Residential care worker job description

Updated February 21, 2017

A residential care worker takes care of patients in a residential setting. He or she may treat physical or psychological ailments, or simply care for individuals who are unable to care for themselves. Residential care workers may work in personal residences or in group home settings.


The duties of the residential care worker can vary widely depending on where the individual works. Some assist patients with daily living and hygiene tasks, while others focus on rehabilitation and recovery. The residential care worker may work with children, the elderly, sick or disabled patients. Those that work in personal residences often travel to different homes to treat patients for a few hours at a time, while others may work a full 8-hour shift in a single home, giving the family a break from the patient's care requirements. In a hospice setting, the residential care worker provides medical care while maximising the patient's quality of life.


Different types of residential care workers can be categorised by where they work as well as by the specific tasks they perform.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately one-third of residential care workers are self-employed. These individuals work in patient's homes, while others work in nursing homes, children's facilities, hospices or rehab centres. The residential care worker may help patients dress or prepare meals, while others perform physical rehabilitation or therapy services. In a facility where patients are not necessarily ill, such as a nursing home, the residential care worker can organise and assist with recreational activities and transportation in addition to medical care.

Training and Licensing

All 50 states require residential care workers to obtain licensing before taking a job working with patients. Applicants can find training programs at local technical schools or community colleges and must take a written exam in order to receive a license.

More specialised residential care workers often pursue degrees in nursing, medicine, psychology or social work. These individuals can handle tasks such as therapy, psychological treatment or medical care for patients.


Those preparing for a career in this field should be prepared for physically and emotionally demanding days. Residential care workers often have to help patients with dressing or rehabilitation, which requires physical strength. In many settings, these workers are also faced with the stress of working closely with patients who are seriously ill or disabled. Residential care workers must be prepared to work all shifts, including nights and holidays. They should also be prepared to handle unpleasant tasks, including cleaning blood or bodily fluids, or working with potentially violent patients.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those employed in residential nursing professions earned an average of £7.40 an hour as of May 2008. Those who specialise in psychiatric care earned £8.30 an hour on average. Of course, salaries can go much higher for specialists in this field. According to "Salary Expert," annual salaries for residential care workers range from £31,161 to £40,047 depending on region.

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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.