Care assistants provide practical and emotional support and care to the elderly, disabled or incapacitated, where they are unable to carry out these tasks independently or without assistance.
They work within domestic, community, hospital and residential settings, carrying out a wide variety of tasks, depending on the needs of the individual and the type of setting.
This detailed guide includes a full care assistant job description and everything else you need to know about care assistants, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.
- Care assistant job description
- How much do care assistants earn?
- What does a care assistant do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs care assistants?
- Which junior jobs progress to care assistant roles?
Care assistant job description
Care assistant | Greenglades Care Homes
About Greenglades Care Homes
At Greenglades we provide exceptional person-centred care to adults with disabilities. We are passionate about each individual resident in our five CQC ‘Outstanding’ rated care homes.
About the role
We need enthusiastic, empathetic and positive care assistants to help provide care to our residents with a range of disabilities, helping to meet their physical and emotional needs – reporting to the home’s care manager.
- Work with the care team to understand, review and evaluate the care plans of individual residents
- Deliver outstanding care, under supervision, within the home, according to the needs of the individual
- Provide care of a varied nature, including personal care and social care, as well as ad hoc housekeeping tasks as they arise, should it be out of hours for housekeeping
- Follow the home’s policies and procedures, ensuring efficiency and safety
- Act as a key worker for named residents, liaising with their family when required
- Observation of residents in your care, including monitoring and reporting to your care supervisor
- Promote the resident’s independence, privacy and dignity
Location & commitments
- Permanent full time role working 40 hours per week over five 8 hour shifts working at our Basingstoke home
- Includes evening, night, weekend and bank holiday working with shifts arranged 4 weeks in advance
- Overtime may be required
- Enhanced DBS check
- Excellent communication skills and the ability to solve problems quickly
- Empathy and compassion in dealing with vulnerable people with complex needs
- NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care or equivalent
- Minimum of 2 years’ experience working in a care setting with adults with disabilities
- Experience providing care to individuals with acquired brain injuries
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to work with a vibrant team of passionate carers, with residents who continually bring a smile to our faces, then we’d like to hear from you. Send your CV across to the care manager, Polly Watton, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much do care assistants earn?
Care assistants typically earn less than the national average, but salaries can be increased with experience and specialisation. The average care assistant salary is £19,078.
Care assistant salaries in the UK
- Low: £16,622
- Average: £19,078
- High: £28,362
Care assistant salaries will vary hugely depending on;
- The hours worked – e.g. does the care assistant work night shifts or antisocial hours?
- The setting – e.g. domestic/home, hospital (NHS or private), private nursing facility, residential care or nursing care (either state run or private)
- General salary factors – such as level of candidate experience and location
For example, an experienced care assistant working in a private domestic setting, working night shifts, will usually earn more than a junior care assistant who is working in an NHS hospital setting on a day shift.
There is greater variation in salaries within the private sector, whereas salaries in the state sector are relatively fixed according to seniority based on experience.
Note that these average earnings are taken from a range of job adverts and do not include additional benefits such as pension and overtime.
What does a care assistant do?
Care assistant tasks can vary according to the needs of the individual they are caring for. However, these are the typical duties required in most care assistant job descriptions;
- Personal care – Helping the client to wash, bathe, dress, eat, drink and meet continence needs
- Housekeeping – Providing services such as changing linen, laundry, vacuuming and meal preparation
- Household management tasks – Assisting the individual with basic household management such as bill paying and shopping
- Enabling socialisation – Facilitating social experiences, including accompanying the individual to social events and appointments
- Mobilisation – Help with safe mobilisation, including safe lifting, transfers, movement and re-positioning as needed
- Emotional support – Providing company, conversation, encouragement and moral support through building a rapport and relationship with the cared for individual
- Observation and reporting – Monitoring a clients’ needs and well-being, reporting to supervisors
- Care plans – Contributing to meetings regarding the client’s care long term plans and what the care intends to achieve for them
- Prevention – Take steps to ensure preventative care in line with policies and procedures, e.g. fall prevention and disease and illness prevention
What do care assistants need?
Care assistants need a basic level of education, physical good health and notable personal attributes to care for vulnerable individuals.
They require knowledge of certain safe working practices, as well as certain background checks and possibly a valid driving license.
The specific skills and experience needed will vary according the role, employer and the individuals being cared for. However, there are some common elements to most care assistant roles including:
Junior care assistant roles can be accessed with little or no experience. However, some employers will require applicants to have experienced a social care setting. All care assistants are usually expected to undergo a 12-week induction process, in line with national expectations for working in adult social care, or with children.
Working with vulnerable people, all care assistants must have relevant background and medical checks.
Intermediate to senior care assistant roles require the candidate to have a broad range of social care experience, usually in a range of settings and with individuals with different needs. Further education (described below) is sometimes expected alongside experience, in order to progress. For specialist care assistant roles relevant specialist experience is required e.g. working with epilepsy.
Care assistants require a unique set of soft skills, largely focusing on their own personal attributes.
- Communication: Verbal communication with vulnerable individuals in a clear and simple way, as well as communication with the wider team and management
- Patience: A calm and unhurried approach to frailty and physical or learning difficulties
- Problem solving: Finding solutions to everyday problems in an efficient and safe manner
- Discretion: Protecting the dignity and privacy of vulnerable clients
- Rapport-building: Nurturing and encouraging a good and caring relationship with the client, as an important person in that individual’s daily life
- Empathy and kindness: An authentic understanding of the difficulties the individual faces matched with a kind and compassionate approach
- Responsibility: Follow safe practice, policies and procedures, always centred on keeping the individual, care assistant and employer safe
Care assistant qualifications
At the entry-level, specific qualifications are not essential for working as a care assistant. Employers will generally look at personal attributes over qualifications.
At higher levels, and in some care assistant roles, additional qualifications may be required. These qualifications are also necessary if an individual wishes to move beyond the assistant level into management.
All care assistants are usually required to complete a 12-week induction process, when they are new to care, which involves on-the-job training, in line with national requirements.
This 12-week induction process results in a Care Certificate. It is required for all those who are new to social care work. Details of the standards required can be found at Skills for Care. It includes basic knowledge of aspects of care such as fluids and nutrition, safeguarding and infection prevention and control.
NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care
The Level 2 qualification can be undertaken before, or during, the first care job, or subsequent positions. It includes 9 core units covering:
- Personal development
- Equality and inclusion
- Safeguarding and protection
- The role of the health and social care worker
- Person-centred approaches t care
- Health and safety
- Information handling
- Duty of care
There are additional units that an individual may also select e.g. acquired brain injuries, dementia and causes and spread of infection.
NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care
Level 3 is completed when the individual has some experience in care work, and is potentially working at times without direct supervision. The Level 3 qualification is split in to two routes:
- Diploma in Health and Social Care (Children and Young People) (14 core units)
- Diploma in Health and Social Care (Adults) (9 core units)
Core units cover a range of topics in care, such as equality and inclusion, assessment and planning and person-centred care.
In addition, optional units are also undertaken. These include topics such as independent advocacy and access to education, training or employment.
Health and Social Care Apprenticeships
An alternative route to qualification in social care is via apprenticeship. Apprenticeships take place ‘on-the-job’, e.g. working with older people, recovering addicts, individuals with acquired brain injury or learning disabilities. You may do some of the qualification in the workplace, but you may also need to attend a local college to complete some elements.
Health and Social Care Apprenticeships usually take 12 – 24 months to complete, and qualification is awarded following a final assessment.
Specialised training and qualifications
Depending on the nature of the specific role, a care assistant may need additional specialised training or qualifications to best care for the individual they are looking after. For example, sign language, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or dementia care.
Although not a qualification, a Disclosure and Barring Service check, ensure that participants have no criminal history which might make them unsuitable for working with vulnerable people.
What is expected of care assistants?
Care assistant job requirements depend on the setting and role but typically include:
- Shift-working – Shifts depend on setting requirements and may include night shifts. Part-time shifts are available
- Weekend and bank holiday work – Care assistants are required continually, and shifts reflect this
- Location – The role can be based in a single setting e.g. a hospital, or in multiple settings in the community e.g. an individual’s home. Some care assistant roles require staff to live on site
- Overtime – Overtime may be expected due to the critical needs of clients
Care assistant benefits
The benefits a care assistant gets depend on the employer. The NHS is the largest employer of care assistants in the UK. Benefits for care assistants across the industry tend to reflect the NHS package:
- Holidays – 27 days per year with 8 general/public holidays, rising to 33 days after 10 years’ service, pro-rata in accordance with shift working
- Pay enhancements – for shift working, antisocial hours and overtime
- Training and study leave
- Occupational health service
- Mileage – Payment for miles driven to clients for community based work
Private employers may offer additional benefits.
Who employs care assistants?
The NHS, various independent healthcare businesses, and Social Services, are the largest employers of care assistants in the UK. Care assistants therefore work in both the public and the private sector.
Typical care assistant employers are found within the following organisations:
- Social Services
- Residential care homes
- Nursing care homes
- Probation and Prison Service
- Community care
- Charity and voluntary
- Specialist schools
Which junior jobs progress to care assistant roles?
It is possible to enter a junior care assistant role without any previous experience. However, it is not unusual for an individual to have experience in a voluntary role e.g. within a care home or hospice.
Which senior jobs do care assistants progress to?
Care assistants typically progress to team leader or supervisor and then care manager.
Team leader or supervisor
As a care team leader, the individual is responsible for a number of care workers, coordinating the care provision and supervising their work.
Ultimately, care assistants can progress to the role of care manager where their role is to oversee the entire care function, including several teams, and maybe a setting.
Care assistant job description – conclusion
Care assistants account for an enormous portion of those working in health and social care.
It requires strong personal attributes, and a dedication to the wellbeing of individuals. They work within varied settings, both within the community, and in residential care settings.
The role can be immensely rewarding, involving strong interpersonal relationships, and as such attracts many looking to make a difference by providing excellent care.