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A job as a carer usually evolves with experience, but do you need qualifications to begin with? Find out here.

A job as a carer usually involves helping a vulnerable individual with personal care tasks, like washing, dressing and using the toilet. Live in care for an older person  may also involve food preparation, feeding and giving medication as well as housework, laundry and shopping if caring for someone in their own home. As a home care operative, you might be asked to be help your client to socialise and access outside activities, enabling them to find ways to continue doing the things that they enjoy.

Will I need a formal qualification?

Although some employers will request a qualification, a good carer is generally considered to be somebody who has the right qualities as a person, rather than the right qualifications. A good carer is somebody who can relate to people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, can communicate well, show respect and sensitivity towards clients and remains calm under pressure.

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If an employer does request qualifications, this will usually be an NVQ 2 in care or a diploma in health and social care. However, if your potential employer is convinced that you are the right person for the job they will often be more concerned about whether you are willing to work towards a qualification on the job rather than already having one. The standard areas of a care qualification include values, safe care, supported living, communication and handling information. The NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) scheme has now changed to the QCF (Quality and Credit Framework) scheme and this too will be replaced in early 2018 by the RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework). Although this all sounds a little complicated, the principles of learning and majority of content will remain the same. The schemes enable you to earn credits. Each credit requires around 10 hours of learning. These credits build up to make units and units build towards qualifications. On average, a level 2 qualification will take around a year to complete. This qualification then stays with you and will be recognised in other places of work.

The Care Certificate

All employees new to care work are required to complete new, standardised training called the Care Certificate. This is made up of 15 components that are key to developing skills as a carer. Once the Care Certificate has been achieved, it will be recognised by other employers so is a great thing to have on your CV. Although the Care Certificate is not accredited, elements of it will count towards a QCF if they are witnessed by a qualified assessor.

Experience

Just as important as a qualification is experience. Employers will place a lot of emphasis on evidence of experience. This doesn't have to be purely care based. Evidencing customer service skills, where you needed to be friendly, professional and helpful will be valued by employers. The principle of looking after customers is along the same lines as looking after clients that you would be caring for. Experience of caring for someone at home, perhaps a family member or friend is also very meaningful as it shows you have an understanding of what is required when looking after a vulnerable person.