What you need if you want to become a care worker

There is much need for care workers in the UK. Many aspects of social care have moved out of the NHS and the population is getting older as we live longer. The umbrella of care work covers many areas:

  • Supporting the medical and clinical staff in hospitals
  • Nursing and residential homes for the elderly
  • Hospices and respite homes
  • Children’s homes
  • Residential homes for the disabled
  • Palliative care performed in patients’ homes
  • Live-in care
  • Working with vulnerable adults and children

What Qualifications are Needed?

There are no specific qualifications to start a career in care work. Many care workers start a qualification once in work or they decided to specialise in a particular area of healthcare. The main qualifications are

  • NVQ in Health and Social Care, Levels 2 and 3
  • Any related nursing or medical qualification or degree

There are also online courses and some first aid training is usually expected although that can be undertaken once in employment. There may also be a need for some training in food hygiene and safety, and health and safety, and there may be a need for a medical check.

Some institutions may require some qualification for positions beyond entry level, but essentially, most care giving organisations will look more at the values and aptitude of an applicant in the first instance. A care worker needs a passion to help people on a daily basis without any prejudice to skin colour, age, disability, or issues they face. The sense of social sensitivity and respect of others is essential, as is the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, to be tactful, to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude, and to be able to work well both as an individual or in a team.  An excellent understanding of health, cleanliness, and safety is essential but overall, it is all rounded up to a want to help people to live the best life they can.

Although there is no barrier to entry to working in health care from a qualification standpoint, all care workers are required to undergo a DBS test.

What is DBS?

The Disclosing and Barring Service is a disclosure to a future employer of an employee’s criminal record. Previously known as a different name, this CRB check uses the Police National Computer to identify convictions, cautions, warnings, and charges (waiting for a court date) of individuals.  It is also usual for care workers for children and the elderly, that the Adult and Children Barred list is screened at the same time as the criminal records check is run. Sometimes the local police are consulted to identify if there are any incidents or offences where the individual was not charged.

There is a cost to requesting a DBS check which is paid by the employer (although an individual can request a self-check via the government website) and the employer must obtain the consent of the person being searched.