Is a Career in Social Care Right for You?

career in social care

The social care sector is an incredibly popular field to work in. Social care encompasses a variety of different roles and methods of working. If you are curious about what different types of social care there are and if a career in social care might be the right choice for you, this guide will explain the basics of what you need to know about the field.

What is Social Care?

Social care is a wide-ranging field involving providing various types of support to people who need it. Support may be purely physical, such as pushing a wheelchair or carrying out daily tasks for an individual with a physical disability. In other cases, support may be emotional or social, such as offering conversation to isolated elderly people. In some cases, both physical and emotional support is needed to support people and help them live their daily lives to a high standard and level of dignity.

Social care workers can work with people in their homes or in supported housing or residential homes. Usually, social care involves working with adults, most of whom suffer from some form of disability or health condition that would otherwise limit their ability to live a full life. Social care generally refers to supporting people with non-medical needs, although there is a crossover with working in health care. 

Millions of people work in social care in the US, and this number is constantly increasing, possibly as a result of an aging population.

Benefits of a Career in Social Care

Working in social care can be very difficult; however, there are reasons why it is such a popular career path.

Most social care workers report that their work leaves them feeling fulfilled as they feel useful and needed and see first-hand the benefits they provide and the differences they make to people’s lives. Social care is not like working in a factory being part of a production line but never seeing the fruit of your efforts — it is working up close with the people you are helping!

Although depending on the guidelines and codes of conduct of the company that you work for, you may not be able to socialize outside of working hours with certain people you support (usually vulnerable people with mental disabilities), social care can lead to making great friends. Working alongside colleagues can help build bonds due to shared values and experiences, and you may end up caring for people with fascinating stories and perspectives.

Social care is usually less difficult to get into than other career paths. The qualifications needed tend to be less than other jobs and can often be gained during training. 

Challenges of a Career in Social Care

Despite the low barriers to entry compared with other career paths, social care is not easy. There are many tasks that can be challenging, physically as well as emotionally. You may have to clean and cook for people who are unable to do these tasks for themselves. You may have to help wash people, help them to the toilet, and clean them up afterward. 

The emotional demands can also be high. You may have people relying on you to stay helpful, caring, and level-headed for them however you may be feeling yourself. You may have to deal with people having emotional meltdowns or even becoming verbally or physically confrontational. Learning how to deal with these situations can be difficult and require a lot of emotional strength.

What Different Social Care Jobs Are There?

There are a variety of job roles that come under the social care umbrella. These include:

  • Direct Care: Direct care roles are those that involve directly caring for people, either in a care home or visiting their home if they live independently. These roles include working as an advocate for those unable to advocate for themselves, helping people rehabilitate from illnesses or accidents, and organizing activities and entertainment for people in care.
  • Social Care Support: There are also supporting roles in social care. These roles include providing advice as a Welfare Rights Officer and working in training other care workers. Trainer, Assessor, HR worker, Volunteer Co-ordinator, and Administrator are all roles within social care support. Roles such as Administrator often require qualifications, so if you are wondering where to find an RCFE administrator certificate, there are various providers available online.
  • Ancillary Roles: Social care organizations have many tasks that need to be done to ensure the smooth running of operations. Roles such as a Kitchen Assistant, Housekeeper, Driver, or Maintenance Worker are all known as “ancillary” roles and are vital components of the social care sector.
  • Managerial Roles: Any organization needs management to keep it running. Social care management roles include Supervisor, Team Leader, Manager, and Specialist Co-ordinator. Being a social care manager requires knowledge of management skills as well as the other skills needed to work in care.

What Characteristics Make a Good Care Worker?

There are many characteristics and personal traits that mean that you may be suited to a career in care. The most important (and probably the most obvious) is being a caring person. Considering care workers spent the majority of their working day helping people with various tasks, having a generally caring nature is essential.

In addition to being caring, there are other traits that are very useful to have when working in care. Care workers usually need to be very patient and understanding, and not express frustration when somebody that they are caring for struggles with a task. Care workers also often need to have good time management skills, as they will need to be able to get to work on time, often at traditionally “unsociable” hours. 

A high tolerance for tasks usually seen as unpleasant (for example, cleaning toilets) is usually needed for working in care, especially if carrying out personal care such as helping bathe people or take them to the toilet. A good understanding of health and safety procedures is also vital.

Being level-headed and pragmatic is an indispensable skill for a care worker to have. Especially if working with people with mental disabilities or conditions such as severe autism, being able to calm down situations without panicking is often needed. Emotional maturity is vital when working in care.

For most people, a career in social care is challenging but highly rewarding.