As a care assistant, care worker or social care worker, you would provide practical help with daily activities to people with a range of difficulties.
You could work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities, older people or families.
You could work with clients in their own homes, in sheltered housing, day centres or in residential settings such as nursing homes.
Your exact duties may vary depending on the type of setting, but could include:
l getting to know clients and being aware of their interests and needs
l supporting clients with daily personal care such as washing, dressing, using the toilet and feeding
l general tasks such as housework, laundry and shopping
l helping clients organise their budget, pay bills and write letters
l helping families adjust to new caring responsibilities
l working with other health and social care professionals to deliver individual care and development plans
l helping to organise recreational activities
l escorting clients on necessary trips.
You could also work as a personal assistant, which involves working closely with one disabled person to support them in their daily life.
Your working hours are likely to include weekends. In residential settings, you would usually cover a rota that involves occasional overnight stays and in some jobs you may need to live in.
Part-time hours are frequently available.
Your employer will usually provide you with protective clothing such as gloves and tabards.
If you work in the community you may need to travel between clients’ homes.
Starting salaries can be between around £12,000 and £16,000 a year.
With experience, qualifications and extra responsibilities or specialist support worker skills this may rise to between £18,000 and £21,000.
In some cases, free or subsidised accommodation is provided.
Night shifts and weekend working may attract a higher hourly rate.
It would be useful to have experience in a caring role, perhaps through volunteering or with your own family.
Previous experience is likely to be essential if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.
To work in the community, some employers will expect you to have a driving licence because you are likely to have clients in a number of different locations.
Once you start work as a care assistant you will receive on-the-job training from your employer, which will often include working closely with experienced colleagues.
You may also attend external courses on issues surrounding hygiene, health and safety, and lifting techniques.