Is care and support work right for you?
The care and support sector welcomes, and needs, people from all types of backgrounds and all parts of the community. The workforce needs to be as diverse as the people it supports.
Coming from a background or life experience completely different to care and support work is not a barrier to entering the care and support sector – in fact, this can be a great asset.
Your life experiences may have given you skills that will be highly valued by your employer. The people you care for will also often respond and connect best with someone who shares some elements of their experience.
This could include being an older person or having lived experience of disability yourself. If you speak another language, that could be an advantage.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can bring valuable cultural knowledge and life experience that can be transferred to paid care and support work.
Wherever you have come from, there will be a path into the care and support sector for you if you have the interest and the right personal qualities.
Quiz - would you be a good fit?
If you are wondering whether you are right for the care and support sector, and if care and support work is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
Do you like working with people?
This is the number one attribute that will make you a good fit for the care and support sector.
Working in the care and support sector is all about relationships. You will be working directly with people on a daily basis. The people you work with will have different needs, stories and experiences. Care and support workers in particular develop rewarding relationships with many of the people they work with.
If this sounds exciting to you, then care and support work may be just what you’re looking for!
Does helping other people make you feel good?
Care and support work is not just about assisting people with day-to-day tasks. You will be helping the people you work with to achieve their goals, short-term and long term, and help them to gain or maintain independence, happiness and fulfilment. You will share experiences, develop strong relationships and celebrate successes with the people you work with.
If you want to find a way to give back to the community and make a real-world difference in people’s lives, care and support work can help you to do that.
Do you like variety and can you adapt to change?
Care and support work can be incredibly varied. You can work with all types of people with different needs and different support requirements. This means the support you provide, and where and how you provide it, will be different for each person.
The activities you do and experiences you have will also vary from day to day – no two days will be the same!
If you like variety in your work and enjoy trying new things, care and support work might be for you.
Do you want to be surrounded by people who share your values?
People who work in the care and support sector often have very strong values and are motivated to make a difference in people’s lives. Employers are looking for people who are value-driven, and can embody the positive change their organisations want to make. One of the best things about joining the care and support sector is joining a community of like-minded people.
Are you compassionate?
In care and support work, you will be tailoring the support you provide to the individual you’re working with. This means you will need to be able to see things from their perspective, understand their needs, and be able to provide support in the way they need and want it done. You will also need to provide emotional support to the person you care for or their families on occasion.
Compassion and empathy are important attributes for a care and support worker to have.
Are you patient?
As a care and support worker, you will be working with people who need care or support for different reasons. The person you are supporting may have limited mobility, or communication or learning difficulties, physical or intellectual disability or mental ill health. The people you support may take longer to work through tasks with you, or have difficulties taking up new skills you are helping them to learn. Patience is a very important attribute to have.
Do you like taking initiative and having ownership of your role?
Your employer, peers and professional networks will provide you with support, however you will often be working independently on a day-to-day basis. You will have many opportunities to find solutions to problems, shape your role, and celebrate successes with the people you support, as a result of your work.
Are you ok helping people with daily tasks and hygiene?
While not all jobs will involve helping people with tasks like dressing, bathing, toileting and eating, some will. This can be an integral part of supporting people in their daily lives.
If this is a deterrent for you, you may consider different types of roles in the care and support workforce, such as in administration and management. However, understanding these aspects of care and support would be beneficial for any role in the workforce.
Can you be responsible for things like cleanliness and confidentiality?
In this field of work, there will be many protocols and processes in place to protect the people you support, your organisation, and you.
For example, as a care and support worker, you may be trusted with sensitive and personal information about the people you support. You will need to know how to protect and record this information, and what the restrictions are about how, to whom and when you may divulge it.
As another example, some people you support may be particularly vulnerable to infections so you will need to maintain the very highest standards of cleanliness and personal hygiene.
You will need to follow things like infection-control protocols generally and for outbreaks, such as COVID-19.
Are you keen to learn new things?
All people who enter the care and support sector should have a willingness to learn – to learn new skills and to learn about the needs and experiences of the people they support.
There are many opportunities to learn on the job and to further your career in a direction of your choice.
If you answered yes to most of these questions, the care and support sector is a good fit for you
Remember – there are lots of different roles available
If care and support work doesn’t sound right for you, there are many other roles available in the care and support workforce that may still be a good fit. You may be more drawn to management or administration positions in the care and support workforce. You may prefer to help people remain in their own homes for longer by providing home maintenance, gardening and domestic assistance. Or, you may be studying in an allied health field and be looking for part time or casual work – in this case the care and support workforce may be a good fit for you while you are pursuing your allied health qualification.