Health & Social Care and Childcare
Take care of your community…
Every day, people from across society – babies, new mums, vulnerable adults, the elderly, people of all ages with learning difficulties – need help. If you work in this sector you might be supporting any of them as they face a host of different challenges. It’s a career that can be tough at times, but also rewarding.
About the Health & Social Care and Childcare sectors
Working in healthcare can mean a lot of different things. There are frontline roles, where you’re working directly with patients or people in your community; management roles, where you’re heading up a team; or support roles, taking care of the administrative side of things (usually in an office). They all contribute to keeping the country healthy and happy.
What Can I Do?
The NHS is one of the greatest social institutions on the planet and a large number of people working in Health & Social Care will be employed by it. But it’s not the only option, as you might also work in the private sector, for your local authority or perhaps for a charity.
A social care role might involve helping people in the community, such as the elderly, disabled or people with learning disabilities. You could be visiting them at home, cooking for them, helping them complete tasks around the house or perhaps transporting them; or you could be helping people in residential homes and special care centres.
Health care workers are more likely to be in hospitals or private clinics. Again, you’ll be helping people but their needs and conditions might be different. This strand is more about supporting doctors and nurses or taking care of patients directly, doing things like making and serving food, cleaning wards or taking care of paperwork.
Childcare professionals do just that: care for children. While some of this is about playing games (hurrah!), it’s also about supervising children and young people at school or nursery, helping in playgroups, offering childminding services and generally contributing to children’s development.
There are various career-specific skills you’ll need for the different jobs available in the sector. Healthcare support workers might need strong literacy and IT skills if they’re in administrative roles, for example, while childcare workers will need to know how to engage with children of varying ages and abilities, and how to keep them safe.
Similarly, health and social care professionals will need some clinical skills, a good understanding of the human body and health issues, and know all about hygiene. They’ll also need to be great communicators, again with strong literacy and IT skills.
Don’t worry, you don’t need those skills right now: they can be developed through training. What you will need already is a caring, compassionate attitude. The ability to listen to people of all ages, stay positive and make their days better is vital, so think carefully about whether or not it’s for you. This is an area where getting some work experience before you commit to a course could be really helpful; your teachers will be able to advise you on how to go about it.
Here are some of the jobs available in health & social care and childcare:
- healthcare support worker
- night care assistant
- mental health outreach worker
- substance misuse worker
- early years worker or assistant
- assistant youth support and community worker
- nursery teaching assistant
Once you’ve got some experience and further qualifications you can move on to more senior roles such as team leader, supervisor and manager.
There are plenty of different ways to take care of your healthcare skills…
- Work-based & work-related qualifications
Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:
- Health and Social Care
- Children’s Play, Learning and Development
- Healthcare Practice
If you’re wanting a management or administrative role, programmes in those areas will open the door. Don’t forget: BTECs etc. can also pave the way for a degree.
There are specific health and social care Apprenticeships at various levels:
- Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
- Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
- Level Four / Five (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers
- Adult Care Worker
- Healthcare Support Worker
- Adult Social Care
A Levels and Bachelors Degrees
Useful A Levels might include:
- Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects
- Health and Social Care
Already know that a degree is a way you want to break into the caring professions? Head to UCAS and find out what A Levels (or Scottish Highers / IB modules) you’ll need for the course that interests you.
Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelors programmes in Health and Social Care, Early Years Childcare, and Childhood and Youth Studies; you could also consider degrees in related fields like Social Work, nursing or medicine.
Life in Health & Social Care or Childcare
Careers in health & social care and childcare are often quite practical and hands-on, so prepare to get the know the human body and mind in a lot more detail (never fear, experience and training will help you develop the professional detachment you need).
You should also get acquainted with a good alarm clock, as many health & social care roles are likely to be on a shift pattern. That means your days could start early in the morning or late at night, depending on your exact job and the people you’re looking after. During your shift you might be in people’s homes, at hospital, working in admin departments…there’s a lot of variety.
Childcare roles will tend to be more focused around daytime hours, probably starting early and finishing in the late afternoon. You might be in a nursery when parents drop children off and collect them, and spend the day keeping them occupied (and safe) with different activities, from active play to reading and even making sure they get naps during the day.
Make no mistake, these are hard jobs that will bring you into contact with challenging people and situations: you might need to dress and undress patients, help them go to the toilet and dish out medicine; or you could be on the receiving end of tantrums and bad behaviour from children (or their parents).
However, you’ll also be making a genuine difference to the lives of others. Many healthcare professionals love the knowledge that they’re helping people and trying to make the world a better place. It’s an important job.
You could work in…
- care homes
- private clinics
- patients’ houses
At a glance: paths into the industry
- Vocational qualifications, eg BTEC, HNC / HND
- A Levels, IB or Scottish Highers
- Apprenticeships & Degree Apprenticeships
- Bachelors Degrees
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in the health & social care industry near you at Careermap
Get ahead in healthcare
You can boost your chances of getting accepted onto a training course by volunteering for a local organisation or charity in the healthcare sector that interests you. It’s a great way to get skills, boost your confidence and give something back to your community.
1. The NHS is the largest employer in the sector, with more than 1.5 million employees – it’s one of the top five largest workforces in the world.
2. There are over 350 different careers available within the NHS.
3. According to a Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years survey, 96% of professionals in the sector said they find their work rewarding.