There will be more than one million vacancies for social care workers by 2037 yet Anchor’s research found that 78% of people are sadly unlikely to consider starting a career in care.
I started working in the care sector two years ago when I was 19 and I’ve not looked back since. It is such a fulfilling and important job.
I previously worked in retail and catering which were poorly paid, the hours were doing no wonders for my social life and I left every shift feeling empty, bored and utterly unfulfilled. In late 2016 I reached a crossroads when I moved out of my mum’s house and truly became independent.
I’d signed up with a recruitment agency and I got a call regarding an interview. I’d never considered working in care before and had never even stepped foot in a care home but the first thing I noticed about Anchor’s Heathside in Woking where I now work, was how welcoming and pleasant the people were. It was a lovely environment which totally blew away my previous perceptions of what care is about.
Care has the working environment I thought didn’t exist. Everyone is so encouraging and no matter what sort of day you face there’s always a silver lining at the end of it that just makes you feel confident in yourself and at home.
There is a lot of unfounded stigma associated with care and it disappoints me that the research found that 71% of parents wouldn’t encourage their children to work in the sector.
One of the biggest issues is that care is still perceived as a woman’s career – a third of people surveyed thought that – yet there are lots of good job opportunities in social care for men and women. It’s clearly not the case that care is for women only but some men find it difficult to do something so selfless and see the act of being around older people as “unmanly” or “feminine”. That view needs to change especially as currently men make up just 18% of the social care workforce. Men need to be encouraged to consider a career in care to address this shortage so that the most vulnerable people in society can get the care they deserve, and which enables them to have happy and independent lives as possible.
And the demand for good male carers will continue to rise – with more men moving into care homes, they are asking to be cared for by male carers. It’s not just the personal care side of things but because of their shared interests.
Anchor like many care home providers is doing its bit. They have introduced lots of initiatives to address the shortfall of carers. Their award-winning apprenticeships have introduced young people to the care sector with many progressing along their career path.
The training is fantastic and a key focus in Anchor whether it is the three-month induction period where you’re given all the knowledge you need to provide good quality care, such as dementia training, or the skills on how to look after residents without injuring yourself, such as learning how to move a resident into a bed comfortably for them but without hurting your back.
As somebody who started off having to Google what dementia was, I now have a real understanding of how to deal with the many situations I experience daily in a care home. You can take your training to whatever level you see fit, earning promotions to become a senior member of staff and even management. These courses are readily available to help you “climb the ladder”. The power to control where my career is going is something I never experienced in retail or catering. I hope to become a Team Leader as I enjoy care work. Anchor provides me the opportunity to do that.
And for those who are unsure and would need to find out more about care before committing to applying for a job, there are volunteering opportunities so people can see the positive impact a carer has on the lives of older people.
But the government needs to do more, too, to boost the number of school leavers and older workers applying for a job in care. Despite the great work carers across the country do, the sector is not valued by wider society and carers often feel let down by the actions of successive governments. Anchor’s research highlighted this: more than a fifth of people say the work is not valued by government, while 67% think a career in social care is undervalued by society.
The government must help change the perception of the care sector and encourage more people, especially men, to think about a rewarding career in care. The fact that so many young men disregard the opportunities a job in care can offer means they are missing out on a potentially great career.
I want to continue changing perceptions of what a good care assistant should typically be and hope to encourage other men my age to choose a career in care. I love it and many young men would too if they would give it a chance.