The care sector is growing. People are its most valuable asset and investment in their development is being fuelled by an ageing population, people with higher levels of need living independently in the community and a growing demand for specialist skills. Employers are reacting to changes by offering their employees a wider range of training, the chance to gain new qualifications and structured career paths.
Mike Osborne is Operations Director for Care UK’s Community Services division, which provides almost 120,000 hours of homecare every week to more than 12,000 older people and over 500 people with learning disabilities in their own homes.
Every year Mike’s team recruits hundreds of compassionate, hard working people to deliver top quality support to people in their own homes. He believes there are four qualities someone requires to be a good care or support worker. “Compassion, patience, a willingness to listen and a determination to deliver a service that helps people to live the life they want to lead. People with these qualities have the opportunity for a rewarding career with us.” he said.
“Many people choose to pursue a career as a care or support worker because they want to make a difference to people’s lives.” Mike continued. “There are so many highs. Seeing the look on someone’s face that tells you you’ve helped them to achieve their wish is very satisfying, whether that person wanted to learn to ride a horse, visit family and friends or take a long soak in the bath.
“It’s these moments which provide real job satisfaction regardless of whether someone is working at a large organisation such as Care UK or volunteering at a charity or community group.” Mike said.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not always an easy job to do. “The highs far outweigh the lows but society’s poor attitude towards carers and support workers is very sad. People don’t seem to value their excellent work or vital role they play in people’s lives. This is a shame because without them so many vulnerable people would find life so much more difficult.” Mike said.
Due to the nature of the job it’s crucial that checks are in place to ensure care workers are providing a good standard of care and Care UK operates a particularly rigorous set as Mike explains: “There are a number of rigorous checks in place to maintain high standards of care. Our recruitment process includes checking full employment history, a CRB check which is renewed every three years, references for the past three years of employment and the collection of documents such as visas and work permits which prove an applicant’s right to work in the UK. Furthermore, day-to-day supervision, regular training and inspections by the Care Quality Commission ensure high standards are maintained on an ongoing basis.”
According to Mike, the sky’s the limit for people who wish to develop their skills and experience, with structured career progression and the chance to gain new qualifications resulting in management opportunities for people who want to pursue that route. At Care UK these range from managing a team of support workers to training to become a manager of a brand new state-of-the-art care home.
“My colleague Tony Weedon joined us 21 years ago as a chef and he’s now one of our top senior managers in our residential care division. His hard work, drive, willingness to move around the country and taking advantage of the many training opportunities on offer means he now has responsibility for around 40 care homes and delivery of a programme of new home openings.” Mike said.
But it’s not just people’s aspirations which are contributing to changes in the job market. The UK’s changing demographic characteristics and an increasing emphasis on quality are another two factors which indicate good prospects for care and support workers.
“People are living longer and the need for care is growing. The support of a carer isn’t something which people just require towards the very end of their lives; it could be needed for decades. Also, the social care sector is changing. There are many training opportunities to meet the demand for professionally qualified people such as nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and managers.” Mike said.
“I believe the outlook is promising for compassionate and hard working people looking to develop their expertise and skills. Care UK has achieved some great successes and we have many job opportunities in communities across the UK, all of which can be found on our careers website.” Mike concludes.
To find out more about working at Care UK visit its careers website where you can also search for jobs by location or sector.