With an ageing population rapidly facilitating a growing care industry in the UK, the number of care companies (and jobs available within the sector) are increasing.
Home care in particular is experiencing rising popularity – and this means that there are a greater number of home care jobs available across the UK. This is because individuals and their families are increasingly turning to alternative ways of providing care and support without the need to leave or sell their home.
‘Home care’ can be used to describe any type of care given at home – so it includes a wide range of career paths and professions. If you’re passionate about caring for others and would like to work in the care industry, you’re sure to find a role to suit you in home care.
In this post we discuss what domiciliary care jobs involve, how jobs in home care can be applied for and share some tips and advice for anyone looking to start their career in home care.
Here is a great video that talks more about the type of role a home care giver will provide.
Previously nursing and residential homes were the only options available for elderly people and those with severe long-term illness or disability needing round the clock care.
However now homecare providers allow individuals with a range of care needs to stay in their own home either indefinitely or for a longer period of time before they do require residential care.
There are many reasons why homecare is preferential for many people – often familiar surroundings, close proximity to friends and family and bad press surrounding nursing homes make homecare a more attractive prospect.
The popularity of homecare has given rise to an increase in demand for domiciliary care jobs (also known as home care jobs). These are positions which can vary in terms of their hours, responsibilities and roles, but all involve taking care of someone in their own home.
This isn’t limited to the elderly – in fact lots of younger people with on-going health requirements or those with disabilities and learning difficulties can benefit from homecare.
Sometimes jobs in home care involve low-level intervention like companionship, housework and shopping, yet at the higher levels you may take on a nursing-orientated role, administering medication, washing and changing dressings. Therefore, there are a variety of jobs in home care that you could easily get involved with.
Careworker jobs are also open to a wide variety of individuals. This is because there are a number of roles with varying intensities, which fall under the ‘home care’ umbrella. You can be young or old, have plenty of experience or very little.
Often they can also be flexible which means they can be worked around existing family commitments and studying. This makes them the perfect ‘stepping stone’ for students looking to gain experience in the care industry and examining what careworker jobs are going to be right for them.
If you like to help others and meet new people, then there are a range of home help jobs which may suit you. Which you choose will depend on the hours you wish to work and the capacity you’re comfortable working in.
At lower levels anyone who likes to help out and provide companionship and assistance can apply for home help jobs, whilst those with qualifications and nursing experience may wish to apply for a more senior position.
Home help jobs may not be for you if you don’t wish to travel around, or if you would prefer to work in a more structured setting such as a hospital or nursing home. Some companies require car drivers, so this is also something to consider.
Your personal preference will dictate the type of domiciliary care jobs you wish to do – but there may also be limitations placed upon you because of your age or your own health. Some home help jobs require lifting, cleaning, dressing and other strenuous tasks, which you may not be able to carry out. If this is the case, you could consider companionship or choosing to work only with individuals who have less severe care needs.
Depending on your role and type of responsibilities involved in your position you may be required to work unsociable hours including evenings, weekends and overnight shifts – so you’ll need to ensure that any shift patterns proposed by your employer fit in with any existing responsibilities you have. There may also be certain qualifications you need to possess – these are detailed further in following sections.
Here is a great video where a care giver talks about what her daily routine involves.
As mentioned above, jobs in care can vary in nature. Which you choose will depend on your experience and qualifications, and which type of role you are personally comfortable with.
A lower level homecare assistant working with the elderly can expect to carry out tasks such as shopping, cleaning the house, walking pets, ensuring medication is taken and making meals.
A more advanced homecare role may also include washing, dressing and administering medication.
Homecare is also available for younger individuals and children with illness, disability or learning difficulties, either short-term, long-term or as palliative care. Additionally, jobs in home care are available working with individuals with a range of disability – for example those who are visually impaired or wheelchair bound.
In these instances you may be required to carry out everyday tasks, or you may be in a more senior role with greater responsibilities. A healthcare assistant can also provide palliative care in the event of terminal illness including cancer and MS – again the responsibilities involved in these instances can vary depending on your position and qualifications.
Bear in mind that as well as your basic duties, you’ll need to have great interpersonal and communication skills. It’s likely you’ll be liaising with family members and other healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses, as well as other homecare assistants.
You’ll need to report back to your employer about each visit, so you’ll also need good literacy skills to make accurate notes – and confidentiality will also be key.
If you’re working in your local community you’ll need to keep details of your work with individuals private and be respectful and sensitive at all times, using discretion where needed.
Jobs in home care are versatile as depending on the type of position most are flexible and can accommodate part-time and full-time hours.
Most jobs in care require round-the-clock availability – but as an individual you may be given a specific rota and might even be able to choose your own hours. This will depend on the company you work for – and if you work in a private capacity it will depend on the needs of your client.
For clients with greater needs requiring more intensive care you may be part of a shift pattern which involves multiple visits per day; normally in the morning and in the evening.
Some home care companies stipulate that each visit must last no longer than one or two hours, so you may visit several clients in one morning or evening.
If you’d like to be able to set your own hours or work part-time, look for homecare companies who specifically take on candidates such as yourself – often this is on a ‘bank’ basis. Bank workers will be required to work a minimum number of hours per month and usually only carry out basic tasks for clients. However with this type of work you may not see the same clients consistently depending on the size of the company you work for and the area covered.
The qualifications you’ll need will depend on the type of homecare position you wish to apply for. Roles which involve greater responsibility and some medical aspects (such as healthcare assistants, district nurses or higher level homecare assistant) will need some proof of previous experience. They may also require certain qualifications.
If you are new to homecare, then a BTEC qualification in Health and Social Care or similar course may give you an advantage over other candidates. Home care companies like to see that you are committed to the job and interested in the role – as due to the ‘ad-hoc’ nature of work offered by some agencies home care jobs sometimes attract casual workers.
It’s important to bear in mind that you are entering somebody’s home – and naturally clients may be nervous the first time they meet you. This is especially true if you are attending to personal care needs. You’ll need to be kind, friendly and trustworthy – as security often is also a concern for individuals and their families.
Whether you have the chance to build relationships with those you look after or not, a smile and positive personality is essential when carrying out your duties as a homecare assistant. If you feel you’d struggle to do this or feel anxious meeting and dealing with new people then a homecare job may not be suitable for you.
If you are considering applying for elderly care jobs, you may already work in the care industry or have past experience in a different role. Perhaps you are new to the sector and want to make the best choice when deciding which type of role will suit you best.
Elderly care jobs are very different to jobs in residential care. Although your responsibilities and duties may be similar, the environments in which you work have unique characteristics.
In care homes and nursing homes there is a more set structure, and you’ll be expected to work constantly unless you are on a break. In a home care environment you may not have the cleanliness or sterile equipment you would in a hospital or nursing home – so you may be required to clean and arrange the room appropriately for certain activities.
You may also find you don’t have ready access to equipment and sundries you need to do your job properly.
Depending on your role and the client you may need to carry a kit around with you and there may be lifting and strenuous work involved. Additionally you’ll spend time travelling between visits, and may need to go further afield depending on appointment times and logistics.
If you like a set rota and enjoy being constantly on the go, a job in a nursing home may be best for you. Alternatively if you like to work in a flexible environment and travel around, home care jobs could be more appropriate. In both roles you’ll have the opportunity to meet and form relationships with lots of people.
Most homecare companies provide in-house training, even for those who have experience in homecare or possess relevant qualifications. Sometimes training is on-going, but often you will be expected to continue using your initial basic training unless specific courses arise, such as First Aid.
Progression isn’t always possible within the homecare company itself – however as an individual you can progress professionally with a home care job as your ‘first step’ to build upon.
Progression will of course depend on which type of role you’d like to go into and where your career is headed.
Most applications for homecare jobs (including nursing and other medical and healthcare roles) will benefit from experience gained in a homecare environment. You can build on your experience to become a healthcare assistant, district nurse or continue to work as a manager in a care home. These roles attract higher pay but also have greater responsibility.
Your level of pay will depend on your responsibilities, role and the homecare Company you work for. Some careworker jobs pay well for homecare – especially if you are going to be working unsociable hours. On average a homecare assistant can expect to earn up to £10 per hour, compared with a starting salary of £26,000 a year for a district nurse and £18,000 per year for a healthcare assistant.
If you work privately for an individual with their own budget or benefits allocated to homecare, you’ll need to fill out a self-assessment tax return to declare your income. This may increase the amount of tax you pay if you have another job and also pay tax through a PAYE system.
Naturally some home care companies are better to work for than others. Many recognise the hard work their employees put in and have benefit and reward schemes. Some fund extra training and courses to help you to develop professionally and feel more confident in your role.
Generally the best companies to work for have positive reviews from clients – as studies show that happy staff result in happier customers. Often homecare companies who allow their staff to do their jobs without strict time limits are favoured by employees. You can find reviews online, or ask for recommendations from those who already work for the company you are considering.
Home healthcare jobs are usually advertised in a number of places. Refining your search by starting with specialist sites (such as on this site) can save time – but usually positions are also posted on the company’s website itself, as well as on mainstream jobsites. Your local newspaper may include details of home healthcare jobs – both for private individuals and for larger companies.
It’s worth noting that you can also work privately as a homecare assistant, either for one individual alone or for several clients on a freelance basis.
If you are being funded by a government scheme or benefits you may need to be vetted and approved by the local council prior to starting work. You may also be subject to a DBS check and could require professional insurance – this will depend on the type of care you give. Freelancing is usually more appropriate for low-level carers who make meals, bring shopping and provide companionship.
Most large homecare companies who promote vacancies directly on their website have the facility to apply online, whether via email or through an automated database system.
An easy option will be to upload your CV on to our job board, and allow employers to contact you directly.
Either way you’ll need to provide an up-to-date copy of your CV, along with proof of any previous experience (including details of referees), relevant qualifications and credentials. Here are some tips from Learn Direct on writing a CV.
You can also apply by visiting the company’s premises, or through responding to an advert placed online on a forum, jobsite or newspaper.
However you choose to apply, make sure you include all relevant details in your application – including any relevant additional qualifications such as First Aid or Dementia training.
If you are new to homecare, provide an explanation regarding your interest in the role and why you are suitable. It’s a good idea to research the company in question so that you are aware of how they do things and certain aspects they pride themselves on, so that you can show you fit in with their existing ethos and staff.
Here’s a great video from Guardian Jobs which gives some great tips on writing a CV.
You can find positions in care and nursing home jobs advertised on our site, as we have a dedicated homecare and nursing jobs board. You can find a range of home care jobs here.
You may also find home care jobs advertised on the website of a company – usually under a ‘Careers’ tab – so when conducting a job search it’s always a good idea to list the names of the companies you especially wish to work with, and take a look at their sites individually to see whether any positions have been posted there.
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