Edge Learner Forum

Youth voices on employability

Working in a care home: what skills do you need?

Working in a care home takes a very special type of person. It needs someone who is caring and sympathetic and wants to make a difference in the lives of people who are not in a position to fend for themselves any more. They may be elderly or infirm, mentally or physically handicapped, or just not able to cope with life, but all have one thing in common – they need your help.

Caring attitude– care work involves looking after those who need assistance in their daily lives. You may be required to help someone with their personal hygiene, getting dressed, eating or simply helping them get out of a chair. You will need to be able to perform these tasks with sympathy, showing that you have a genuine concern for your client.

Patience – people are in care homes for many reasons but all are in need of practical help. Dealing with them can require extreme patience as the elderly, for instance, are often forgetful or the handicapped need extra time to carry out tasks that the able-bodied could do in an instant. A care worker who is not patient will easily become frustrated and discouraged.

Communication – it is vital that care workers establish good relations, not only with their clients but also their family members, to improve understanding and to help build trust. The ability to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life is therefore an important aspect of care work. The provision of care is also a team effort involving other care staff, social workers and medical professionals. As a care worker you will be part of this team and will be expected to be able to communicate with the other members.

Organisation – care work, especially in the care home environment, is busy and demanding. You may well have several clients in your care, each wanting your attention. You will have to be able to arrange your time so that each gets the attention they need and that none feels left out.

Observation– a critical skill that is not often considered, care workers must be keen observers. Clients in care homes are vulnerable and, as a care worker, you will need to be able to tell if they are distressed by observing behaviour and appearance. Anything out of the ordinary could signal a problem that you will have to relate to more senior staff.

These skills are essential for all care workers such as those recruited by hcl. They are in addition to the basic skills like the physical handling of clients, housework and other tasks that you may be required to do – all of which you will be taught on the job. The central aspect of care work, however, is simply that – care. It is a caring attitude, therefore, that is the main skill or trait that makes a good care worker.

Helping young people with learning disabilities: what you need to know

A learning disability affects how someone learns new skills and can refer to ordinary life skills like washing or eating as well as the ability to learn academic skills like reading and writing. It is defined by the World Health Organisation as: “ a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind” and causes sufferers to have difficulty learning new skills, understanding unfamiliar concepts or information and, in some cases, coping independently. This impacts on their ability to communicate, to perform some physical tasks, to interact socially and, in some cases, to live independent lives.

It is estimated that in the United Kingdom there are some 1.5 million people who have learning disabilities and, of these, around 350,000 are severe cases. When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability, the parents will often begin to worry about schooling and their child’s future. Academic success, however, is secondary to whether or not they will be able to lead a happy and independent life and parents can rest assured that with appropriate support their child be helped towards a successful and fulfilling life.

That help usually comes from community care, which offers assistance designed to help those in need to live as independently as possible as part of the community. Parents of a child with a learning disability should arrange for a community care assessment through their local social services department. Based on the assessment, social services will prepare a care plan detailing what services will be provided, by whom and when.

To receive the services, however, the child must meet the eligibility criteria. There are four levels of support:

  • Critical – those needing support all the time.
  • Substantial – those needing support most of the time.
  • Moderate – those needing support for some things.
  • Low – those who live independently and may need support in the event of illness.

Usually, services will only be offered to those identified as having a critical or substantial need.

An important aspect of the philosophy of community care for children and young people with learning disability is that they should be allowed to grow up in a society that includes them. They should, therefore, attend mainstream schools if possible; specialised support will be on hand if it is required. However, there will be cases where it is impractical for a child with learning disability to attend a mainstream school.

While experts in learning disability care will provide the specialist support necessary, parents should remember that they are the most important factor in the lives of their children. They have a greater influence on their children than anyone else. It is up to parents to teach their children to face challenges without being daunted and to impart a spirit of hard work and optimism.

Parents also need to become experts in the field of earning disability, especially as it relates to their own child. Every child, for example, learns in a different way:

  • Auditory learners learn best by listening and may enjoy music and performance.
  • Visual learners learn best through seeing or reading (notes, diagrams and pictures) and may enjoy reading, writing and art.
  • Kinesthetic learners are hands-on learners who learn best through touch and movement and may enjoy sports, dance and crafts.

By identifying how their child learns best, parents will be able to help their child in the most effective way.

Parents also have to keep abreast of new developments and must be prepared to stand up to get the help their child needs. They should focus on the strengths of their child and, above all, remember that a learning disability is not an insurmountable difficulty.

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