There are hundreds of jobs out there that span across so many industries that it can often be difficult to know where to begin. While it is completely possible to step into some roles with ease and little guidance, there are some positions that require a certain level of knowledge going in. Working with the elderly is one such role that requires not only certain training and knowledge but largely relies on personal attributes for the role to be carried out to the best level.
If you have found yourself here you may be considering a job that relates to working with old people. Many individuals begin careers in care for the elderly without perhaps having a full understanding of exactly what is involved. While it may sound easy on the surface, care work can encompass a wide range of duties that can be both physically and emotionally demanding. That being said, it can also be one of the most personally rewarding career paths that you could take, with so much to gain from the work and even more importantly, so much to offer to others.
Elderly care falls under a range of job roles. It could be voluntary work supporting elderly to get out into the community, or it could be one to one care at home or even in a residential care home. Depending on the job role can determine how hands on you are expected to be, and what sort of tasks you will be carrying out to support the individuals under your care.
Care Home Assistant
Care home assistants do a lot of the work that is involved in both support work and home care, however it can often be much more challenging as many individuals who are in a care home tend to be at a more advanced stage in their lives and often need extra care and support.
Many care home assistants will be trained to provide palliative care, support for disabled, and mentally ill individuals alongside their regular duties of general care. For those interested in this line of work NerdNurse provides downloadable training modules for all the topics appropriate to elderly care, including infection control, abuse and neglect, Alzheimer’s disease, medication assistance and many more. Being a care home assistant can be both a rewarding and also extremely challenging job. Some of the typical duties to expect if you become a care home worker include:
- Medication and medical appointments: You will be expected to ensure that all medication is administered and taken safely and as prescribed. It may also at times be asked that you escort individuals under your care to medical appointments either at the GP’s or the hospital.
- Personal Care: Much like the other roles we have looked at, you will be expected to provide a level of personal care. In cases of care home residents it is likely that the level of requirement will be much higher than those living at home.
- To provide dignity and support: For many moving into a care home can be extremely scary, and so first and foremost you will be expected to provide support and respect to those struggling with the change.
- To provide companionship: It may not seem like an obvious one, but you may often be asked to provide company and join in activities such as card games or puzzles.
Support workers are a vital part of the Adult Social Care sector, and while there a variety of areas a support worker may be involved in, from elderly care to young people, learning disabilities and mental health, the overall driver behind the position remains the same; to provide support both emotionally and practically to those who are vulnerable.
In terms of support workers for the elderly, there are a variety of tasks that may be expected of you, which do differ from that of a home care assistant. At bls.gov they list several:
- Getting out into the community: Many support workers for the elderly will assist in days out, trips and social gatherings.
- Moving and Handling: Depending on the mobility of the individual you are supporting, you may be expected to be able to safely assist in moving and handling.
- Housework: From doing the food shop and running errands to cleaning and tidying around the home, depending on the needs of the service user you could be expected to play a large part in these areas.
Home Care Assistant
It is very common that elderly people in need of extra support will opt to have this delivered in their own homes where possible. This may be because they prefer to be in a familiar and safe surrounding, and it also maintains a feeling of control and independence that can often feel lost when they are in a care home or hospital.
The general duty of a home care assistant can vary massively depending on the needs of the individual, however here are the most common tasks that are expected of a home care assistant:
- Housework: You may be required to assist in the cleaning and tidying of the home setting.
- Preparing and eating meals: You may often be expected to prepare meals for the person under your care. In some cases you may also need to assist with the eating of food.
- Medication: In most cases you will be responsible for ensuring medication has been taken safely and as prescribed.
- Personal Care: this could include helping the service user use the toilet, washing and bathing, intimate care and dressing.