Whether you’re a school leaver about to embark on your career or you’re considering a career change, why not become a carer?
UK care homes and social care facilities are currently facing huge staff shortages. By the end of this year, it’s estimated they’ll be 170,000 care vacancies across England, leaving large gaps in the workforce. When you combine this with the forecasted minimum wage increase, there’s never been a better time to become a carer!
Becoming a carer: qualifications and experience
It’s a hugely rewarding, yet at times, challenging profession that doesn’t require too many formal qualifications or prior experience. Depending on the role you’re applying for, most facilities offer induction courses and supervised training to determine your competency.
While your specific personality traits are paramount and generally outweigh most qualifications and diplomas, there are many certifications that you can undertake. These will provide you with background knowledge, practicalities and skill.
Certifications in health and social care or equivalent NVQs are fundamental, competence-based qualifications for caregivers. The idea is that once you move on to working within the care environment, your skillset will continuously grow.
Depending on who you want to care for—from societies most vulnerable, to the elderly or people with degenerative brain diseases such as dementia—will very much depend upon the type of qualifications you may need. This also applies to the setting in which you wish to work, such as home care, care homes or nursing homes.
Caring for those with more complex care needs may require a nursing qualification. This will enable you to provide technical or clinical care. Nursing care may include monitoring people with catheters, tracheostomies or those who require support tube feeding.
However, becoming a caregiver to people with such a wide range of support needs, means that your personality traits and qualities reign supreme.
The qualities you’ll need to succeed as a carer
There’s no better reward than knowing the massive difference you’re making to someone’s quality of life. Here are just some of the qualities and personality traits you’ll need:
Empathy, intuition and compassion
Each of these skills will help you to gain valuable insight into the mindset and behaviour of the person you’re caring for. When you instinctively anticipate exactly what support each person needs, you’ll be compassionate to the reasoning behind it. This also applies to the families involved—these qualities will enable you to develop sensitive and trusted relationships whilst avoiding misunderstandings or conflict.
Patience, positivity and passion
The people you’ll care for may be challenging, have diminished abilities and might be slower when it comes to their mobility, expressing their feelings or making their needs clear. This may result in their emotions running high and you bearing the brunt of their frustrations. Maintaining your professional patience with a positive disposition is absolutely vital, no matter how difficult the task you’re undertaking may become. Equally, passion fosters social bonds, fuels your motivation and boosts your focus. If you’re passionate about what you do, the people that you care for will automatically feel more at ease.
Communication, attention to detail and continued development
We communicate for a variety of reasons including sharing information, asking questions and developing relationships. It should go without saying that clear communication skills are essential skills to providing quality care. Particularly if the person you’re caring for has hearing or visual impairments, a learning disability or degenerative brain disease. Paying close attention to the seemingly smallest of details ensures that no steps are missed, increases your productivity and achieves accuracy when completing tasks. Equally, by continually developing your qualities and updating your training, you’ll strengthen your skillset and improve your knowledge surrounding best practices and current procedures.
Reliability, flexibility and problem-solving
The people you’ll be caring for will depend on you. Not only to assist with their daily living and meet their care needs but for social interaction. They may not have much contact with anyone else. Oftentimes the time they spend with you will most likely be something that they look forward to. Moreover, care requirements aren’t just limited to the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. This means you’ll have to be flexible in order to tailor your approach, meet each need and go above and beyond to adapt to new situations. The same approach applies to problem-solving. Be prepared to encounter the unexpected and deal with emergency situations on a regular basis.
Other qualities you’ll need to be a great carer include:
- Respectfulness and treating others with dignity.
- Being organised and methodical.
- Working well as part of a team and alone.
- Friendliness, personability and warmth.
- Confidence in your own ability.
- Conscientious…and caring!
Last but not least, a smile goes a long way!
We can’t put this better than in the opening lines of the infamous “Smile” poem by Spike Milligan:
Smiling is infectious,
You catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too…