If you’re considering a career in care then you probably want to know if you have the right attributes for the role. But how can you know when you’ve never done any care work or completed any qualifications?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
With a little help from our friends at Skills for Care, we’ve outlined exactly what you need to work in care. Because while you don’t need experience or qualifications to get started in the industry, you do need to have the right core skills, attitude and character traits.
Are you the type of person that sees a solution where others see a problem? Can you think on your feet to make something work better? If so then you can count yourself as a resourceful person.
Resourcefulness is needed in the care sector due to the fact that no two days are going to be the same. It’s not like an office job where you go and stare at the same screen and report on the same numbers day after day. In care you’ll be working directly with people and people can be unpredictable – so you’ll often have to think on your feet to deal with challenges or find something fun to do with the person you are caring for.
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “It’s important that people that come into care are able to be resourceful so that they are able to see a situation and provide a creative solution that will help and support the people they are working with.”
Let’s be clear: we don’t mean that you need to have the charisma of a film-star or the chat of a talk-show host, you just need to be able to relate to and get on with people from lots of different backgrounds.
Of course, the more care work you do the more you’ll be able to adapt to each individual’s needs and build lasting relationships but in the beginning you just need to demonstrate that you can hold a conversation and listen – skills that most people have. And if you’ve done any customer service or hospitality roles in the past then you should be well prepared.
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “Employers will want people to come into care that are able to interact with different types of people and be able to relate to people that have very different levels of communication and abilities.”
In a care role, it’s not only your employer that will be counting on you but the people you look after too. So it’s doubly important that you’re reliable, organised and don’t make a habit of letting people down.
In an interview situation, you can demonstrate this quality by talking about your attendance record in previous jobs and listing some of the projects you have seen through to completion. Turning up on time will help, too!
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “We are always looking for people who have a strong sense of commitment and motivation and someone that can be counted on. People that are in receipt of care and support need people who can be relied upon to always show up when they are supposed to.
People that come into adult social care need to have organisational skills that demonstrate they have the ability to make arrangements or preparations in a sensible and methodical way, in order that they can be counted on to support people to live a fulfilling life.”
Care work is about building trust and providing more than just a service for the people you work with. It’s about listening to their needs and problems and giving them the right level of support. And it’s very difficult to do all that if you don’t have empathy.
It’s important to say, though, that empathy is not just about whether you cry at the sad bits in films, or give to charity each month. Empathy means seeing the world from other perspectives and having the emotional intelligence to understand if someone’s struggling or looking for extra support.
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “It’s important that the person shows empathy to the people that need care and support in order for them to be able to understand and share the feelings of that person, even if they have not been in that situation themselves.”
Like any job, there will be things that go wrong and obstacles to be overcome when working in care. It’s how you deal with adversity that matters – and every good care worker quickly learns how to put the bad days behind them and retain their focus in the same way that a hospitality worker is not defined by one bad shift.
It’s also important to remember that care work is a hands-on role with more freedom than you might find in other industries (one of the reasons it’s so fulfilling). For that reason, candidates that can take the lead, are proactive and don’t need to be micro-managed tend to thrive.
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “We are always looking for people that are self-motivated and have the ability to keep going even in the face of setbacks, to take up opportunities, and to show commitment to the role and the people they are supporting.”
The nature of care work can change rapidly – one day you might be completing some admin in an office, the next cooking for an elderly person in their home. So you need to be able to wear different hats (not literally, obvs) and be prepared to play different roles.
If you’re not sure if you have this skill have a think about situations that have taken you out of your comfort zone and forced you to adapt quickly. Did you sink or swim? If the answer is ‘swim’ then you’re the kind of candidate the care sector needs.
Amanda Ashworth from Skills for Care says: “Being flexible in social care is important so that the work can meet both their own and the employer’s needs.”
Think you have what it takes to work in care? Open Placed now to discover entry level care jobs at your fingertips.