Staff shortages are set to cause a crisis. That’s why organisations are reaching out to young people to show how rewarding a career in care can be (writes Guardian Careers)
Wearing ear defenders that muffle sound, goggles that blur eyesight and thick suede gloves to restrict hand movement, students taking part in a workshop run by the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital experience what life is like for adults who need the support of care workers. Classmates then help each other put on hospital gowns, drink from a beaker and unwrap and eat a boiled sweet.
“They had to put themselves in the place of someone else and work out how they could help that person. Then we spoke to the children about how to do that in a dignified way,” says social care assessor Natalie Roberts, who ran the class for year 9 pupils at Sidmouth college.
The workshop demonstrates the importance of finding innovative and engaging ways to teach young people about jobs in social care.
“We started our presentation with a general talk about care services,” says Roberts. “After 10 minutes you could see their eyes glaze over and it was so great to be able to say, ‘OK everybody, stand up [to do the exercise]’. It just changed the whole atmosphere. It increased their enthusiasm and interest and they started to look at all the written information we’d given them.”
Roberts is one of 93 Proud to Care ambassadors who go around schools and colleges to raise awareness about social care work as an opportunity for young people. The scheme was originally set up by Devon county council three years ago and was subsequently expanded to the whole south-west region in response to the national crisis of recruitment and retention of social care workers.
So why aren’t young people going into social care work? One of the reasons is a lack of awareness about careers in the sector.