What do you need to be a Care Assistant?

In today’s blog I’m going to look at what you need to be a care assistant.  I’ll then look at how you start a career in care.

We’ve already discovered you don’t need experience or qualifications to be a care assistant but what do you need?  It may sound a little bit obvious to just say you should be caring and kind but it’s a good place to start.  From a personality aspect you do need certain attributes and values to be a care assistant.  In the care role you need to be able to understand the individual needs of each resident you care for.  You need to have empathy and compassion for the resident or person you are looking after.  At Risedale we offer care for a variety of residents through specialist units, we have general and complex care nursing units, behavioural support units and specialist dementia units to name a few.  A resident in a general nursing home may require different types of care or a different approach to the help they require than a resident in a unit that specialises in dementia.  As a care assistant you need to be able to assess the needs of the resident and help them in a way so that they are able to maintain their independence and dignity. 

So far, it sounds like you need to be a lovely kind person! That is true, but you also need to be dedicated, hardworking, caring, passionate, responsible, friendly, fun, compassionate, the list is endless. All types of attributes are valuable in a care home, it depends on the situation. Outgoing, bubbly, energetic people are fabulous for the residents and always put a smile on faces by bursting into song or dancing during lunch. Sometimes a calm, gentle touch is required so if you are more of an easy-going laid-back person, this can help to put residents at ease if they are feeling a little overwhelmed.

We could list a hundred things that carers should be and the attributes and values they should have.  If you believe you have the right values for a career in care you should try to find a company that has similar values to you.  

Our Values

Here are the values of Risedale Care Homes.   

We are a family
We are friendly and kind
We are dependable and reliable
We make connections with people
We care about people feeling comfortable and at home
We care about keeping everyone safe
We are loyal and want to be here
We are together and support each other
We are good listeners and treat each other with respect
We are well led
We continually improve
We are treating people fairly
We behave with integrity
We are transparent
We care about following the rules
We care about our reputation
We are supportive
We are competent
We have high standards
We do things properly
We care about best practice and quality
We deliver the care each person wants in the way they want it
We are going the extra mile
We invest in people
We believe in people
We recognise talent
We provide quality training
We provide opportunities at all levels
We enable people to upskill and progress

These values were discussed and compiled by our employees.  A group was formed with employees from all departments, we didn’t just use our nurses and carers to discuss what values our company has.  The group included cooks, kitchen assistants, cleaners, maintenance and receptionists.  We all have a responsibility to make sure our residents get the best possible care and that takes a team of people working in all areas.

As our work is guided and informed by our beliefs and commitment to our values, our recruitment process is committed to employing people that share the same values as us.   Which brings us to the recruitment process and how you go about starting your career in care!

How do you start a career in care?

It’s quite simple really, you just apply!   I’m sure all companies that offer careers in care have a similar recruitment process, but here’s how we do it at Risedale.

Step 1 – Interview successful applicants

Our interviews are a chance for us to tell you all about Risedale, what we do, what we can offer and why you should come and work for us.  I know the word interview terrifies some people so I treat our interviews as more of a friendly, informal chat, a chance to get to know each other.  Of course, there are some questions we need to ask but nothing like the usual interview questions, we won’t be asking where you want to be in five years or why do you think we should employ you.   All our questions are tailored around care and what people think is involved, the answers are just what you think and feel.

An interview is not just about the applicant impressing the employer the applicant needs to like what an employer is offering so they want to come and work with you.

Step 2 – A voluntary shift

If successful at the interview stage Risedale invites applicants back to do a voluntary shift.  This is a great thing for both the applicant and the employer.  The applicant gets the chance to experience the job and see what it is like in the care homes.  If you are unsure if care is for you a voluntary shift offers a look at the role without any pressure.  The voluntary shift also helps an employer to see how the applicant gets on and to see if they think the applicant will enjoy the role.

Step 3 – Disclosure & Barring application and references

After an applicant has completed the voluntary shift and both we and the applicant want to go ahead with a position, we make an appointment for a Disclosure & Barring (DBS) Application.  We apply for an enhanced certificate which checks criminal records and the barred list for working with vulnerable adults.  Risedale pay for all disclosure and barring checks that are needed so they come at no cost to the applicant. 

At this stage we would also discuss information for references.  Two references are required to commence employment, one ideally would be a current or last employer and a second can be a character reference.  We never request a reference until the applicant tells us we can, we don’t like to ruin surprises!  As an applicant it’s also courteous to ask someone if they will give you a reference and tell them a reference request will be coming. 

Step 4 – Induction and start date

All positions at Risedale are subject to satisfactory DBS and references.  Once we have the DBS certificate and references back, we can arrange a start date and induction for the applicant.  A start date will be discussed that is suitable for both the applicant and us.  If you have a notice to give, we will arrange a start date for when your notice period is over. 

We run inductions at our training centre every two weeks.  It is a full afternoon training session to give you all the information you need to start your career as a carer, including training on moving and handling, infection control, basic fire and much more.  At the induction stage we also fill in all of the paperwork to get you on our payroll.

Step 5 – You start your new career as a carer

When you start with us you are given a mentor and some shifts on a supernumerary basis.  Basically, you have someone to look after you and support you through your first shifts, you are classed as an extra pair of hands and not initially counted in the care assistant numbers.  Risedale is a welcoming, friendly and supportive place to work, they look after their employees with the same passion and dedication that they use to look after the residents.

Hopefully this gives an idea of what you need to get started in one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever have.  If you are still unsure, in the next couple of blogs I’ll be detailing the experiences and thoughts of some of our carers.  Who best to hear what the role of a carer is about than from the people who actually do it!

The care sector is currently experiencing a shortage of carers, so if you are considering if a career in care is for you; even if it’s just a fleeting thought or a whim, do not hesitate to at least apply and see what happens. 

Risedale Care Homes – Recruitment Video

Is care for me?  I’m still figuring that out!  

Is care for you?  Let me know.

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