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What qualifications should carers have?

What care qualifications are available

Becoming a carer is a highly rewarding and fulfilling role, and even on the most trying days you have the reward of knowing that you made a real positive difference to another person’s life. Formal qualifications aren’t essential to become a carer; what’s more important are personal qualities of being caring, compassionate and empathetic towards others. Like any skilled role, when you begin there should be a comprehensive training period to ensure that you are confident and competent to care for your customers, which is why thorough training is something that Helping Hands takes very seriously.

Achieving relevant qualifications can be desirable for many carers though because it can equip them with more in-depth, specialist knowledge, as well as giving them confidence in their abilities or eligibility to seek promotion. Before committing themselves to any particular qualification it should be researched thoroughly to check it is suitable, as well as discussing at length with relevant supervisors or managers to ensure it will be of benefit. There is also the question of juggling study with work and home responsibilities and whether the person has the time to fulfill the requirements needed.

Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications

There are many Health and Social Care qualifications and learning providers and it would be impossible to look at each one in any detail, so in the first instance, it is important to speak to your manager (if you already work in care) and discover if your employer offers any kind of work-based training. Helping Hands offers opportunities for all its employees to further their skills and this is just one of the reasons that we are considered a leading home care company across the UK.

Taking the City and Guilds awarding body as an example, there are five qualifications available at level 1, including pathways for whether you’d rather focus on adults or have your course also cover young people’s care. These are introductory qualifications, roughly equivalent to a GCSE grade D-G and taking about 60 hours of study to complete. Subjects covered would include equality, diversity and inclusion; introduction to the role of a social care worker; health and safety; and awareness of safeguarding and duty of care.

Level 2 and 3 qualifications build on the knowledge gained in level 1 and expand on the skills achieved.

Level 2 and 3 Diplomas

Level 2 diplomas in Health and Social Care expand on the knowledge already gained at level 1 (if relevant) and assume that the person taking the qualification is either already working in care (mainly under supervision) but wants recognition of current skills, or are looking to achieve their first role. In certain level 2 and 3 diplomas, the learner can choose to specialise in the area that interests them or is most relevant, including

  • Learning disability services
  • End of life Care
  • Dementia Care
  • Residential Care
  • Domiciliary Care
  • Healthcare support

The time commitment for a Level 2 diploma is often significantly higher than the certificate level qualifications, with the City & Guilds in Adult Care level 2 diploma taking 460 hours to complete.

At level 3, the learner is assumed to be in a senior capacity or to be intending to take on more leadership responsibilities. These qualifications can take up to 580 hours to complete so require a significant commitment to learning.
As well as mandatory units such as:

  • Safeguarding and protection in care settings
  • Promote health, safety and wellbeing in care settings
  • Duty of care in care settings
  • Promote person-centred approaches in care settings

there are also many optional unit choices so that learners can build a qualification most relevant to them and their setting. Optional choices include:

  • Support individuals to eat and drink
  • Contribute to the care of a deceased person
  • Undertake agreed pressure area care
  • Move and position individuals in accordance with their care plan
  • Safe practice when visiting individuals in their home
  • Understand and implement a person-centred approach to the care and support of individuals with dementia

Helping Hands’ carer training has always been mapped to the Care Certificate standards, which “define the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of specific job roles in the health and social care sectors”. We have won awards in the past for our comprehensive covering of essential and supplementary care content in our training. Additionally, Helping Hands was the only full-service home care provider to be awarded Skills for Care accreditation for our carer training.

Developing care skills

Care skills should always be developed in a nurturing environment, with an experienced carer acting as a mentor to the person just beginning. Helping Hands always ‘buddies up’ new carers with experienced colleagues when they first go to visit their customers, so that the experience isn’t too daunting in the beginning. We take our responsibilities towards our customers wellbeing incredibly seriously and therefore we want our carers to feel confident when they start with us, especially if they’re new to care altogether.

Customers and their loved ones can have confidence in us to equip our carers with the necessary skills to do the best job possible, including guiding them through work-based qualifications to extend their knowledge further. This knowledge can then be immediately applied to their customers’ care, ensuring the highest standards of support possible.

Qualifications for nursing care

Helping Hands offers nursing care at home through specially trained carers supported by our own team of Clinical nurses. This way, our carers can be given greater knowledge of their customer’s condition that will ensure even complex care needs are expertly supported in the customer’s own home.

Additionally, for carers who wish to take on additional clinical responsibilities, they may be able to train as a Nursing Associate, a new role introduced by the NHS to bridge the gap between health care support workers and qualified nurses. Trainee Nursing Associates study for a Foundation degree to enable them to have additional clinical responsibilities which will vary depending on their work setting, however, these could include:

  • Undertaking venepuncture and ECGs
  • Supporting individuals and their families and carers when faced with unwelcome news and life-changing diagnoses
  • Performing and recording clinical observations such as blood pressure, temperature, respirations, and pulse
  • Discussing and sharing information with registered nurses on a patients’ condition, behaviour, activity, and responses
  • Ensuring the privacy, dignity, and safety of individuals is maintained at all times
  • Recognising issues relating to safeguarding vulnerable children and adults
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