Career Path Health and Social Care

There are many careers with-in the Health and Social Care Sector which require different levels of experience and qualifications. Below is a list of some of the careers and their explanations and levels of experience and qualifications you need before you can carry out these roles. The list I have provided is not exhaustive and there are also many other careers that you can do within the Health and Social care sector but I hope it gives evidence that I have a good knowledge of the sector and where I could head after gaining the relevant experience and qualifications.

You can at the moment start working in the Care sector without any formal qualifications in Care, but after a probation period most employers will want you to work towards Common Induction Standards such as a level 2 NVQ in Health and Social Care or a similar recognised care qualification. NVQ’s have now changed to The Qualification and Credit Framework or (QCF National Diplomas) mostly starting at a level 2. If you wanted to start work at an entry level in the Care sector you might be the following titles.

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Care Assistant

Your job title might also be Support worker but you would provide practical help and support with everyday tasks that your service user might need assistance with. They may also be totally dependent on you to carry out a task for them that let them live as much an independent life as possible in the community or a residential Care setting. You would do this by encouraging them to be positive to life changes that might of happened to them such as an illness and support them to make choices about their care and how they want to live their life.

As a Care Assistant you may work with families, children, persons with learning or physical disabilities and the elderly either in the community such as peoples own homes or day centres or residential Care / Nursing homes or Children’s Centres. As a Care Assistant you would have to build relationships with your service users and possibly their families or their other key support workers and have a real understanding of their specific needs. You will have to support them with personal care such as washing and dressing and feeding and carry out domestic tasks such as their laundry and general cleaning or possibly their shopping. You would possibly have to help them organise general housekeeping tasks such assisting them to organise paying bills, or budgeting their money.

You will have to provide social and emotional support them. You may also after training be able to assist in or administer certain medication. If working in the community you would also have to help the service users support network such as their family or friends adjust to their new care needs. If working in a residential or nursing home you will also work alongside other health professionals such as nurses and will help in delivering the services users ISP, ( Individual Service Plan ) or ICP, ( Individual Care plan) which will both be person centred towards the service user. You may also be involved in arranging and supporting your service users in recreational activities or escorting them to appointments etc. Working in Care can be very challenging and demanding at times, but no two days will ever be the same.

You will need to be committed to working with people from all walks of life from many different back grounds such as religion, cultures and nationality and be willing to help support them overcome any problems they may have. You will need to have an understanding of basic health and hygiene standards. You must be sensitive to the needs of people from different religious and cultural backgrounds. You will need to be a good listener and be able to help people face difficult and distressing situations while all the time respecting their dignity and right to confidentiality. You will need to be able to prioritise work and have good time management as well as being reasonably physically fit to carry out lifting and carrying tasks.

Most of all you will need to be able to keep calm under pressure and have a compassionate nature. As stated already you do not need any formal academic qualifications to start work as a Care Assistant, relevant life experience and previous experience of working with people in a social care/support setting is often more useful but your employer will want you to complete the Common Induction Standards and it is likely that you will be encouraged to achieve the relevant QCF qualifications once you are working.

As a minimum this is likely to be a Level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care. You might also be able to start your career in care through an apprenticeship scheme, The salary of a Care Assistant can vary depending on your position, the level of your experience, your qualifications and the type of organisation you work for. However with study, training and a real commitment to the job then you could see your salary increasing year on year and further pathways open up to you within the sector as opportunities to progress up the ladder or into other care sectors are always on offer.

Day Care Worker A Day Care worker is where you would work in a day care facility or centre that provide services for adults with a range of mental health problems, physical or learning disabilities and for older people with difficulties such as dementia. You would need to provide support by stimulation to help them maintain their independence and self – esteem and to sustain their quality of life within their own community. The organisations you might work for include local authorities, voluntary organisations, charities, faith organisations and private companies. You would have to provide practical, social and emotional support within a stimulating environment where the service user can develop new skills and interests such as cooking, gardening, shopping, sports, arts and crafts.

You would also provide personal care for people who need assistance with everyday tasks such as personal hygiene, feeding and mobility. You would also encourage them to interact with each other to build their social skills and help reduce and overcome any social isolation they may be feeling. This in turn would then help build their self-confidence and feeling of well-being. To carry out this role you will need to have qualities such as patience, sensitivity, understanding and the ability to listen and support. At times the work can be physically demanding so stamina and good health are important. So too is the ability to communicate well and to be able build relationships with the people you are helping, their family and carers as well as your own work team.

Again you would not need any formal qualifications to start as a Day Care Worker but many employers have differing expectations and it may be a requirement for all day care staff to be registered with the General Social Care Council. Following registration there would be a requirement for you to undertake on-going training relevant to the job role which would normally include a recognised qualification such as a QCF level 2, and then with commitment and further study, new pathways can open such as becoming a unit manager of a day centre/s where your salary would be enhanced further.

Domiciliary Care Worker A Domiciliary care worker or Community care worker provides personal care and practical help to people living in their own homes. The need for this type of care may be because of illness, infirmity or a physical or learning disabilities and can involve working with adults and/or children. It is a fast growing and evolving service brought about by the changing needs of our society. It involves working with the individuals directly or by supporting their families and other carers by helping them maintain independence and live at home as long as possible. Working with adults you might give support with everyday activities such as the preparation of meals, shopping, paying bills and writing letters or you may help those who have been ill or recently discharged from hospital to regain their confidence and skills.

You might also help people get involved in social or educational activities that without your support they would not be able to enjoy. As a Domiciliary Care Worker working within children’s services you might be involved in providing guidance on parenting skills, advice/counselling on behaviour management as well as providing practical support for children with physical and learning disabilities or mental health issues. In this environment your aim would always be to try and prevent the family breakdown whilst helping to protect the children. As a domiciliary care worker you would have to provide a flexible support service including emotional and social support. You must be able to listen and befriend the people you are supporting.

You will need to be honest and very reliable with a mature and tolerant attitude as you will be a positive role model. You must have good sound values, and good humour, being sensitive to and understanding of situations that might not be the norm for you. It is important that people in difficult and stressful situations can trust you and know that you respect them and are on their side. You will work with other care professionals so you must be able to work as a team whilst being resourceful when working on your own initiative.

To become a Domiciliary Care Worker you do not need to have any qualifications but you will be expected to undertake the Common Induction Standards and achieve the relevant QCF Level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care once you are working. With further study you would be able to progress up the ladder into other Care roles such as a Supervisor role or Coordinator.

After entering the Care profession at an entry level and then gaining a level 2 qualification, you would be able to progress in to the following roles

Senior Care Assistant / Lead Care Manager After gaining a level 2 qualification in Health and Social Care or equivalent you may be able to progress to a Senior Care Assistant out in the community or possibly a Lead Care Manger as I was in my last employment in a residential nursing home while working towards a Level 3 Qualification or equivalent to progress again further. For both these roles either working in the community, a residential care setting or a day centre setting, you will still be caring out all the duties as you were at the entry level into Care but you will be involved in the supervision of other Care Assistants, supporting them with their training and development.

You may also have specific responsibility for one or two service users who may have particularly complex needs. This role is also sometimes referred to as a Key Worker. You will also be more involved in caring out assessments of potential service users with coordinators and on-going assessments as the service users’ needs change and be much more involved in the legal document side as well as responsibility of mentoring and being responsible for other Care Assistants development and supervisions within your organisation.

Day Care Supervisor It is also possible to become a Day care supervisor in a Day centre as long as you were working towards a level 3 qualification. The role of a day care supervisor involves the supervision of day care workers, including volunteers as well as some hands on support with the people who use the services. Specific responsibilities might include: the design of individual care packages for the people who use services alongside the day care manager, liaising with social workers and other support services, assisting with the smooth running of the day care service, assistance with administration and budgeting.

To become a day care supervisor you will have to have considerable experience of day care work. You will also be expected to be qualified to, or be working towards, NVQ Level 3 in Care. Some day care supervisors may also have an NVQ Level 4 or have a supervisory management qualification or equivalent depending on the location or job description requirements.

After gaining a level 3 qualification in Health and Social Care or equivalent you could then choose to apply for the following positions while studying towards a level 4 qualification.

Care Co-ordinator or Home Care Organiser

A Care Co-ordinator or Home Care Organiser works in the area of social care with a team of home care workers and is responsible for the provision of personal care and practical help to people in their own homes. The need for this type of care may be because of illness, infirmity or physical or learning disabilities and can involve working with adults and/or children. You may also be a Co-ordinator in a residential setting where the job description is generally the same and has the same responsibilities but just in a residential care setting rather than in the community.

You would be responsible of supervising and managing the day to day work of the home care team or care team in a residential setting. You would provide additional support to staff in more complex cases and ensure that your care team are continually developing in their training and knowledge skills and are up to date in any new legislation or best practise. In turn this would help ensure that high standards of care are being consistently provided. You would provide the necessary reports and paperwork relating to the people who use your organisations services as well as any staff documents that are required to be kept by law and up to date. You could also be responsible or part responsible for recruiting, training and disciplining staff when needed.

You would also work and liaise at a higher level with other care professions such as social workers and health care professionals involved in a service user’s needs. As a Co-ordinator or Home Organiser you would have to have the skill set to provide a smooth running, reliable support service for service users and be able to continually support and train your staff to ensure that the service provided is of the highest standard possible. To do this you would need a very good understanding of the needs of the people using the service including their families/carers and any legislation/policies surrounding the delivery of their care. You must be a good judge of character with the confidence to manage a team of diverse personalities and have good organizational and planning skills and you must be able to respond quickly to emergency situations.

You will also be resourceful and be able to work without direct supervision in an honest, good natured attitude towards your work and be very reliable. You will also at this level have very good communication skills and administration skills to produce reports as well as being able to deal with HR requirements and budget issues. To carry out this position you would have normally worked in care before possibly at a lower level such as a Care assistant or home care worker and gained in-depth experience of the service and of staffing requirements and potential issues. To do this role you will normally need a minimum of a Level 3 qualification with possible added specialist modules around the people you are working with and would be looking towards gaining a higher level qualification.

Activities Leader The work of an Activities Worker usually takes place outside of school and is aimed at helping young people develop their personal and social skills through participation in outdoor activities and giving them the support they need to build their confidence, their self-esteem and how to build and cope with new relationships. It involves working with groups of young people, schools and other agencies such as youth clubs and community projects and employment is usually provided by local authorities in mainland UK. Given the nature of the work a large part of your time will be spent out of doors, in special centres and/or parks and your specific responsibilities might include, working directly with young people who have specific needs such as behavioural problems, physical and/or mental disabilities and those from ethnic minorities.

You would be responsible of developing inter-personal skills by encouraging groups of young people to work together in problem solving activities and developing programmes of activities for each group, making sure that they are relevant, safe and stimulating. You will also be responsible for the maintenance and safety of equipment and facilities The work of an Activities Leader includes all of this with additional responsibilities for the training, development and safety of his/her team of activity workers as well as the administrative duties necessary for the running of an activities unit. You will need to have a reasonable level of physical fitness as work is often physically demanding, noisy and very active.

You will need to be Flexible and adapt readily to change with plenty of stamina, enthusiasm and patience. You must be aware of how different social groups function and how to get new groups of people to get on well together and how to handle conflict. You will need to have a good understanding of young people’s attitudes, cultures and the issues that may affect them. You will also be able to adapt your approach to suit the people you are working with and the environment you are working in and be good at relating to young people, and helping them identify and build on their strengths and most of all you will have a great caring sensitive nature while be able to project yourself in a professional manner You must have had extensive experience working with young people and attained usually a minimum of a level 3 qualification or possibly a level 4 with additional training units in relevant practical subjects plus supervisory and training skills relevant to the job description.

A Nurse After gaining a level 3 qualification in Health and Social Care it is then possible to apply to do an entry level course to then train to be a nurse. This is a pathway that I would like to explore after gaining my Level 3 qualification and I will touch on how I can do this a little later on in this paper after explaining a few more careers you can do within Health and social care first.

After working in care and gaining the skills and experience needed and studying up to an equivalent of a level 4 in Health and Social Care you could choose to apply for the following roles.

Residential Manager or Deputy Residential Manager As a Residential Manager you would be responsible for the running of residential care or nursing home/s for people who cannot live on their own in their own homes anymore for a variety of reasons such as their age, an illness or physical or learning disabilities and mental health issues or advanced stages of dementia or family or behaviour problems. The work involved will depend on the number and type of residents/service users being catered for, but in general your main responsibilities would be the preparation of management and financial plans and reports for the future development of the care home/s. You would be responsible overall of organising the day to day running of the home to make sure that legal standards of service are achieved as laid down by the CQC and other legal remits.

You would be in charge of development and implementation of clear policies that will ensure good practice and guidelines laid down are met. You would overall be responsible for recruitment, training and day to day management of all care staff, ancillary workers and volunteers within the home or homes you are the registered manager. You would also be the overall person responsible for making sure preparation of developmental reports for all residents are correct and up to date to give the best care possible to the service user or to discuss with families and other health and care professionals within the remit of service users rights to confidentiality and data protection legislation. You would also be overall responsible for the budget control of the home/s.

You would also be overall responsible in liaising with doctors, social workers and other health professionals within the health sector. You would also be responsible overall for the smooth running of the home even when you were not there. You would also handle any complaints and emergency situations. You would also be expected to work shifts if needed and be on call to your staffing teams and sometimes live in if needed. To carry out this role and be an effective manager you will have to have the skill set where you are able to organise and motivate other. You must be able to manage and plan budgets and other financials in regards to the home/s you are responsible for. You must have the skill to be assertive when needed and able to manage your staff and others correctly and fairly. You must be a resourceful person who is good at solving solutions to problems you will be faced with on a day to day basis.

You must always be able to be positive, enthusiastic and energetic at all times as you are the overall person in charge as the registered manger of the home/s and keep calm and collective at all times or to any situation that might occur. If you wanted to be a Residential Manager you would of had at least two years supervisory or management experience in a care setting possibly as a deputy Manager and have undertaken considerable on the job training as well as attended specialist courses relating to your chosen area of care and you will be qualified to a minimum of a level 4 in Health & Social Care.

You may also be qualified to degree level in social work or have a nursing, occupational therapy qualification as well as a recognised registered manager’s award, now called a Leadership Management award As a Deputy or Assistant Residential Manager you would carry out all the same duties as the residential manager and support them with most of the above tasks and may be given responsibility for specific functions such as; preparation of work rotas, induction training, volunteer training, preparation of progress reports, wages and compiling person centred care plans as some of your duties in helping run the home. You would have experience in a care setting, perhaps with some supervisory responsibilities and have undertaken on the job training as well as attended specialist courses relating to your chosen area of care and either have or be working towards a level 4 qualification in Health and Social care and or leadership Management award.

Day Centre Manager Day centre managers provide support and stimulation for older people in day care centres. Encouraging and supporting people to get involved in a range of activities. Day Centre Managers will be experienced who may have first become day centre supervisors or team leaders, looking after the supervision and training of day centre workers before becoming responsible for the running of a day centre. As the Day Centre Manager you will be responsible for running of the centre and delivering the highest standards of care and safety to service users.

Overall you would be responsible for the planning, development and implementation of relevant programmes of care and the assessment of specifics conditions and requirements needed for those using the centre. You would oversee all staff issues and development as well as being responsible for the financial and management issues related to running a successful day care centre. You must have experience working with older people holding supervisory/management responsibilities in past job titles. You will also be expected to be qualified to a Level 4 standard or have a Level 3 qualification alongside a recognised supervisory/management qualification or equivalent.

Nursing – A career I would like to potentially pursue once I have gained the entry level requirements After now working in a health and social care setting for nearly three years after choosing a career path rather than the customer focused sales jobs I have held down since leaving college around 18 years ago, I have found the change very rewarding in satisfaction but I want to progress further. I have a dream of hopefully over the next 4 – 5 years or before I am 42 years of age of becoming a nurse. I recently moved and have now taken up a position as a community carer delivering care into persons own homes, which I am currently enjoying.

The previous two and half years I worked in a residential nursing home making my way up to a lead care manager. I worked a lot alongside the Wellness team (Nurses) helping carry out medication rounds on a day to day basis and supporting them in caring out wellness checks such as taking blood pressures etc. I found working alongside the nursing team convincing me further that this is where I would like to see myself progressing, even know I am now 36 years of age. While working alongside the nursing team they all said if possible I should train to be a nurse as they all felt I had the right mind set and compassionate nature to become a nurse. My motto is you should keep learning and gaining new knowledge everyday of your life and it’s never too late to realise your dreams so I am going to do my best to reach this goal by the time I am 42 years of age while also supporting my family and current first child who has now just turned one as best as I possibly can.

Nurses work in every health setting from A&E to working in other parts of a hospital or out in the community in nursing homes or schools or peoples own homes with people from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds from many different cultures and religions. The largest group of staff that work for the NHS are actually nurses so there would be plenty of scope for areas for me to work and areas to specialise myself in once qualified as a registered nurse.

You can start as a Health care assistant with no qualifications and then progress by gaining the relevant experience and qualifications to become a recognised registered nurse and then there is scope to rise up the ranks to manage teams, run wards and even reach a consultant level in chosen specialised areas. Below are some areas of nursing you can be. Adult nurses / Mental Health Nurses / Childrens nurses / District Nurse / Neonatal nurses / Health Visitors / Practise Nurse / School Nurse / Theatre Nurse. Out of the above I would either like to be an Adult Nurse, District Nurse or a Health visitor.

Adult Nurse As an Adult nurse you would work with old and young adults with diverse health conditions, both chronic and acute. You would juggle numerous priorities and use caring, counselling, managing, teaching and all aspects of interpersonal skills to improve the quality of patients’ lives, sometimes in difficult situations. You may work in a hospital ward, clinic or in a community setting and possibly work shifts to provide 24 hour care. As an adult nurse you can hold positions at most levels of the NHS framework if working within the NHS. You would work in the centre of a multi professional team that will include doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, radiographers, healthcare assistants and many other health professionals.

You would have close contact with patients and their families and you would have to be able to assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for individual patients and ensure consistency in recording and documenting service user’s progress or any change in their nursing and care needs. I could either be hospital based or out in the community, where more and more healthcare is being delivered currently. I would have to be able to work in a in a fast changing, demanding environment, being highly observant at all times so I am able to assess what is best for the patient and taking responsibility for their well-being is essential. I would also have to commit to further learning and training throughout my career as new knowledge is generally known and implemented as best practise towards a service users nursing needs.

District nurse District nurses visit people of all ages out in the community in peoples own homes, GP surgeries or a residential setting. Many patients are elderly, others may have disabilities, be recovering after a hospital stay, or have a terminal illness. You may do shift work to provide 24-hour care. You will work one-to-one with patients on an on-going basis, which enables you to develop a trusting relationship while you improve their quality of life. As a District Nurses I would be a crucial part of a primary health care team, visiting people in their own homes or in residential care homes, providing direct care to them and helping them care for themselves. I would also help support family members or friends by teaching them how to care for the service user.

By doing this I would be helping reduce hospital admissions and readmissions to a minimum and ensuring that patients can return to their own homes as soon as possible. I would be professionally accountable for delivery of their care and I could be looking after people of any age, but many of them will be elderly and people recently discharged from hospital or service users who are terminally or with physical disabilities. I may be working on my own visiting service users more than once a day or I could work closely with other groups providing care, by helping and co-ordinating a range of care services so the service user is cared for correctly and has access to the support they need. I would have to be a qualified and registered nurse and will need to undertake a further District nurse training programme, known as specialist practitioner programmes which are degree level.

This would normally be at least one year’s full time or part-time equivalent of study but can be completed in a shorter period of time where credit is given for prior learning or experience. Specialist practitioner programmes comprise 50% theory and 50% practice and concentrate on four areas: clinical nursing practice, care and programme management, care and programme management, clinical practice leadership.