A career as a care worker offers countless opportunities to work with children, disabled adults, and elderly people. Care workers care for people in a variety of settings, including residential homes, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes. They often work on a team with other health care professionals, such as registered nurses and social workers, to care for patients and support their individual needs. Some patients may require around-the-clock care, so care workers may work first-, second-, or third-shift hours. In less formal environments such as home health care, they may only work a few hours a day with their patients. The flexibility of the position is an advantage, as it allows for personal growth and change if the care worker desires.
Most common care workers assist patients with daily living activities such as toileting, showering, dressing, eating, and mobility, and may assist with household tasks such as cooking meals or doing laundry. Duties may also include companionship, such as taking clients into the community or engaging them in recreational activities. Care workers have a physically-demanding job in caring for patients that is also mentally-demanding in learning how to deal with people, especially those who may have mental disabilities. Therefore, care workers must truly enjoy working with people and have great patience and the ability to adapt to day-to-day-changes. They must pursue the unique opportunity to build a professional relationship and make an impact in improving the quality of life of others.
Formal education may not be required, depending on the particular setting. For some positions, only on-the-job training will be needed, while a certified nurse assistant certificate may be required in other cases (this course generally takes between three weeks and one semester). A CPR certification is also preferred for most positions.
Experience as a care worker is highly valuable in the pursuit of obtaining a registered nursing degree.
Care Worker Tasks
Check patients' pulse, temperature and respiration.
Provide patients with help moving in and out of beds, baths, wheelchairs or automobiles, and with dressing and grooming.
Maintain records of patient care, progress, or problems to report and discuss observations with supervisor or case manager.
Change bed linens, wash and iron patients' laundry, and clean patients' quarters.
Entertain, converse with, or read aloud to patients to keep them mentally healthy and alert.