Responsibilities of a Carer (Plus How to Become One)
Updated 28 June 2023
If you're compassionate and you like the idea of helping and comforting people who are sick, elderly or disabled, you might make an excellent carer. Working in hospitals, care facilities and private homes, they support their patients by completing important tasks, such as checking vital signs or arranging transportation. Learning more about what this job involves can help you decide if this is the right career choice for you. In this article, we explore what the responsibilities of a carer are, outline how to become one and discuss what are the differences between care assistants and nurses.
What are the responsibilities of a carer?
If you're interested in this career, you might be wondering what the responsibilities of a carer actually are. Mainly, their role is to provide their clients with holistic support, encompassing their individual physical and emotional needs. Their clients usually have an illness, addiction, disability or frailty that makes this external support necessary. Generally, their duties change depending on their employer and type of patient. Their employers can include hospitals, nursing facilities and elderly care homes. This is an overview of what their typical responsibilities may include:
Supporting the client's health
An important duty of a carer is to support their client or patient's health. This can include various tasks, ranging from attending to their medical needs to ensuring they're well fed. The care assistant might perform these duties when supporting the health of their patient:
creating a care plan outlining the client's specific needs
supervising the client's medications and ordering new supplies when needed
communicating with the client's health care team
monitoring the patient's vitals
supervising the patient's hydration and nutrition
Managing the household
Another common responsibility of carers is to help manage a client's household. This is typically the case when the care assistant is employed by a family or agency and works at the patient's private residence. In this situation, their duties can include:
providing or arranging transportation
shopping for groceries
preparing healthy meals that suit the client's dietary requirements
Helping the client maintain personal hygiene
Many people who need carers are unable to look after their own personal hygiene. This can be because their age, illness or disability prevents them from physically taking care of themselves. To help them, their carer can perform a number of practical tasks, including:
assisting the client during showers or baths
helping their client use the toilet
transferring the client to and from their bed
ensuring the environment is clean and organised
Providing emotional support and stimulation
While many of the carer's responsibilities include performing physical tasks, it's important to remember that they're also there to provide patients with emotional support. This is crucial to the overall well-being of their patients, especially when the care assistant is typically around the patient for the majority of the day. To fulfil this role, they might perform the following tasks:
initiating activities that provide mental stimulation
acting as the client's support system
conversing with the client in a compassionate manner
What is the work environment of a care assistant like?
The work environment may vary depending on the specific employer. For example, if you work in a private residence, you likely report to the client or a family member and might also live at the patient's home. Your daily duties can include grocery shopping, providing transportation and performing housekeeping tasks.
Alternatively, if you work in a hospital, you probably report to the head nurse. Your daily responsibilities are likely to include coordinating with the medical staff to provide the best all-around care possible, helping the patients with their personal hygiene and providing them with emotional support during their time at the hospital. Generally, you can expect to spend the majority of your time walking around. It's also likely that your job requires you to travel.
Job description sample for care assistants
To give you a better idea of what you might encounter when looking for care assistant jobs, here's a typical job description of a carer for the elderly:
We're looking for a professional and compassionate carer to join us at our assisted living facility for the elderly. The key responsibilities include grooming and feeding our residents, providing comfort to those who need it and creating fun activities to stimulate and entertain our community. The typical day-to-day duties can involve changing the bed linen, transferring residents to and from their beds and serving meals and drinks.
You're the perfect candidate if you have strong organisation skills, tireless levels of empathy and excellent interpersonal skills. Your written and verbal communication skills are also of an outstanding quality. You have a minimum GCE 'N' level or a similar diploma. It's also advantageous if you have a relevant WSQ Certificate in Health Care Support and at least one year of related work experience.
How to become a carer
If you want to become a carer, you might consider following these steps:
1. Complete secondary school
Typically, there are no strict entry requirements, but employers usually want candidates to have graduated from secondary school. If you want to obtain a senior role in this career, it's advisable that you pursue higher education. Consider obtaining a bachelor's degree, preferably in a discipline related to health care. This usually takes three to four years to complete.
2. Gain certification
Although it's not obligatory, many employers prefer it if candidates have certification. Doing so can establish your professional credibility, expand your network and teach you important skills. For example, you might learn how to administer a catheter, manage a patient's chronic illness or identify the early signs of dementia. There are several certifications you can choose from, including:
ITE Skills Certificate in Health Sciences (In-patient)
WSQ Certificate in Health Care Support (Nursing Care)
3. Obtain relevant work experience
Work experience isn't always a strict requirement since many care assistant positions offer on-the-job training, but it can impress potential employers. Some may ask for one year, while others ask for five years. The latter is usually only a requirement for candidates applying to senior roles. Consider working in a customer-facing role that teaches you how to talk to people, such as customer service. You can also work in health care, social services or eldercare.
Related: Top 20 Customer Service Skills
4. Develop your skills
Strengthening and expanding your skill set can make you a more attractive candidate to employers. It can also help you provide your future patients with better care. These are some qualities and skills that are important for care assistants to possess:
5. Update your resume
It's important to tailor your resume to each individual job you seek. This increases the chances of an employer viewing you as a desirable candidate. Remember to include relevant information about your education, work experience and skills.
Is a carer the same as a nurse?
While these two roles may seem similar, there are some crucial differences between a carer and a nurse. These include their:
Duties and responsibilities
While carers perform nursing duties, such as monitoring vitals or helping the patient take medication, their level of responsibility differs from that of a nurse. The care assistant's main role is to take care of the patient's overall environment by attending to their basic needs, such as their mental stimulation and physical movement.
Meanwhile, nurses train specifically to take care of the patient's medical needs. Because they're medical professionals, they have greater responsibility for the patient's health and perform tasks that are more complex, requiring advanced training. These may include coordinating with doctors, counselling patients and implementing treatment plans.
The educational requirements between the two careers are very different because nurses are held to a higher standard. While employers typically ask carers to have at least a diploma from secondary school, the process to becoming a nurse is longer. Before becoming a registered and practising nurse, they complete several educational prerequisites, including:
a bachelor's degree or diploma in nursing from a university or polytechnic institution
licensure exam from the Singapore Nursing Board (SNB)
the SNB practising certificate
While their salaries are relatively similar, nurses generally have more opportunities for advancement and pay increases. For example, while the national average salary of a nurse is $2,389 per month, the national average salary of a registered nurse increases to $3,343 per month. They can also influence their salary by obtaining team leader and management positions.
The national average salary of a caregiver is $2,458 per month. While nurses might have a higher range of possible salaries, the demand for carers is increasing rapidly as the population ages. To increase your potential income, you might consider gaining certifications or specialising in a particular area.
Please note that none of the companies, organisations or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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