home that provides both residential and nursing care.

What is the residential home like?

This is a brand new home that is divided into wings. Each wing has a central living area with television, easy chairs and dining tables as well as bedroom, bathrooms and a kitchen. Eight people live as a group in each wing with one or two members of staff to look after them.

What is your daily working routine?

On early shift, my day starts at 7.30 a.m. with a staff meeting to keep us up to date with what is happening – for example, colleagues could have noticed that one resident seems a little depressed and could need extra attention.

After we take over from the night staff, my first job is to greet all the residents on my wing. Some like to get up early and they are dressed by the time I arrive. Others prefer to stay in bed later. I let everyone get up in their own time. Some residents need full assistance with dressing but others might only need a little help.

What hours do social care workers work?

We work early, late and night shifts on a rota system. Usually, this works out at a normal 36-hour week.Work is spread over seven days so I will be working some weekends, although I get time off during the week.

Do you make all the meals?

I make tea, toast and cereal for those who want this in the wing's own kitchen. Hot food, like bacon and porridge, is sent from the main kitchen and kept warm on heated trolleys. It is important to check the temperature of the food, as elderly people are much more prone to food poisoning. I also serve lunch, dinner and supper on the wing.

Do you help in the activities for the residents?

One or two mornings a week I take residents to music and movement sessions in the communal activity room. They play musical instruments and do simple exercises to loosen their joints – it's noisy, but it is great fun. Sometimes, we have concert parties and theatre groups at the home. Some residents don't have many visitors, so I could take them to the local shops, to the cinema, or to an afternoon dance at the local pub.

Most days there's a chance for the residents to socialise in the wing where they mainly chat and play board games.

What skills do you need to be a social care worker?

It's important to like people. Personal care is a very small part of the job, but you shouldn't be squeamish about helping people taking a bath, shower or going to the toilet. Patience is vital as elderly people can be slow. Teamwork is also important.

What are your plans for the future?

I will always want to work with elderly people. Eventually, I hope for a senior position in a residential home, or I could become a care manager, planning the care that people will need to stay in their own homes.

Carl's route to his job as a social care worker

  • National Certificate in Social Care
  • Applied for present job while still at college.
  • Two-year part-time HNC in Social Care.
  • SVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care.

Carl's social care worker tip

  • Work experience or voluntary work with the elderly will help you decide if you would enjoy this career.

Related social care worker jobs

  • Healthcare assistant
  • Occupational therapy support worker
  • Field Social worker
  • Residential Social worker
  • Accommodation Warden

Social care worker salary

  • Starting salaries range from £9,000 to £15,000, depending on qualifications and experience.
  • People working in residential centres, with unsociable hours, can earn up to £16,000.
  • Senior staff can earn up to £18,000.

How to become a social care worker

  • There are no set requirements for starting work as a care worker. It is possible to work in supervised posts in some areas of social care from the age of 16, but in other areas you must be at least 18. All social care workers are subject to checks with the criminal records bureau.
  • In the first six weeks of your job you will follow an induction programme using national standards adapted to where you work. This will lead onto foundation training that should be completed within six months of starting work.
  • Modern Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) are available.
  • You can work towards qualifications including NVQ Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Care, and NVQ Level 3 in Promoting Independence. Various NVQs/SVQs in Management are also available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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