There are very few jobs where you can feel you are making a direct and immediate difference to other people’s quality of life. If you enjoy helping people and want to do this as a career, then one of the many and varied care assistant jobs could be ideal for you. 

You may be offering companionship to the elderly, arranging activities for children with learning disabilities, teaching life skills to those with mental health needs or offering physical support to someone with disabilities. Whatever you are doing, though, you will be making a difference, and, if this is what motivates you here are the key tasks, skills and qualifications you need to become a personal care assistant.

Health care assistant jobs: what is involved?

Care assistants are also known as support workers. Your responsibilities are largely determined by who you are supporting and what needs they have.

You could find yourself working with people in their own homes, in sheltered housing, at day centres or in places like nursing homes.

Your duties are likely to include:

  • Helping people with washing, dressing and feeding
  • Organising and carrying out work around the house (such as cleaning, laundry and shopping)
  • Teaching life skills such as money management and communication
  • Working with other care professionals to create and implement care and development plans
  • Arranging leisure activities

What does a care assistant need to succeed?

What is essential for this role is a friendly, empathetic and caring approach. You will need to be able to relate to people from a variety of different backgrounds and conduct your work with patience and a sense of humour.

A flexible approach is needed to your working hours as well as in your behaviour towards people. Typically your hours each week may vary according to the staff rota. Your working hours may include evenings, weekends or split shifts. If you work residentially you may be required to work overnight. Due to the work being organised by shifts there is plenty of opportunity for part-time work.

Qualifications are not essential, although there are a number of health and social care BTECs and Diplomas available that can help demonstrate your commitment to care as a career. 

What is more important is your ability to demonstrate that you understand what is involved in the work and have gained experience of it. To do this, you could volunteer with an organisation that supports vulnerable people or you may be able to draw on your personal experience of caring for a friend or family member.

Is a career as a care assistant right for you?

The rewards of working as a care assistant do not just come from helping other people. 

You will work as part of a close-knit team who are all focused on the same goals. There is a considerable degree of flexibility in when you work and you are encouraged to always use your own initiative.

It is essential, however, that you have a great deal of tact, sensitivity and a strong sense of discretion. Patience and a great sense of humour will also stand you in good stead.