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Who works in social care?

What’s it like working in social care as a support worker?

Being a support worker is a challenging but rewarding role that provides an opportunity to make a real and positive difference to someone else’s life every day.

Much of what support workers get involved in is driven by ensuring the people they support are able to live with as much independence and choice as possible. Common tasks include supporting people to: –

  • get out and about, and take part in hobbies and leisure activities
  • prepare food – and enjoy eating it!
  • get ready in the morning, including support with personal care and hygiene
  • achieve goals identified in support plans, such as gaining work experience, or learning to use public transport
  • take medication or attend hospital appointments
  • manage money and bills
  • carry out household chores
  • plan holidays – and sometimes support people to take them
  • socialise with friends, or visit family.

For Hft support workers, the Fusion Model of Support helps ensure that the people we support remain at the centre of everything we do. This means taking a person-centred approach that focuses on understanding the person being supported; how they like to be communicated with, what makes them tick, what frustrates them, and what they want to achieve. This takes time and patience, but when a support worker has the answers to these questions, the impact they can have is immeasurable.

Browse our current job vacancies

What qualifications do support workers need?

You don’t need any specific qualifications or experience to start work for Hft as a support worker, although holding a Diploma in Health and Social Care at level 2 or 3, or an intention to go on to attain one is definitely a positive. Full training is provided to all new starters.

What training do support workers undertake?

At Hft, we combine a range of formal training programmes and experiences to enable people to grow. Every member of staff is given comprehensive induction training, and offered ongoing training and support tailored to their needs, to ensure we continue to offer excellent levels of service and standards. For example, if you’re supporting someone who experiences seizures, you’ll have specialist training on how to deal with this. This will often involve shadowing more experienced staff to give you as much practical training as possible.

Hft has achieved ‘Endorsed Provider’ status under the Skills for Care Endorsement Framework – a mark of quality that is awarded only to providers that deliver the best learning and development programmes in the adult social care sector.

What development opportunities are there for support workers?


Working towards a vocational qualification such as the Diploma in Health and Social Care at Level 2 or 3 is a great way of building your professional development and gaining the skills needed to deliver excellent support.

These qualifications are for people already working in the social care sector who want to demonstrate occupational competence: the behaviour, knowledge and values needed to carry out your role effectively. They cover topics such as promoting person-centred approaches, and the principles of safeguarding and protection in health and social care.

You can take a diploma that follows a generic pathway, or you can choose to specialise in a specific area, such as dementia or learning disabilities.

There are also a range of other qualifications in areas such as diabetes, end of life care and autism. These are useful for people who want to continue their professional development or tailor their learning to their role.

Read more about the various qualification options on Skills for Care’s website.

Career advancement

At Hft we run an ‘Operations Development Pathway’ programme. Staff who express an interest in the programme are provided with diverse training and development opportunities intended to support them in building the skills and knowledge needed to further their career with Hft. Typical development programmes include our ‘Support Worker to Senior Support Worker’ pathway, or our ‘Senior Support Worker to Registered Cluster Manager’ pathway. Staff who have completed their probation period with Hft are eligible to apply for inclusion on one of the programmes.

What skills are important for support workers?

Great support workers are caring, enthusiastic, patient, great communicators and committed to supporting people with learning disabilities to get the most out of life.

What kind of hours do support workers work?

At Hft and many other providers, rotas are based around supported people’s needs. Individual Hft vacancies should indicate what the working hours will be for particular roles – these vary depending on whether the role is part-time or full-time.

For many roles, evening and weekend work is sometimes required, although this will always be planned in advance to allow support workers as much notice as possible.

Are there different kinds of support workers?

Yes, there are lots of different roles available to support staff.

  • Support Workers keep the people they support at the centre of everything they do, working to ensure they have every chance to live the best life possible.
  • Community Support Workers visit people living in their own homes, providing support that helps them live with more independence and choice.
  • Residential Support Workers support people with learning disabilities in a residential care setting to achieve the best possible outcomes.
  • Relief Support Workers carry out the same tasks as Support Workers, and benefit from the same training. The difference is that the role isn’t contracted.
  • Senior Support Workers combine support work with managing a team, and represent a career progression opportunity to Support Workers keen to develop.
  • The Registered Cluster Manager role is an opportunity to take on extra responsibility, gain CQC registered status and develop your leadership talent.

Can I do an apprenticeship in social care?

Support Worker apprenticeships with Hft are a way of undertaking a nationally recognised training and development programme focused on you gaining a Care Certificate, skills, experience, and a Health and Social Care Diploma, while working full time and earning a support worker’s salary.

Paid apprenticeships are a great option for people who are new to the social care sector, or who now want to work towards a formal qualification, perhaps to help further their career.

If you’re interested in apprenticeship opportunities at Hft, browse our current vacancies, or visit GP Strategies Training Ltd, our preferred Apprenticeships training provider.

How many people work in social care?

Skills for Care’s ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England 2017’ report states that there are 1.58 million social care jobs in England. Of those, 820,000 are ‘care worker’ roles and 85,000 are ‘senior care worker’ roles.

Browse our current vacancies to find support work opportunities near you.