Working with older people can mean getting involved with anything from social care projects and nursing, to creating marketing campaigns to raise awareness for a charity. The common belief is that older people in Britain deserve better. If you want to put these beliefs into action, a career working for a suitable charity could be just for you. After all, we’re all going to be older people one day!
How can I start?
One of the main reasons people go in to this area of work is simply because they have a genuine passion for helping older people. You can’t enter a field of work like this half-heartedly – no siree! It’s therefore important to be able to dedicate as much of yourself to the role as possible.
To show your dedication and to forge an eventual career, it’s a good idea to get involved with volunteering early on. Even if you don’t have a lot of time during your studies, the odd day here and there can put you head and shoulders above other candidates when applying for a permanent role. It displays initiative and commitment to the cause, whilst also showing that you have an actual passion for your career choice.
What can I do to help older people?
One of the more common roles that people pursue when working with older people is that of a social worker. For this, you’ll need to be forever patient, kind-hearted and professional.
Sometimes you may come up against resistance from the older people you are working with: they may be antagonistic and impervious to your help; at times, they might even be aggressive and violent. This can be for a number of reasons. For instance, they might be suffering from Alzheimer’s or they may have previously experienced maltreatment or neglect. Be prepared!
You’re going need to be able to adapt your approach to staging care interventions in accordance with the specific needs of each service user. Instead of becoming a social worker, you could look into becoming a specialist nurse for older people. To take this route, you will need to study for a relevant nursing qualification and have a valid NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) Pin number.
Older people charities, such as Age UK, offer the whole range of charity careers. You could use your marketing skills and get involved with the campaigning, communications and marketing side of things. You could use your organisational talents and take on an administrative role.
You could kick off by getting involved as a volunteer, before moving into a volunteer coordinator position. Alternatively, you could use your research skills to help influence policies on social care and support for older people.
If you’ve got a good heart, a caring nature, a sympathetic spirit and some thick skin, a career looking after older people may be just right for you.