Are you the first person your friends call in times of crisis? Can you always be relied on to offer a helping hand and a sympathetic ear? If caring for others is something you enjoy, then consider a career as a support worker.
What does a support worker do?
Day to day work.
In a nutshell, you’ll be helping vulnerable people with daily tasks. No two days are ever the same and you might work with people with physical, mental or emotional issues. Sometimes, the work will involve helping them through difficult times. On other occasions you might give more practical help, drawing up care plans and helping with physical tasks. Some of this work will take place in people’s own homes, on other occasions you could work in a youth centre or residential home.
One any given day you might:
- Assist with bathing, dressing or feeding
- Offer help on day-to-day living issues such as budgeting, shopping and benefits
- Deal with residents’ families and home visits
- Create plans to help them become more independent
You might be wondering what your salary will be. Support workers earn between £17,000 and £27,000 a year depending on experience.
Qualifications and experience needed in a support worker job.
If academia isn’t your strong suit don’t worry – the main thing is your passion for caring and your compassion for others. Work experience is great but don't stress if you don’t have any. There’s always time to volunteer at a care home or charity and build up a history.
There are no essential qualifications but having an NVQ in health and social care is useful. Don’t forget those all-important basic skills – numeracy and literacy and make sure you have GCSEs in those subjects.
Often it’s not about the qualifications you have but the skills you can use – compassion, being practical, being a good listener and communicating well are all key to being a great support worker. People will want to chat to you, enjoy human interaction and make connections. If you can’t do that, then don’t bother applying.
Patience and understanding are also important. But don’t forget about you in your excitement to land a role. Some of the situations you can find yourself in are distressing and you need to make sure you can cope with that.
Self-absorbed introverts don’t make good support workers but people who are kind and caring and can demonstrate high levels of empathy do. A quick temper won’t get you all that far but being patient, listening and learning from your mistakes will.
Expect to find work in a care home, youth hostel, children’s home or residential care centre. Your employer is likely to be a local council or NHS trust. As you gain experience you can take on a senior or managerial role. Alternatively, use it as a base before embarking on a social worker degree.
Support worker summary.
- Varied and interesting role
- Need to be compassionate
- No formal qualifications required
- Listening and caring skills important
Knowing you can make a tangible difference to a stranger’s life is extremely rewarding and a role as a support worker lets you do just that.