Training to be a carer

Training to become a carer

There is a high demand for carers in the United Kingdom. That is because there are so many people in need of care. Whether it’s young children, disabled adults or elderly people, many British families choose to rely on carers for their loved ones.

The elderly care sector in particular hires a big chunk of the carer workforce. And as the population continues to age, the demand for carers will only keep getting higher. As well as that, it is predicted that the types of care people will be accessing will differ too.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicts a 36% growth in people aged 85 years+, between 2015 and 2025. The number will jump from 1.5 million to 2 million. Naturally, this is expected to lead to a considerable increase in demand for carer services - both in home care and private care.

Elderly care is a very rewarding field to work in. Becoming a carer will not only offer you a sense of reward, but will make you feel like you are doing something worthwhile with your time - you are helping another human being. How incredible is that feeling when we do something good to help someone? Essentially, that is the job of a carer. A carer builds close relationships with the elderly people they help, they create a connection. So, being a carer is more than just a job. But how can you become a carer? If you want to become a successful carer, you will need to train for it first. There are a few things you need to tick off. Here is all the information you need to know if you want to become a carer.

How to train to become a carer?

If you want to become a carer, you can do so in a variety of ways. There are a few options for you, such as college courses, which will give you the necessary skills to become an elderly carer. Apart from education, an essential part of being a carer is being a kind and compassionate person. As a carer, you must genuinely want to help people and have the desire to make a change in someone else’s life. Your main duty as a carer is to help vulnerable people - in this case, elderly persons - to manage their daily activities and live their life as independently as they want. In essence, to be a carer, you need to care.

The training you need to become a carer is very diverse. If you wish to train to become a carer there are different routes you could follow. Some options are:

  • Volunteering
  • Applying to jobs directly
  • College courses
  • Apprenticeships

If you’d like to train to become a carer, a good starting point would be doing some volunteering work, specifically an organisation that supports vulnerable people. Otherwise, to become a carer you could also just apply directly to the carer job you desire and do training on the job.

Another option in your carer training would be doing a college course. A good starting point for a carer would be either a Level 1 Certificate in Health and Social Care or a Level 2 Diploma in Care.

So if you’d like to take the college route in your carer training, then you need to know that there are a few entry requirements you will need to meet:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1/ D to G for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grade 9 to 3 / A* TO D for a level 2 course

The other option to prepare you for your carer career is to take up an apprenticeship. You could do this through an adult care worker intermediate apprenticeship or a lead adult care worker advanced apprenticeship. If you’d like to enter a carer apprenticeship you need to know what generally there are no entry requirements, but it would definitely help you if you have:

  • Some GCSEs (usually English and Maths) for an intermediate carer apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 / A* to C (usually English and Maths) for an advanced apprenticeship

Taking the higher education route is not the only choice in getting your carer training. A clever choice that you can make, even quite late in your life, in case you want to do a career change and make the move to becoming a carer, is registering for online courses. Carer training courses are a great option. Many elderly support companies offer these carer training services. Some carer trainings may include in-house carer training courses with some practical work as well or simply online carer training courses.

Either way you choose to go with your carer training path, you will definitely be able to find the training that suits you most.

Typically, online carer training courses cover subjects such as:

  • The duties and responsibilities of a carer and how to deliver them
  • Customer service
  • Personal care
  • Health and safety
  • First aid
  • Dementia care
  • Manual handling

It is important to know that if you’ve spent considerable time looking after a loved one, this time in your life also counts as experience. So you can add that to you carer training “qualifications”.

A carer needs to possess certain fundamental skills. Here are some carer must-have skills:

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Patience
  • Organisational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Teamworker
  • Customer service

How to get experience to become a carer?

There are many ways in which you can train to be an elderly carer. It is important to note that carer experience is very varied. You just have to choose the way that suits you best. Some training carers thrive in an academic environment - so you can choose to take college courses or complete a university degree focused on elderly care or care in general. Universities offer some great degrees for persons interested in becoming carers, such as a BSc health and social care degree.

But if you want to train as a carer and the academic environment doesn’t suit you, you can try a more hands-on approach. Maybe you are a practical learner, as opposed to a theoretical learner - and that is okay! Each carer has trained in different ways. There are no wrong or right ways. It’s just about what works for you most.

The role of a carer may not be for anyone, but the road to becoming a trained carer is quite accessible. If you are lucky enough and decide early on that you wish to become a carer, you can start building your curriculum vitae in your teenage years. That can be done by doing volunteer work. Volunteering is the easiest way to kick-start your career as an elderly carer. Choose an organisation that supports vulnerable people.

A good starting point for a beginner carer would be volunteering at care homes. Care homes do their best to take care of their residents, but they often can’t offer enough one-on-one time with their residents. That’s where volunteers step in. If you’d like to start adding up relevant experience for your carer job, carer homes are a place where you will learn plenty of things and develop yourself as a person. More importantly, it will teach you valuable skills and lessons very early on, which will be key in your carer training.

Some of the things you may be doing as a volunteer carer might be:

  • Spending one-on-one time with residents
  • Assist residents on day trips
  • Assist with activities in the home

Secondly, another thing you can do to improve your chances of becoming a trained carer are doing an apprenticeship with an organisation specialising in elderly care. Doing an apprenticeship is a great way to learn the core skills needed to become a professional elderly carer. As well as that, as an apprentice carer you will garner valuable life lessons and invaluable experiences.

If you want to become a carer and you have no prior experience with elderly care, then an apprenticeship might be the right way to start. Many carers come from all walks of life. They may have worked in completely the opposite fields before, but they want to make a career change.

Thirdly, and not to be disregarded, is personal experience. So if you’ve been in the position of caring for a friend or a loved one before, this counts as carer experience. It’s good to remember that training to be a carer may begin very early on for some. This carer experience may be a lot of things. Every carer has accrued different levels of experience through different approaches and experiences. If you cared for your elderly parents or grandparents for a considerable amount of time or an acquaintance or friend in need of personal care, write that down as your carer experience.

Should I take online courses to be a carer?

Online courses are an amazing way of training to become a carer. Many people who choose to do a career change and become a carer pick the option of taking online courses. There are many elderly care organisations which are licensed to provide classes in elderly care.

If you want to become a carer, the online course you will graduate from will be accepted in the elderly care field. Just be careful that the company you choose is certified to offer the courses and that you will not be scammed.

Being a carer is a complex job, so make sure to choose courses which offer both theoretical knowledge, as well as allow you to do practical carer sessions or trainings. Some examples of carer courses that might interest you as a carer are:

  • Basic life support
  • Dignity in care
  • Effective communication
  • Epilepsy medication training
  • Stroke awareness
  • Dementia awareness
  • Risk assessment
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults
  • Safe people moving and handling

Of course, these are just some examples of carer online courses available. If you are seriously thinking of following a career in elderly care, you should think about what you will feel most comfortable with. Nevertheless, as a carer you do need to know the key elements in elderly care.

While university degrees or college degrees are not obligatory to become a carer, it is advised that you undertake the Care Certificate. This is something which can be easily acquired after some online course too.

All in all, there are many different routes to take in order to become a carer. You can train to be a carer in whichever way suits you best. You need to remember that if you want to start working as an elderly carer, you don’t necessarily need qualifications. If you are working in a different field and have no prior experience as a carer, you can still become a carer.

In essence all that you need to be a carer is possess the right values and behaviours. It all depends on which carer jobs you aim to get.

A regular carer role might include:

  • Conversation partner
  • Support in social and physical activities
  • Booking appointments
  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Helping with personal care (showering, dressing)

In conclusion, becoming a carer is a career that can be followed by almost anyone, if their heart is where it matters. Whether you have experience as a carer or not, you can still find opportunities that are right for you, depending on the level of experience.

As a carer, the qualifications are not mandatory from the start. You can learn more as you progress in your carer job. Some of the main qualities you need to have as a successful carer are being genuinely concerned and interested in bringing a positive change in someone else’s life. What many employers look for in a carer is someone to offer company and a bit of personal help. So if you are a kind, genuine, compassionate person with an out-going personality, happy to talk to other people and share life experiences, you will become a great carer.

Elderly care is a unique and rewarding field to work in. As a carer you will end each day spent caring for someone with a sense of reward, knowing that you’ve done good.

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