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.