Not just anyone can make a success of a career in care. Some people try it and soon discover that it isn’t for them at all. This is because the challenges you face as a care worker are often very different from those that you will find in office work and other forms of employment. Sometimes, it is difficult to separate your professional life from your home life, especially if you have had a tough day dealing with people who might be very sick or approaching the end of their lives.

That said, care work needs a wide range of different people and different personalities. This is because there are often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to go about certain aspects of care work. There are guidelines you need to work within – it isn’t a free-for-all, after all – but sometimes just getting the first informal interaction with someone you’ll be caring for will make all the difference. Saying ‘hello’ and introducing yourself can sometimes be just as important as the way you subsequently administer the care plan you’re working to. This brings us to the first attribute all care service providers are looking for in new recruits, the ability to be personable.

Person-Centred

Being personable is perhaps the most important trait in care work. After all, careers in care involve dealing with people. In other words, care work isn’t merely a given set of processes or procedures you have to carry out but a series of interactions with living, breathing people. Therefore, if you struggle to look someone in the eye or don’t find it easy to chat informally to put people at ease, then care work may not be for you. Remember, too, that being person-centred means being able to cooperate with colleagues and managers, as well.

Attentiveness

Attention to detail is extremely important in care work. If a care plan says an ointment needs to be administered twice a day, for example, then you’ll need to check how many times it has been given before doing so again. Updating care plans and checking off things once they’ve been done is crucial not just for the care recipient but for other care workers, too. Of course, being professionally attentive also means going the extra distance when someone needs it and not just doing the bare minimum.

Dedication

Care work is a professional career that some people feel a strong affinity for. Whether or not you consider care work to be your life’s vocation, you need to be dedicated to it while you’re doing it. In short, it isn’t a job that you will want to do for six months or so while your other life goals are put on hold. The job is basically too demanding and sometimes emotionally draining for that. Care service providers will consider you for a job if you are new to care work but they won’t be so interested if you are currently training for another career and just want a stop-gap position you think will be easy.

Empathy

According to a leading care service provider in Essex, Anglian Care, the ability to empathise with care recipients is something that nearly all employers in the care sector value highly. What this means is the ability to see things not from your own perspective but from the care recipient’s point of view. Why is this an important attribute to have? The answer is that carers who are more empathetic tend to offer better care that leads to improved outcomes. This is because being empathetic seems to put care recipients at their ease and keep them calm as care is delivered.

Inquisitiveness

It is worth underlining that care work can be very rewarding, professionally speaking. However, it is also a job that can lead to career progression. Good employers in the care industry spot talented people and will offer training so that you can step up into supervisory and management roles. In order to show the right sorts of attributes to make a career in care work, you will need to show inquisitiveness or the desire to learn more and to discover new ways of doing things. Inquisitiveness is sought-after in many types of jobs but it is especially useful in the health and care sectors where new ways of working and delivering care are being developed all the time.

Teamwork

Finally, professional care work relies on teams. As such, the ability to work well with others, to support them and to accept the support they give you, is a key skill you’ll need. Part of teamwork is identifying your weaknesses and your strengths – as well as those you work with, of course. As such, this attribute requires a degree of professional honesty and the ability to express yourself frankly without being discourteous.