On any given day there are around 110,000 vacancies for care workers in the UK. Choosing to become a carer means you’ll be helping to meet the country’s growing demand for home care. As it stands there are already 1.4 million older people in the UK whose care needs are not being met, according to Age UK.
What is required to become a carer in the UK?
You do not require any formal qualifications or training to be hired as a carer in the UK as training is provided by your care agency, often alongside workplace shadowing. However, there are certain skills that will make you stand out as a good candidate for home care jobs. While experience in the care sector is desirable, it is far from necessary as the skills that make a good carer can often be developed through other work and life experience.
Skills for home care
At Saga Care at Home, we provide clients with visiting and live-in care through our vast network of trusted, capable carers. We know what it takes to excel in home care jobs. In this blog, we’ve distilled our findings into 8 key questions to ask yourself before you pursue a career in home care:
Are you observant?
Elderly clients are more prone to changes in their physical or mental health over a short period of time. However, they may not always speak up about these changes. A good carer needs to pick up on early signs of deterioration, whether it’s changes in a client’s mood, appetite or general behaviour.
Are you a hands-on and practical person?
A big part of home care is helping clients with personal hygiene, such as going to the bathroom and changing wound dressings. Carers, therefore, shouldn’t have an aversion to bodily fluids and functions. They should also take a practical approach to these tasks so that their clients are not made to feel awkward or embarrassed.
Do you have a positive attitude?
Depression affects a quarter of people aged over 65 and many elderly clients will experience low moods. A carer can make a real difference by lifting their mood with a positive approach and upbeat manner. A positive attitude also makes it easier to win over clients who may be uncooperative about eating, bathing or taking their medication.
Are you empathetic and caring?
For any kind of longevity in the care industry, carers must have a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Clients can easily detect when a carer is truly motivated to do their job and this forms the basis of a trusting client-carer relationship. What’s more, as ageing is a challenging process, with tasks that were once easy becoming more difficult, an empathetic outlook and ability to see things from the client’s perspective will make it easier to cater to their needs.
Are you a patient person?
Elderly clients face daily physical and emotional challenges, which can make completing the simplest of tasks taxing and frustrating. A patient carer can encourage and support clients through these daily challenges. Patience becomes even more important when caring for clients with dementia, where frustration, confusion and forgetfulness are more common. There is a growing need for dementia care at home with 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia today, a figure set to rise to over 1 million by 2025.
Are you dependable and organised?
Clients rely on their carers to help them live a more fulfilling life. Meeting this responsibility requires that carers always carry out their work in a consistent, professional manner, arrive on time and are dependable. It also takes organisational skills to keep a client’s household running smoothly and look out for their wellbeing, whether it's ensuring medication is taken on time or bills are paid.
Do you have good communication and listening skills?
Care jobs are all about clear communication, listening and talking to clients, their families and allied healthcare professionals. Carers need to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues to better engage with their clients and therefore meet their changing physical and emotional needs.
Are you flexible?
The needs of every client are different and subject to change depending on their mental and physical state. This requires the ability to be flexible and accommodate changes to their routine to safeguard their wellbeing.
If you’ve found yourself answering yes to many of these questions, then working in the home care industry may be a good fit for you. At Saga Care at Home, we provide comprehensive training and support to all of our carers. What matters the most to us is that you really do care and are enthusiastic about learning to become a carer.