In the UK, there are thousands of jobs that span across many industries and it can often be difficult to know where to begin. While it is completely possible to step into a job with ease and little guidance, in the majority people are expected to have a level of acumen, experience or education in that particular field.
Working with the elderly is a role that certainly requires a certain level of training and knowledge but it is largely based on one’s personal attributes for the role for it to be carried out to the highest standard. A role in residential care is more of a vocation (or calling) than an occupation.
Many people begin careers in care for the elderly without perhaps having a full understanding of exactly what is involved. A quick internet search for “care home jobs near me” will provide someone with a vast array of positions available, however whilst it may sound easy on the surface, care work can encompass a wide range of duties that can be both physically and emotionally demanding.
However it can also be one of the most rewarding career paths that you could take, with so much to gain from the work and even more importantly, so much to offer to others. Contrary to popular belief that this type of job is not rewarding or job satisfaction is low, there are many reasons why staff love working in a care home.
Working in a care home is very sociable. Staff are effectively working in people’s homes and it is important to ensure and maintain a homely feel that is less formal than that of acute environments. The main reason many working in care are so endeared to the role is that residents become part of an extended family.
Many residents live in a care home for years and with that, staff and residents build exceptionally strong bonds and relationships, especially where a resident may not have loved ones or even visitors, staff will fill that role.
Care home staff are able to share special occasions such as Birthdays and Christmas with their residents and make these events meaningful.
Beyond the social element of care work, there are of course various tasks required of a health care assistant. The role can often be challenging as many residents who are require support in a care home setting tend to be at a more advanced stage in their lives and often have more complex needs. However, any good care home provider will ensure that you are trained appropriately to provide this support through their own internal training programs or external courses.
Arguably the most important aspect of any caring role, whether it is with the elderly or any other vulnerable individual, is the genuine passion and care that the worker has.
Working with old people is by no means a glamorous job and it can be both stressful and emotional at times, so the need for a real enthusiasm and caring nature is absolutely necessary in order to do the job well. An adept care worker is full of empathy and kindness and performs the role from their heart and not simply for a pay cheque at the end of the week.
This is why people often find great satisfaction from a role in care as it resonates with their own personal outlook on life, giving them the opportunity to bring happiness and joy to other people’s lives.
If you are interested in a role in care, these are some of the responsibilities you can expect to undertake:
- Personal Care: This could include helping the resident use the toilet, washing and bathing, intimate care and dressing.
- Moving and Handling: Depending on the mobility of the individual you are supporting, you may be expected to be able to safely assist in moving and handling.
- Provide companionship: One of the greatest aspects of care but often overlooked is the requirement for you to build relationships with people and ensure they are happy. Of course, you will be expected to help in home led activities and so on, but a true care worker will want to build strong bonds with those that they care for to truly bring fulfilment.
- Promoting independence: Encouraging residents to do as much for themselves as possible. Allowing them to feel they are capable and you are a helping hand, despite how much or little they can do. Everything that an elderly person can do for themselves will improve their wellbeing and self belief, which encourages them and gives them renewed vigour.
- Promote dignity during support: You will always be expected to support and respect those in your care.
- Supporting someone to eat meals: Some residents may require assistance with eating.
- Getting out into the community: Many carers will assist in days out, trips and social gatherings.
- Medication and medical appointments: As you develop in your career, you may be expected to ensure that all medication is administered and taken safely and as prescribed. It may also at times be asked that you escort individuals under your care to medical appointments either at the GP’s or the hospital.
To be successful in a care role, you need to consider the following important personal attributes that a care worker should have:
- Respect and understanding: It is believed that around one third of people over 50 are confident that older people who receive care services such as help with getting dressed or washing, either at home or in a care home, are treated with dignity and respect. With this in mind, it shows that any person considering this type of work must be respectful and understanding at all times. This is a basic requirement of any kind of job where you are caring for another life.
- Empathy: While it can be very difficult to understand what someone may be going through, it is important that you are able to show empathy, allowing them to know that you are there and offer your support with whatever they may be experiencing can help that person immensely.
- Patience: Many individuals may not consider the types of elderly people they may be caring for. While many may be of a very capable level, there will be others who may not have capacity of their situation, especially those suffering with a form of Dementia. This can lead to confusion, aggression and even violence; so again, understanding and patience are paramount.
- Giving time: Taking the time to be with a resident and listening to them. Time is the greatest gift you can give a resident.
- Reliable: It may not seem like it, but for many older people, having interaction with their carer, regardless of the situation may be the highlight of their day. Many elderly people have no family which can often be very isolating. With this in mind, it is important to remain consistent and reliable, as you could be making such a huge difference to that person just by visiting when you say you will. You will also be working in a team of individuals with the same aim, to provide the very best standard of care to residents. If you are unreliable this can place huge additional pressure on your colleagues and ultimately effect the level of care given to the residents at the home.
- Kind and Caring: It may seem obvious, but the need for genuinely caring and kind natured workers is extremely important for this industry. It is not the sort of career you can do half-heartedly, and requires a genuine passion to care for others.
The list of important traits could go on, and it is important to consider those types of scenarios that you could find yourself in if you were to do this kind of job. If you feel you would be uncomfortable and out of your depth then perhaps consider if you have what it takes to enter into the elderly care sector.