Health and Social Care Jobs and Careers
One of the most crucial roles in a society that supports the wellbeing of all its members is that of social carer, better known as social worker. This professional provides support to individuals who are in crisis or who are excluded. They are particularly known for their work with children, when parents are unable to provide the care required.
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Social workers are employed within the public sector, normally by local authorities. Their role is to support individuals, families and other groups. They work within homes, schools, hospitals or other public sector organisations. Their concerns take in facilities such as children's services, the foster care system, crisis help lines, refuge centres, probation offices and other assistance programmes.
The profession can be divided into four areas:
- Child, family and school. These social workers are concerned with the social and psychological stability of children and their families, as well as senior citizens.
- Medical and public health. These professionals provide support for people affected by chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, their families and carers.
- Mental health and substance abuse. These social workers are concerned with people who have issues around substance abuse, providing group and individual therapy, social rehabilitation and outreach work.
- Planners and policymakers develop programmes to address the above issues, as well as homelessness, poverty and violence.
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Social Worker Jobs Description
A social worker will be involved with a number of the following, depending on their area of specialisation.
- Providing mental health support to clients, in the form of counselling or group therapy.
- Interviewing clients and evaluating the nature and extent of their problems, in order to assess the needs that can be met via social work.
- Developing treatment plans with clients' involvement.
- Maintaining accurate treatment records, so that continuity can be achieved for clients.
- Liaising with other agencies and directing clients to assistance provided by these.
- Consulting with medical professionals and therapists, ensuring that clients are receiving the care needed in relation to their social and psychological challenges as well as medical.
- Administering social service programmes such as work training, reading skills, nutritional education and others.
- Working with and communicating with clients' families, to ensure the whole support system is aware of what's happening.
Type of Person Required for Health and Social Care Jobs
The right person to be a social worker needs to have a wide range of skills and personal qualities.
The fundamental requirement is an interest in the community, a giving nature and a strong desire to help others. This desire to help must be genuine, as the role is often thankless.
Other important characteristics:
- It's always important to be able to use your initiative. While social workers operate in teams and under supervision, there are many instances where you need to assess a situation and respond within a short timeframe.
- Patience is essential. You'll be working in difficult situations and, at times, with people who are in crisis. Emotions can run high and it's critical that you remain calm.
- Resilience is also important. There are many times when you'll feel that a lot of work is leading to little progress. Workloads can be heavy and resources scarce.
- Flexibility is essential, given the varied situations that arise. Each may require a different combination of interventions and/of methods of support. You'll have to apply different areas of your knowledge and skills within varying roles.
- Given that you frequently need to assess clients and their situations, your analytical skills need to be well developed. You also need to be able to observe, as many signs won't be expressed to you verbally.
- Counselling plays a role in social work, so you need to exhibit good listening skills and a high degree of empathy.
- Social workers operate under a strict legislative framework, so you need to be able to understand regulations and adhere to sometimes strict procedures.
- Communication skills are vital, given the wide range of people you'll be dealing with. At times you may need to negotiate with clients, speak on their behalf or mediate between different parties.
- Administration skills are important for the fairly heavy degree of report writing and paperwork.
Training for Health and Social Care Jobs
Social workers need to be qualified at least to Bachelor's degree level. In the UK, degrees need to be on the approved list of the General Social Care Council (GSCC). Subjects can be social work, although psychology and sociology are also acceptable subjects for entering the profession.
Today, many positions require a Masters degree in social work. A Bachelor's degree to a minimum of 2.2 is required, together with relevant experience in a paid position within the community or through relevant voluntary work.
The Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) is still recognised, as are other previous social work qualifications. People who have taken a Higher National Diploma or foundation degree can usually access a Bachelor's degree in Social Work.
Hours and Salary
Social workers usually work around 37 hours a week. If involved with residential care, hours may be variable and involve shift work or non-office hours as a normal part of the job. Some part-time positions and job shares are available.
The exact nature of the role depends on the sector of work. Most social workers are members of multi-disciplinary teams, consisting of various therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, community nurses, etc. Consequently, while the work is office-based, much time is spent driving to different locations.
Salaries vary, although freshly qualified social workers would expect to earn a minimum of £18,000 a year, rising to £30,000 with additional responsibilities and experience. These figures would be higher in London where the cost of living is higher. However, there is much variation from one employer to another.
Benefits are sometimes available to enhance the packages available to new employees. As well as car user allowances, car lease schemes and help with childcare, some employers offer introductory payments.
At present, skilled social workers are in demand, particularly within family work. Jobs are available in most regions.
Social Care Job Sites
- Social work news and jobs - www.communitycare.co.uk
- Social Care and Development Jobs - www.charityjob.co.uk/jobs/social+care_development
- Find thousands of social care jobs on JobisJob UK - jobisjob.co.uk
- Social care jobs' site - www.socialcare.co.uk
More Information for Health and Social Care Jobs
- Skills for Care is involved in supporting employers with training for social workers - www.skillsforcare.org.uk
- British Association of Social Workers
- The National Association of Social Workers - www.socialworkers.org
- Scottish Social Services Council - www.sssc.uk.com
- Careers advice - National Careers Service