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Social care comes in a diverse range of forms.

Home carers provide an invaluable service, helping people live independently and safely in their own homes.

Often, the transition of a client into a residential care home might be because:

  • The person is unwell and needs increased help.
  • Funding for a home carer is unavailable.
  • Family members are unable to continue providing for their needs.
  • They cannot cope with time alone and need around-the-clock support.

While there is a lot of advice out there for individuals and families looking at that transition – it can be just as fundamental for social care professionals.

Here we explain the contrasts and similarities between working in a home care position to a care home role, so you know what to expect.

Comparing Home Care to Care Homes as a Social Carer Career Option

While the setting is different, there are other contrasts between supporting people in their own homes and working in a permanent care home facility.

A home carer might work full time with one patient or may visit several people each day.

Typical tasks include:

  • Visiting people regularly, usually with a set schedule.
  • Providing personal care with washing and mobility.
  • Helping with cooking meals, cleaning and shopping.

Home support is typically suited to older adults who have a degree of self-sufficiency but need extra help with some tasks.

That might be due to mobility limitations or needing additional assistance with day-to-day chores.

Care homes can provide very similar services, but depending on whether it is a nursing home, they may also have registered nurses on staff to provide medical support.

One of the notable advantages of a residential care home is that every aspect of care is taken care of, comforting families anxious about potential falls, fire hazards, or lack of social interactions.

Assisted living is an option that lies somewhere between the two. This housing type offers private accommodation, but with on-site care professionals available to provide mid-level support.

What Will Change If I Move from one role to the other?

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both job options.

The most meaningful transition for many social care workers is moving from working autonomously and travelling daily to being in one fixed location working alongside a team.

Pros of choosing a home care placement include:

  • The opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients and meet lots of new people.
  • Working in a beneficial role helping people live on their terms and enjoy life in an independent home with your support to make that possible.
  • Discretion, with most home care staff managing a workload, allocating their time, making independent decisions, and then reporting any concerns or care needs back to their team.

In short, home care is similar to a care home role but working on an outreach basis.

The advantages of deciding to work in a care home facility are a bit different:

  • On the job training can be an excellent way to improve your skills. Care home assistants can often work towards degree-level qualifications.
  • Each day is different. There are usually various social activities and events, so you might find yourself attending a dance class, learning to paint, or joining in with games might.
  • Shifts can be flexible, with part-time work, night shifts, full-time placements and occasional shift cover.

The biggest positive about opting for the transition to a care home is that you will be part of a bigger team on-site at the same time.

Although they work in a devolved structure, home care professionals have managers and teams reporting back and receiving assignments from a central coordinator.

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Managing Care Career Transitions

If you’re concerned about how your workday will change, it’s a great idea to ask for an induction day or shadow a colleague to see how the typical shift works.

Home care may seem more flexible but can typically mean needing to help a person attend regular appointments or be structured around specific visit times on certain days of the week.

There is also a great deal more travelling. While home care staff will usually claim a travel expenses budget, care home jobs can be easier to manage if you need to travel significant distances between patients or live somewhere where public transport is unreliable.

A lot depends on how you like to work. Some social care workers love to be independent and the freedom of travelling between homes.

Others prefer the stability of working in one place and having colleagues to fall back on if they need advice or enjoy the social aspect of working with a team.

There is a downside to home care in that the role may involve a lot more paperwork than you’d imagine.

For example, every patient will need a care plan, assessments, and structured care, usually produced by the local community nursing service. Home care professionals still need to prepare records and account for the time to ensure their patients receive appropriate support.

In a care home, that same record-keeping is essential but is usually on a rolling basis, and you wouldn’t be solely responsible for keeping documentation up to date.

Transitions can be tricky, but they can also be an excellent opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a new experience.

When is the Right Time to Make a Social Work Career Change?

With so many transferable skills between social care jobs, it’s highly likely that if you’re an experienced home carer, you will slot in perfectly in any care home establishment.

The best time to make a change is when:

  • You feel jaded or tired and sense that a change of scenery would reinvigorate your passion for care.
  • It’s time to expand your skills, study for a new qualification, or branch out to increase the diversity of experience on your CV.
  • Circumstances change, and you need to have more reliable shift patterns and working hours.

If you’re interested in exploring care home or home care vacancies, do check out the Outt.com recruitment portal.

We offer flexible yet reliable employment for social care professionals with at least six months of career experience, with outstanding payroll benefits and hourly pay rates far above the national standards.