If you're thinking about a career in social care, you'll want to learn about the professional qualifications you can work towards to help you provide the best care possible for the people you're looking after.
In this article, we'll explore:
- What are health and social care qualifications?
- Who are they for?
- What qualification levels are available?
- What jobs can you get with health and social care?
- How to gain health and social care qualifications through an apprenticeship.
'Health & social care qualifications back up care workers' experience with the theory'
What is “health and social care”?
“Health and social care” (HSC) is a set of qualifications for people working in social care. Social care workers provide care and support for vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities and older people. Whereas healthcare takes place at hospital, social care is provided in the community – at the home of the person receiving care, or in a care home, for example.
Social care is also available for families, making sure children from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds are growing up in a safe and healthy environment.
HSC qualifications help social care workers understand the needs of the people they are looking after, and provide care in a safe and dignified way.
Who are they for?
HSC qualifications are for people providing care in a private home (someone’s house), a care home or a nursing home. This includes:
- Care workers
- Personal assistants
- Support workers
- Key workers
Sometimes family members who are the main carer for their husband, wife, mother, father or other relative take HSC qualifications.
What levels of qualifications are available?
Skills for Care, the organisation that drew up the qualifications, divides them into:
- Awards and certificates for people who are new to social care.
- Diplomas for experienced social care workers.
- A range of further qualifications for social care managers.
These qualifications give you the basic knowledge and skills needed to work in the care sector. They do not “confirm competence” – that means there’s no test to see if you demonstrate the right behaviour, knowledge and values in your work.
They range from level 1 qualifications taken before you start work, to level 2 (the same level as GCSEs) and level 3 (the same level as A-levels) courses which help you build on your basic skills while you carry out your role.
You can specialise in adult social care or care for children and young people depending on your job.
These qualifications can pave the way for the more in-depth diplomas.
Health and social care diplomas
The level 2 diploma is aimed at care assistants, key workers, healthcare assistants and support workers. You can specialise depending on whether you work with adults or children and young people.
- About the range of in which social care workers help people.
- How to make sure everyone you care for receives equal care, regardless of their race, religion, gender, social background etc, and that their care matches any
- What your responsibilities are to the people you’re looking after.
- How to protect the people you’re looking after from harm.
- How to adapt your care to the needs of each person.
- About health and safety considerations.
- How to look after people’s information.
As well building on the elements from level 2, you’ll learn about the importance of communication in social care, and find out about personal development.
At level 3, health and social jobs include more experienced care assistants, key workers, healthcare assistants and support workers.
There is also a level 5 diploma for more experienced care workers looking to go into management roles.
Once you’ve completed your diploma, you’ll have the chance to work towards a range of other qualifications tailored to particular areas of care work. These are available at levels 2 and 3 and are designed to help you do your job better by backing up the experience you gain at work. They cover areas such as:
- Learning disabilities
- End of life
Apprenticeships in health and social care
You can work towards your health and social care qualifications as part of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a paid job with training and qualifications.
HSC apprenticeships are available at three levels:
- Intermediate: Level 2, equivalent to getting 5 GCSEs at C+/4+.
- Advanced: Level 3, equivalent to 2 A-levels.
- Higher: Level 5, equivalent to foundation degree.
The higher apprenticeship is in care leadership and management. It is best suited to people with some experience in HSC work rather than for people leaving school or college and looking to begin a career in social care.
The intermediate and advanced apprenticeships are made up of six parts:
- Certificate in preparing to work in adult social care (level 2).
- Diploma in adult social care (level depends on whether you do an intermediate or an advanced apprenticeship).
- English and maths skills.
- Personal thinking and learning skills.
- Your rights and responsibilities as an employee.
- Added requirements your employer might have.
You can see apprenticeships here on the Success at School site, and also search on the government’s Find An Apprenticeship website.