You may not need a degree to work in social care, but many graduates with a desire to help the vulnerable are finding rewarding careers within the sector. Being a carer comes with emotional pressure and demanding challenges, but for some graduates working in social care has proved the most satisfying step they have ever taken.
“I was going to do my master’s, but then I realised I needed to do something meaningful and important for other people. After spending all that time studying, I just wanted to do something real,” says Colette Lotscher, a graduate with a degree in literature who now works as a personal care assistant in Greenwich, London. At present, Lotscher is working with children with mental or physical disabilities and their families, helping parents and burnt out mothers to cope with the day-to-day reality of caring for a child with special needs. “It is tough, but you grow so much, you learn how to be tolerant and to become a better person”, she says.
Social care workers are often confused with social workers, but the two are distinctly different; you need a degree to practise as a social worker, but you don’t need any particular qualiﬁcations to go into social care as a carer. Social work usually deals with case-by-case scenarios, where a situation is complex enough to involve local authorities, the NHS (National Health Service), the police or probation services, whereas social care involves delivering practical and emotional support to the vulnerable, elderly or ill – either in residential homes or to families in need.
Over the next few years, the Department of Health is expected to advertise 200,000 job vacancies in the social care sector – providing opportunities for graduates and career changers. Phil Hope, care services minister, says:"As the number of people who may need help with day-to-day tasks continues to grow, this sector will offer increasing number of opportunities for those looking for jobs. Workers in social care have a big, positive impact on the people they work with.”