Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

How to get experience to become a carer?

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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.

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