Care assistants work in a range of care settings and make a valuable contribution in all areas of health and social care. Care assistants work under the supervision of nursing staff in some settings, but many work on their own or with other care assistants, either in clients' own homes or in residential care. All care assistants are now expected to undergo a training program, where they provide evidence of good practice, are assessed and gain qualifications
Personal Qualities Needed
Not everybody will make a good care assistant. You have to have an interest in other people and exhibit effective communication skills. You should be able to empathise with a person who may be ill or distressed.You will sometimes have to deal tactfully with people who are upset, or even abusive. The work itself can be distressing and you must have a support system of your own to help you deal with this.
Other Qualities Needed
You need to be physically fit for some care assistant work, as manual handling may be involved. You must be prepared to work shifts in some care settings. Most care assistants will be required to work unsocial hours. Your own health needs to be good, and in some cases you might be asked to be immunised, against diseases like hepatitis B or influenza. You need good interpersonal skills; in fact, this is a key quality required from the care assistant.
What You Will Learn
Study courses will always cover nondiscriminatory practice. You will gain a basic understanding of the equality legislation and your responsibilities in ensuring that clients do not suffer from discrimination. You will be taught about health and safety, and infection control. You will learn about the various types of abuse and your role in protecting your clients. A detailed account of confidentiality requirements will be covered in your training. You may learn about pressure area care and nutrition.
In addition to theories of health and social care, the care assistant will also need training in many practical skills. You will need to learn how to move people safely, and you will learn how to assist clients with their hygiene needs. You may be trained in the safe handling of medication, and learn about the nutrition involved with the food you may be required to help clients eat, so you will learn to do this in a way that preserves your client's dignity and safety, and possibly educates them too.
The care assistant must be trustworthy, since you may have access to many personal details of clients' lives. They may also confide in you, as your relationship develops. If your work involves visiting the client at home, you need to be discreet and respectful. As part of your training you will learn all about client rights--in practice, a key part of your role is to ensure that these rights are upheld.