The caring profession is vital to the wellbeing of our society, and the people who work within it contribute disproportionately to the quality of life of some of our most vulnerable and elderly citizens.
However, a career in caring is not universally regarded by those outside the sector as a particularly desirable lifestyle option, having earned a bad press over the years regarding long hours and relatively modest rewards.
What this view does not recognise is that for many people – including those who have not necessarily followed an academic career path – caring can provide excellent opportunities which fit in perfectly with the way they want to live their lives.
Here are five reasons why employment as a carer can provide fulfilling and rewarding employment:
Flexible hours: It is in the nature of the caring sector that many of the employees are women who often have significant family-related commitments which would prevent them from considering a traditional nine to five job.
Looking after children, or elderly or disabled relatives is time consuming and unpredictable. It is possible when working as a carer, however, to agree hours which fit round these commitments while also providing a service at a time which is of value to the employer.
Most employers value the flexibility that carers can offer, since looking after their clients is also a 24-hour a day duty with the frequent potential for the need for sudden and unexpected extra cover.
Job satisfaction: Helping other selflessly is one of mankind’s greatest attributes and the satisfaction that can arise from easing an elderly person through their day is cited by many carers as one of the great benefits of the job.
Going home at the end of a day in the knowledge that someone who could have been your mother or father is more comfortable and content as a result of your efforts is a reward not found in many vocations.
Companionship: Every resident in a care home, or individual trying to carry on in their own home, is a unique human being with a story to tell. And sometimes the stories can be fascinating, of lives richly lived and loves won and lost.
For a carer to function properly, he or she must have the time to stop and listen to the people in their charge and to give them the time and attention they so often desperately wish for.
A dedicated carer can become a real friend to a vulnerable person whose own friends and acquaintances may have passed on. Helping to relieve the curse of loneliness is one of the job’s most satisfying rewards.
Regular training: Good employers will hire carers because of their attributes of kindness and compassion rather than on qualifications, but they will also want to build up their carers’ skill sets – and, as a consequence, their future employability.
Training on the job is often reckoned to be the most valuable form of learning – practical skills backed up by progressive qualification achievements can turn a job as a carer into a career.
Feedback from clients: This is what can make a carer’s day. The genuineness of an older person’s smile, a few grateful words or perhaps a personal card on a birthday or Christmas – knowing that you have made a difference as only a carer can.
David Fairweather is Staff Training and Development Co-ordinator at Bright Care, the domiciliary care experts.