A health and social care worker has an important role to play in society. Very few professions can have as big a positive impact on lives if they are committed, knowledgeable and thorough in their work.
There are a variety of health and social care careers, all requiring vastly different skill-sets, but what they do have in common is they all provide physical, emotional and social support to people in need. Healthcare roles are usually focused on helping people with their physical or mental health within a practice. While social care focuses on supporting vulnerable people in the community so they can live a higher quality of life and cope better with their hardships.
In modern times, due to shortage of skills and training, many overlaps between health and social care careers have started to appear – lots of workers cover both fields, and the skills and personal traits required are becoming increasingly similar. For example, healthcare staff, like nurses, are being given training so they can assess both the mental and physical health of their patients, despite being primarily responsible for just the physical.
What is the Role of a Health and Social Care worker?
So, what do health and social care workers do on a day-to-day basis? Let’s start with responsibilities key for health workers:
- Hospital care – This can be sorted into two types: acute care, which covers a complete range of medical specialities and long-stay care, implemented during psychiatric care and prolonged nursing care. In modern times, long-stay care is becoming less popular with time, with a drastic increase in acute care offering hospitals.
- Primary care – This is the primary focus of medical care in practices. Essentially, it means basic medical treatments and non-hospital care including family practitioners like GP’s, home nursing and therapies, dentistry, optics and pharmacy.
- Public healthcare – This is one of the most important issues for the well-being of the global population, especially with the threat of COVID-19. It refers to preventive medicine and certain areas not associated with traditional health services such as food hygiene, water, housing and sewage care.
Social care generally takes the work outside of medical practices and into the larger community – working with families and people in need – but on a more personal level. They will provide help for family members in distressing and complicated situations, people in conflict or just help out with people facing the challenges of old age.
This aspect of social care is becoming more and more critical in modern society – as the population gets older and more vulnerable in poverty stricken areas.
- Social support – Social support means going out into the community and providing advice, support and guidance to people on the fringes of society. It also refers to helping mend societal divisions and changing social attitudes by bringing people together.
- Social work – Social workers aim to push society forward by solving social and personal problems. This practice can be either micro-work, which means working with individuals and small groups at risk, or macro-work involving working with communities at large.
- Personal care – These include helping with distribution of food, hygiene products or generally helping people who are in financial dire straits who are struggling to get by.
- Protection and Safety – This initiative is designed to reduce poverty, unemployment and other concerns that might affect people on a personal level, like drug addiction or criminality issues.
Should I Get Into a Career in Health and Social Care?
If you’re interested in a fulfilling and worthwhile career, that involves helping people and making a difference in people’s lives – then yes, it’s definitely worth looking into!
There’s hundreds of different jobs in adult health and social care, depending on what you want to do, who you want to work with and where you want to work.
You could work in a direct care role, management, administration or ancillary such as kitchen or domestic roles. This could be in the community, a care home, a hospice, an office or even in someone’s own home.
You could work with lots of different people, for example someone with a physical disability, a learning disability or help someone in need of care after getting into an accident.
Whoever you work with, you have the potential to make a massive difference to someone’s life. This can make it a very rewarding vocation, and this is often what people enjoy the most about working in the industry.
Below you can find the skills and traits someone might need to flourish in the health and social care sector:
- A considerate nature and a sense of empathy for others and their feelings.
- Being patient and caring when working with a person suffering from challenging health and social problems or stressful and complex circumstances.
- An observant nature; to notice when someone requires help and attention.
- A hard worker and hunger to learn; so you can provide up to date information and support when approached with a unique problem.
Advancement of the Health and Social Care Sector
Adult social care services and health organisations, like the NHS, are working closely together to support people who need care. This means that new roles and responsibilities are opening up for candidates that would like to spread themselves over both disciplines.
For example, you could become a care navigator. This involves being the first point of contact for an individual who uses social and health care services, to help them get the correct services that suit their individual circumstances the best. This could mean navigating through both social care and health – requiring a working knowledge of both industries and how they connect.
Services are also exploring new ways of providing care and support to people and communities.. For example, shared lives carers welcome people into their own home and support them there – in order to manage their well-being on a full or part time basis.
What are the Salaries Like?
Good question – as much as you would like to pursue a career for solely non-financial reasons – reality has to set in at some point. Well, good news – in health and social care, there are no fixed salary scales.
As a newly qualified social worker you can expect to earn £22,000 per annum. When gaining more qualifications and experience in the role, this can rise to around £40,000. Social workers for the NHS, on the other hand, typically start on Band 6 of the NHS pay scale, which is £26,565 to £35,577.
Not only that; most local authorities would pay travel expenses for journeys made for business purposes. Many local authorities are happy to negotiate flexible working hours, have family friendly policies and childcare voucher schemes.
And the Working Hours?
Working hours are normally around 37 hours per week for the average health and social care employee. If you work as a residential care social worker, regular unsocial hours are normal practice. Occasional evening and weekend work may be necessary if working in child protection or fostering and adoption teams – as family circumstances can be unique to each case you work with.
Part-time work, job shares and career breaks are possible – as with any public or private sector role.
So, What Types of Qualifications and Training Do I need?
This really depends entirely on the role you are interested in.
Social work is a graduate profession so you will need either an honours or a postgraduate degree in social work to find employment from reputable employers in the industry. The degree will need to be approved by one of the four regulators. These are:
- Social Work England.
- Social Care Wales.
- Northern Ireland Social Care Council.
- Scottish Social Services Council.
Although a diploma in social work (DipSW) and other previous social work qualifications are still recognised as valid social work qualifications, they aren’t offered to new entrants anymore.
If you have an HND or foundation degree you will need to focus on an undergraduate degree in social work, although the following subjects may improve your chances of entering the profession, as they contain skills that are highly transferable:
- Legal studies.
- Politics, government or public administration.
- Social care.
- Social sciences.
Most undergraduate degrees are full-time courses lasting three years, although there are some part-time courses.
A minimum of a 2:2 honours degree is needed for entry into postgraduate professional training. Some universities will only accept applicants with at least a 2:1, so check with each university before applying. Applicants will also need to have passed GCSE (or recognised equivalent) maths and English at grade C or above.
Where Do I Start with Training?
The best place to start your journey into health and social care is by viewing our course pages and sorting by just ‘Health and Social Care’ – we’ve done this for you ourselves to save you the trouble – Here!
We wish you the best of luck with your studies – here’s how we can help!