What is the work like?
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Work in the care and support sector is varied.
What you would be doing as part of your job depends on the needs of the people you support, and the type of job you have.
What does a care and support worker do?
Care and support workers look after the wellbeing of people, such as older people, people with disability and veterans. They provide help with day-to-day living, and practical and emotional support. The main goal of care and support work is to empower the people you work with to live as independently and as fully as possible.
Organisations in the care and support sector put people first. The goals of the person you support are typically set out in a plan that shows their support needs and the activities they will take part in. As a care or support worker, you put this plan into action.
Different people will need support for different reasons. It is not just based on what they can and cannot do, but what they’re interested in and what they want to achieve.
What you might do
You may need to provide in-home support, by helping with daily care activities the person is unable to perform alone, such as showering, getting dressed, hygiene, taking meals, taking medication and moving about the home or residence.
You may be assisting with household duties, such as cleaning, cooking and gardening, to help the person stay in and maintain their own home.
You may be helping with practical tasks, such as helping the person you are supporting pay their bills, get to appointments, find and apply for jobs, complete paperwork or do grocery shopping.
You may be supporting older people, people with disabilities and veterans to pursue their hobbies and interests, to get out of the house to meet friends and family, take a class, go to the movies, exercise or take part in community activities.
You may be helping the person to learn new skills, such as using public transport or managing a budget, so they can live more fully and independently.
You may need to provide emotional and social support – to listen to the person’s thoughts and concerns, provide companionship, help them build confidence and express themselves and help them to build and maintain a social support network.
You may do some of these tasks, or all of these tasks. It all depends on the person, or people, you support.
What you will do
You will build a relationship with the person you support, learn to understand their preferred way to communicate, their choices about their support, their interests and their goals.
You will work with other professionals involved in the person’s care, such as occupational therapists, counsellors, nurses or doctors. You will support the person to plan follow up activities at home.
There may be some reporting involved to record the activities the person is involved in. You may have to report regularly on the support you have given, the person’s wellbeing, any incidents or the progress they have made towards their goals.
Who you support
People require support for many different reasons.
While all care and support work roles have a lot in common, working with particular groups of people – such as people with disability, older people or veterans – has its own tasks, rewards and challenges.
Where you work
What setting you work in depends on the needs and circumstances of the people you support.
You may be providing support in the person’s home, out in the community, in a specialised setting like a care home, supported housing or day centres, or in a health care setting like a clinic or hospital.
Getting more specialised
The type of work we’ve talked about so far is entry-level support work. There are many opportunities to develop your skills within this role, and support work of this kind can be very rewarding.
Some people, however, may want to take their skills and experiences in a different direction.
For example you may:
- have an interest in a particular stream of support – for example, recreation and activity planning
- want to work in a more therapeutic capacity – for example, physiotherapy
- want to work in a more medical capacity – for example, administering medications or overseeing treatment plans for conditions like diabetes
- provide support for people with more complex needs – for example, behaviour support for complex cognitive disabilities.
Having a background in care and support work will put you in a good position to achieve any of these goals.
Some positions you will see advertised will focus on one, or only a few, streams of support, such as Recreation Coordinators, Personal Carers or Transport Personnel, allowing you to apply for jobs where your interests lie.
If you wish to progress to more therapeutic, medical or complex support, you may need additional qualifications, training and accreditation or registration. Training and education pathways are available to assist you to progress to these roles.