Adult social care is all about providing personal and practical support to help people live their lives. It’s about supporting them to maintain their independence, dignity and control.
There are lots of different job roles available in this sector, including front line staff who work directly with people who have support needs and people who specialise in areas such as dementia or learning disabilities. More senior roles include managing services, leading teams and planning support. There are also non-traditional care roles such as chefs, maintenance and administration roles.
Moreover, the sector is continuing to grow – adult social care currently employs 1.63 million people, and by 2025 it’s estimated another one million workers will be needed. If you’re looking for a rewarding career with high job security, then a graduate job in adult social care is for you.
You’ll be supporting people of all ages, from someone in their late teens who may have a disability, through to older people who may have a range of complex needs.
No matter what job you do in the sector, whether you work hands on as a care worker; as a technician developing equipment to support users; or as a therapist assessing conditions and designing activities, you’re working to improve the quality of a person’s life.
There are also personal assistants (PAs) in adult social care, who work directly with an individual (usually from their home) for all of their support needs, rather than a number of people in, say, a residential home.
The amount of people living longer is growing, and advancements in technology and medicine mean that people with a disability are also living longer and have more socially enabled lives. This means demand for more workers in the sector.
No two days in adult social care are the same; you could be going shopping, doing a sporting activity, taking a day trip somewhere or helping someone come to terms with their disability by listening to their worries. The fact that social care is needed 24/7 also means you can choose a working pattern which suits your circumstances, without being tied down to the fixed nine-to-five office hours.
To work in the sector you’ve got to be passionate about making a positive difference to someone’s life. You’ve got to enjoy working with other people, and be able to show compassion and listening skills.
It’s a job in which 96% of people working in the sector said they felt their work made a difference.
If you’re new to adult social care, then there are a few different ways to get into the sector, depending on what job you think you might like to do.
Apprenticeships in the sector are a very popular way for people to gain qualifications and get first-hand experience. Employers primarily employ staff based on their values and attitudes – so it all comes down to your personality and willingness to learn.
An apprenticeship would provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to be a confident care worker. If you wish, you can also earn qualifications to move up the career ladder. You can progress to a Higher Apprenticeship which is equivalent to the second year at Higher Education level. You could then take your study even further and gain a degree qualification.
A care-related degree would enable you to work in specialist areas such as occupational therapy, social work or as a senior support worker.
It is possible to go straight into the sector with few qualifications in an entry-level role such as a care assistant or support worker, but getting some qualifications and training behind you will really help you with your confidence, as well as enhance your career progression prospects and skills.
For further information, visit www.skillsforcare.org/icare, where you can find out more information about working in adult social care and use the career pathways e-tool to see which job role might suit you best.