Making a career change can be daunting, but working in social care can be a great choice, if you are looking for a stable career in a growing industry. You’ll probably find that you already have the transferable skills for care work, and it can be a flexible job with opportunities for career progression.
You don’t have to start working in social care straight out of school. Lots of carers had other jobs previously or came to a career in care later in life after a career break. Maybe you’ve been a carer for a relative or friend, and now want to make a career out of it.
At Cera, we have many carers who have previously worked in other sectors, including hospitality, retail, the military, travel and customer service.
During 2020-2021 lots of people have needed to make a career change. We’ve seen plenty of sectors struggle, and people with jobs that looked secure were furloughed – or even lost their job altogether. Care workers are key workers, and it’s a job that will never be made redundant.
In fact, care is a growing industry. With an increasing number of people living longer, and more and more older people wanting to continue living at home, home Care Assistants have never been more in demand.
And it’s a job that has a real impact. You get to see the people you’re helping every day and know that you’re making a difference in their lives.
Jobs in care can take you places. If you don’t want to be a Care Assistant long term, there are career progression opportunities. Lots of carers go on to become care managers, administrators, nurses… the list goes on!
It’s a flexible job. Whether you’re looking for full or part-time hours, want to work days, evenings or nights, there’s bound to be a job in care with the right hours for you.
You don’t need qualifications to make a career change to working in care. Whether you’ve been a carer for 20 years, are looking for a new career at 50 or have never worked before, you’ll be able to learn as you work. There are plenty of transferable skills for care work that you can highlight in your CV to get started.
Transferable skills are skills that aren’t job-specific. They’re the kind of skills and abilities that you use across every job you’ll ever have, as well as in everyday life. You’ve probably got more of them than you realise!
If you’re writing a CV for the first time or rewriting your CV as part of your career change to apply for care jobs, you’ll want to focus on some of the most desirable transferable skills for care.
Have you ever had to juggle dropping kids at school and racing back home for a boiler service before taking the dog to the vet, going to the Post Office and picking the kids up again? If so, your time management skills are probably spot on!
Working in care, you’ll need to be organised and reliable. You might have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
People will rely on you to help them get up in the morning, help with their medication, prepare their meals, and do many more essential tasks.
If you’re good at thinking on your feet, this is a huge advantage as a carer.
You might work the same hours and visit the same service users each day, but you’ll learn that no two days in care are the same. You might need to make quick decisions to help a service user. Whether that’s doing some sudden cleaning, being a shoulder to cry on or calling the emergency services, you’ll need to think fast.
Are you always the first person to notice when a friend has a new hairstyle or the first to notice when someone seems a little under the weather?
You might be one of the only people who see a service user each day. Because of that, it’s important that you’re able to notice changes in their condition – and raise them with their family or other healthcare professionals if necessary.
You’ll also need to notice any changes in their environment that might impact their safety. Is the floor too cluttered to easily move around? Is the heating working correctly? Your observations are key in keeping people safe and well.
A good carer should be a great listener and understand what their service users need. Some of the people you help might not be able to speak easily, but you’ll need to be patient and encouraging.
You might be the only person that a service user sees that day. Talking and listening can be just as important as personal care for people who are feeling isolated.
Some days you’ll find yourself singing Top 40 hits while serving lunch and others you might be quietly holding someone’s hand while they take their first unaided steps in months.
Being compassionate and empathetic is the most important part of being a Care Assistant. Everyone wants to know that someone is listening to them and understands. And this is even more important when people are vulnerable or isolated.
A really important aspect of being a Care Assistant is making sure that your clients feel listened to and treated with respect and sometimes, our carers may be faced with agitated or upset service users.
So if you’ve worked in a customer-facing role previously, you will likely have had to deal with complaint handling and learning how to respond to people in a calm and sensitive manner - even when they are not doing so in return. This previous customer service experience will help you navigate difficult situations when working in a caring environment.
Watch Gareth's story about his change of career from Chef to Care Assistant.