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A rise in need for provision of care has resulted in plenty of care home jobs being created in the past few years. So if you’re considering embarking on a career in care or want to know which type of position will suit you best, it’s a good idea to know your prospective role inside out to determine whether it’s right for you or not.
Here we explore the option of working in a care home and offer tips and advice for anyone looking to apply for care home jobs.
There are several types of care home jobs you can choose from. If you’re looking to occupy a caregiver role, responsibilities vary depending on how senior a position you are in. Mostly however duties include:
Care homes can roughly be split into two categories – residential homes and nursing homes.
Residential homes are more appropriate for those with lower level care needs, whereas nursing homes employ more specialist staff to deal with more intensive care needs.
Both have very similar staff and as a result a range of roles are available, from care assistants and cleaners up to nurses and floor managers.
Which type of care home jobs you apply for will depend on what you are comfortable with and what type of care you’re interested in. Residential care may involve service users who are more responsive and chatty, whilst nursing care requires a more medical approach and could be more challenging.
Care homes are large organisations which run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that lots of staff are required to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that residents are properly cared for – so there are often a large number of care home jobs available at any given time, making them a popular choice for many. There are various roles to apply for within a nursing home, but a few of the most common include:
If you are working as a care giver you may be a:
All caregiving roles require some training and experience, as well as a warm, friendly personality, can-do attitude and good communication skills.
Nursing homes require qualified nurses to be part of their care teams.
A nurse in a nursing home is responsible for taking care of residents’ medical needs and completing observations and assessments of individuals’ health, as well as sometimes overseeing the care given by other members of the team and advising on appropriate treatment.
Nurses are also sometimes required to deal with unexpected illness or emergencies, and will generally be the ‘first port of call’ before a more senior healthcare professional is called upon, either for a referral or urgent attention.
There are managers at differing levels and in various capacities in a nursing home.
Smaller nursing homes may only have one or two levels of management, for instance the directors and one home manager beneath.
In larger establishments there may be more managerial levels – with managers or overseeing different vital elements such as kitchen, accounts, nursing and even activities and events.
Sometimes nursing staff occupy a managerial role on their floor or within their care team simultaneously.
Reception staff are often forgotten but are an important part of a nursing home’s staff, as they often take on a variety of important admin tasks as well as answering the phone and meeting and greeting family members and other visitors.
Sometimes reception desks need to be manned 24 hours a day for security reasons, so those occupying these roles may be required to work weekends, evenings and night shifts.
Reception and general admin roles can often be applied for with little or no experience.
Good quality meals are a vital element in the success of a nursing home – as without proper nutrition, residents can’t be cared for properly.
The preparation of food is often taken care of by dedicated kitchen staff, but often the meals themselves are distributed by care assistants who may also feed the residents depending on how great their care needs are. The nature of a nursing home means that food needs to be prepared in a particular way and will cater for specific health requirements.
Cleanliness and good hygiene in a nursing home is paramount – so the cleaning team really are one of its most important assets, even though this is a role which is often overlooked.
As a cleaner working in a nursing home you will be required to maintain a high level of cleanliness and hygiene in an environment which is ever-changing – where often challenging healthcare needs can dictate that areas need cleaning much more frequently.
The importance of eliminating germs and dirt in the areas in which vulnerable residents live and eat cannot be underestimated of course – as they are more susceptible to the bugs and viruses which could kill without proper hygiene.
There will be measures in place for infection prevention (such as sharps bins, clinical waste bags and aprons, gloves) and whilst care givers will clear away appropriately you will be expected to come into contact with bodily fluids and clean up in the event of a medical incident or accident.
If you have worked as a cleaner in a hospital or GP surgery you should have plenty of relevant experience for a similar role in a nursing home – however if you haven’t yet worked as a cleaner in the care industry you may require additional training.
Each position naturally has varying responsibility attached, with different associated salaries, hours and additional benefits. Which you apply for depends on your experience, what interests you and what you are qualified to do. You can find out more about working as a care assistant or health care assistant on this site.
Not all care home jobs require formal qualifications or experience. However both are preferential when applying for care home jobs – especially if you plan to progress further at a later date.
A BTEC or A Level in Health and Social Care or Sociology may be useful, but other additional courses like First Aid or Childcare demonstrate that you have a keen, genuine interest in the care industry.
For nursing positions and healthcare assistant roles necessary qualifications will be required – although you can decide to complete these at a later date. Some employers allow you to train as you earn on an apprenticeship or education at work basis, and they may even partially fund your further education if appropriate.
At a basic level you’ll need to be able to demonstrate good communications skills and be able to work as part of a team as well as independently. Basic literacy and numeracy skills will also be important, as you may be required to write reports and make notes to monitor residents’ progress. You’ll also need to complete a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for security purposes.
If you don’t have any previous experience you could consider volunteering. This is an excellent way to gain relevant experience – and it’ll look great on your CV. You can find volunteering opportunities online with charities or on sites such as Volunteering England and Do It.
Care home jobs aren’t for everyone. They can be challenging and require a person who is patient and caring, yet hardworking and prepared to go the extra mile for the people they look after. You should consider the following when deciding whether a job in a care home is for you:
Personal care: You will need to be comfortable in dealing with the personal care needs of residents. This includes toileting, feeding, dressing and washing.
Strenuous work: If you have any health problems of your own then care home jobs might not be suitable for you. You may be required to lift and assist with mobility (pushing wheelchairs, supporting residents physically) – this may not be possible if you have existing medical issues.
Unsociable hours: Care homes are run round the clock – so shift patterns often include nights, early mornings and weekends, as well as bank holidays. If you have other responsibilities (such as family commitments) you’ll need to make sure that this is possible for you. Part-time hours can be available, but often these incorporate the same shifts as full-time contracts.
Progression opportunities will depend on the type of role you occupy, the company you work for and the establishment you work within.
Often you can progress to a management position as care or nursing staff within the care home. You could also look to complete a nursing or healthcare assistant qualification, both of which attract higher pay and could result in further progression opportunities.
If you don’t feel that a care home is the right environment for you to work in, but still want to work in the care industry, then there are alternatives to care home jobs. These include:
Starting your search online with dedicated jobs forums and sites (like the UK Care Guide Jobs Board) can cut your job-hunting time significantly. Here you’ll be able to find care home jobs in all in one place, so you can apply simultaneously and don’t need to sift through irrelevant search results.
Normally vacancies are also advertised on the corresponding company website, for example Bupa or Sunrise. You can usually find latest vacancies under the ‘Careers’ tab. Most websites now allow you to apply online and upload your CV.
The other, and potentially easiest option, would be to upload your CV to our site. Potential employers can then look at your CV and contact you directly.
Here’s also a useful video that sets out some useful tips on writing a CV to help you apply for care home jobs.
Bear in mind your personal motivation when applying for care home jobs. It’s a good idea to adapt your CV slightly, tailoring it to each individual job. You may have relevant experience for one position which isn’t quite as important for another.
Read each job description carefully and cut out any information you don’t feel is necessary. You can then replace it with anything which may give you an edge over other candidates. Just remember not to hand in pages and pages of text – keep it short and format it so that it is easy to read and to view your most vital information.
Also be sure to include all relevant experience, qualifications and credentials to ensure that your CV really stands out.
For further advice on care home jobs you can take a look at the National Careers Service website for your chosen position, or for healthcare assistant positions or nursing jobs you can find further information here on the UK Care Guide website.
Some care providers also have testimonials from staff, so you can see what it’s really like to work in a care home and have a better idea of what to expect.