Staff shortages in care homes for adults are huge and there are many opportunities for jobs and career advancement in the field of social care.
The lifting of work restrictions at the start of this year has made employment as caregivers (care workers or care assistants) in institutions for the elderly an attractive option for Bulgarians and Romanians.
Self-employed workers are not eligible for such jobs so thus far it has been quite difficult if not impossible for Bulgarians and Romanians to be hired without the required work authorisation.
Thanks to full access of Bulgarians and Romanians to the labour market, perhaps some of those who are already here will redirect to this activity, as will others who are considering coming to the UK to seek their fortune, not only from Bulgaria or Romania.
Caregivers help people who have difficulty in their daily activities – people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or elderly dementia. If you like to help people and want to change their lives for the better, maybe this is the right job for you.
The shortage of staff in care homes for adults is large and has many opportunities for jobs and career advancement. This sector currently employs 1.5 million workers. By 2025 in England their number is expected to increase by more than 1 million.
Requirements and how to look for work
There are no specific requirements for the “carer” profession. In order to apply for a job, however, you need a basic knowledge of spoken and written English. Previous experience as a caregiver or a similar role in the field of social care is also a plus.
In your CV and cover letter it is very important to mention any experience you have had in the social field, however small it is. For the employer, it is important to know that you have interest in this profession. For example, if you had to take care of a family member or someone else you know and have performed duties similar to those listed in the job description it is a good idea to point it out in your application.
Ideal Applicants for employment agencies and nursing homes are those who possess second or third degree NVQ qualifications in Health and Social Care (NVQ Level 2 or 3 in Health & Social Care). If you do not have such a qualification, your job application will still be taken in consideration as many employers provide successful candidates with courses or training required for the job.
One way to look for a job is to call agencies that recruit workers in this field. Very often you will find that they need caregivers. Since there are no specific requirements for the job, call the agency and see what they say.
Some of them provide training before hiring candidates, while others do not offer training and courses without at least 6 months experience. Therefore, the first question they will usually ask you is whether you have experience. And this is one of the first problems that you may encounter. If your answer is "No", some of them will tell you that you have to go to college for a few months to get the necessary qualifications and recommend that you contact your local Job Centre. This perhaps will sound a little despairing, if you planned on starting to work soon.
Hopefully, instead, they will tell you that they offer training and one week after you finish, you will be offered a job at the agency. For this purpose you have to pay a certain amount (e.g. £210), which includes tuition and the mandatory criminal record certificate, which you must have in order to start work.
Answers may vary, so contact several to choose the agency that best suits your situation. Remember that if you work for an agency, you have to be willing to be sent to different places every time. For example, one day you might work with people with physical disabilities, and the other with people with dementia. If you want to find out if there are vacancies in your area, you can contact your local Jobcentre Plus or visit the website Universal Jobmatch – GOV.UK
Another option is to call the home where you would like to apply for a job directly. You can go and check for vacancies there. If there is no current vacancy for caregivers, they might ask you for volunteer work, through which you can gain experience. (You can find the names and contact details of various homes in your area you at www.carehome.co.uk).
Very often, if you have no experience and need to acquire one, job seekers in the social sphere begin voluntary (Volunteering). Generally voluntary work is highly valued by employers in the UK. It is enough to volunteer one day a week, as a period of several weeks, but during that time acquire the skills necessary for the job you want. It is also important that you get advice that your new employer will require. Voluntary work can be found in most social homes by going on-site or contacting charitable companies in your local area. This may be done by Do-it website or other English volunteering websites.
What questions should you expect at the interview?
To avoid any surprises, you should be prepared for the interview. Questions will be asked about yourself, your experience and on the job. Here are some questions that they are likely to ask you.
– Tell us about yourself?
– How would your previous experience help you become a carer?
– What steps would you take to encourage a patient you are caring for to participate in different activities?
– How do you know when a patient is not well and what would you do?
– Why is it important to participate in some training courses?
– What is your understanding of SOVA (Safeguarding of vulnerable adults)?
During the interview they will probably expect you to demonstrate your understanding of “person centred care” – i.e. care that focuses on the personal needs of the individual, his or her desires and goals, so for them to become the basis of the care provided.
More information on job interviews for a caregiver can be found on www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk.
What personal qualities and skills will you need to show?
Many employers require that you have good communication skills and literacy to be able to enter data in individual care plans for clients. You must also prove that you understand the needs of the elderly, emotional and physical.
Patience, compassion, tact and humour are also important qualities, especially if you have to take care of people who refuse to admit that they need your help.
Criminal record checks
If you pass the interview, a criminal records check will be requested from DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). The check is mandatory for these kinds of jobs and helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable adults and children. For this purpose, you should definitely have a valid passport, National Insurance Number (NIN) and two proofs of address (e.g. bank statement of account for the last three months, water bills, electricity or gas bill, bill for a landline phone, etc.)
Your identity card may be used as further evidence of your identity, but a passport is required.
In most cases, you assume the cost (about £60), but it will be refunded to you after you work for a certain period of time.
The Certificate may be prepared in three days, but it may take a little more time – one to two weeks. Once the criminal record is ready and the recommendations made, you can start to work.
Working hours and pay
Caregiver jobs usually run between 35 and 40 hours a week, although there are opportunities for part-time. Payment varies between £12,000 £and 16,000 per year. If you present yourself well, participate in training courses, you can later climb the next level in the profession and become a Senior Care Assistant or Senior Care Officer. With experience and qualifications, your salary with additional obligations can be increased from £18,000 to £21,000.
Find out more about care jobs at www.skillsforcare.org.uk.
By Nikolina Kristeva