Having A Career In Social Care

The whole of health and social care is a jigsaw with GPs, hospitals and carers all working together to achieve the same goal. Yet one of those roles is less valued than the others. A job in social care demands similar skills to all those in health yet it seems to be given a different weighting and a career in my sector is not as desirable as being a nurse or a doctor. Why is that?

There is already a recruitment and retention crisis in social care and many say that what puts them off is the hours. Yes, the hours in care can be unsociable but if you are a nurse or practitioner you’re also expected to work shifts and at weekends so this as an argument doesn’t stack up.

We know that often the pay is poor. But this is only at the lower end, at entry level. Career progression is possible – especially in companies like ours – and higher salaries are achievable. So again, this seems to be misconstrued.

What strikes me the most is the reputation of social care versus health. And I wonder if some of this it to do with the fact that you don’t have to be registered to work in social care and you don’t need to have specific qualifications. There is no standardisation of qualifications and what that means to me is that social care isn’t given the kudos it deserves.

A care company needs to have CQC registration for personal support but not medical. An individual needs a DBS check but there are loopholes such as for private carers. I’ve heard all sorts of shocking stories ranging from carers working with (unchecked) criminal records to families exploiting carers’ good natures. DBS checks are only for regulated activities and there is still a lot unregulated in social care.

Most entry-level roles will ask for a care certificate but I’ve known instances where employers have handed them out without the carer having to do much for them. I make sure that when I recruit carers I always ask to see their certificate workbooks and proof to document they have the level of knowledge the care certificate says they have.

I’ve worked in social care for 20 years and at times. It’s strange because, within the health and social care sector, the level of respect for social care workers has improved dramatically over the past few decades.  As an example, we have two people working for us who started in care, went on to do a degree in nursing then came back to work for us but that is highly unusual. Sadly, I don’t believe that many people in the outside world have the same level of respect for a carer they do a nurse and still see it as a sub-standard role.

To attract people into social care, there needs to be career prospects, and financial security and it needs to have a better reputation. To improve its reputation it needs to be properly and formally assessed.

Recently the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported an increase in the number of over 65s living alone saying since 2020 so our ageing population is going to need even more support in future and the reputation of social care needs addressing now.

Author: Kirsty Page – Head of Service

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