Career Myths in Health and Social Care – Tracy Walters, Careerwave

Originally published on CACHE Alumni – Get your first year of membership for free and enjoy new, relevant content every week.

You would be right in thinking there is a grey area between Health and Social Career pathways and lots of myths within the industry to dispel.

It’s a fact that people are living longer due to the huge advances in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. All of this affects the way that Health and Social Care is delivered, and the workforce required to provide it. There are lots of misunderstandings you might have heard about working in Health and Social Care, such as, low pay, no progression. However, with a wide range of jobs available and lots of opportunities to progress, it’s a vocational area that’s most rewarding and can be a life-long career. You can be working for one of many different organisations including the NHS, local authorities, private healthcare providers, social enterprises.

Although the media tend to only report bad news about working in Health and Social Care, these reports represent only a small percentage of the industry.  In fact, the industry itself provides the best care for those who need it the most and there many patients who would not have the support and care they so desperately need without Health and Social Care Workers, yet people are still often deterred from working within this industry.

The social care and health sectors are increasingly working together to support people who need care. As the NHS is under more pressure, social care is becoming more important as a way of supporting people, so they don’t need to go into hospital.

Let’s see if we can clear some common misconceptions:

Myth #1: Social care is a job with no opportunities for career progression

The fact is, there are lots of opportunities to progress in a career in care, especially now the sector is integrating more with the health sector.

Mark Walford, who founded Trusted Care in 2012 says that his mother runs a care agency and all staff are grassroots employees. “It’s really important to her that that’s the case because it gives them a much deeper insight into the sector.” Progression is available and believed to enhance and further develop our transferable skills and experience. If you’re dedicated and have a good attitude, there are plenty of opportunities for promotion.

You can learn and gain qualifications as you’re working, meaning you can quickly progress into roles with more responsibility and work towards a specialism of your interest, such as Occupational Health or Social Worker. What’s more, social care is an ever-growing sector and is tremendously rewarding with new roles and progression routes appearing. The directors of NR Care, Nathan and Rebekah were once care workers themselves and know that care work offers fantastic opportunities for career progression. “We invest in training our staff and provide every new care worker with a full six-day induction programme and regular paid training”.

Myth #2: Social care is badly paid

It isn’t always as badly paid as you think! All employers must pay the minimum wage, but many social care employers pay more, to show they value their staff. Unlike some other sectors there are lots of opportunities to progress in your career, which means moving into roles that pay more.

When you get your first role in social care, the salary of an entry level care assistant can be up to £15,000 which is often more than other sectors. It doesn’t stop there, if you progress to becoming a registered manager, you could earn over £5,000 more per year than the average salary of a retail store manager.

Mayur Mistry (2017), from The Learning Station, Manchester listed below outlines the expected salary for each qualification level achieved:

Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care: expected to work in an entry level position and earn up to £15,000 per annum.

Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care: expected to work as team leader or senior position and earn in the region of up to £22,000 per annum.

Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care: qualifies you to become a manager or to be able to manage a care facility where you can earn on average of £33,000 to £50,000 per annum.

Some organisations provide staff with a competitive salary of up to £10 an hour, as well as paid training, mileage and travel time. Depending on how willing you are to work hard and complete the necessary qualifications, you’ll find that working in the Health and Social Care sector has both job satisfaction and financial reward.  In the UK, Health and Social Care workers can complete qualifications to enable them to work in a higher position and attain a better salary.

Myth #3 – Social care is only about personal care and working with old people

Social care is all about supporting people to live independently in a way that they choose, and personal care is just one of the ways you could do this. However, if that puts you off, there are lots of other social care roles that don’t involve personal care like counsellor, rehabilitation worker and activity coordinator.

People also need support going to work, taking part in social activities, finding housing or recovering after an accident. It doesn’t always mean working with older people. As much as this can be a most rewarding role, if it doesn’t appeal to you there are lots of other options.

You could support a person with a physical disability, someone with a mental health condition, a young woman with a learning disability, an adult with autism or a young man who’s had a brain injury. So, depending on which job you choose, you could be working with someone your age or younger!

Myth #4: Social care is all about working in a care home

Social care is all about providing care and support for people in their community or at home, to help them have the best quality of life. Healthcare is all about treating people when they are ill to support them to get better and stay well.  Jobs in residential care homes are probably the most well-known jobs and there are lots available. You could find a role working in someone’s own home (domiciliary or homecare) or in the community (in a day centre, for example). There are also jobs in health centres, GP practices, local council offices and in hospitals.  In social care there are over 19,000 organisations which provide social care; in health, most of healthcare jobs are employed by the National Health Service (NHS). Many health jobs are based in hospitals or GP surgeries.

 Myth #5 – Work within the Health and Social Care industry is unfulfilling

Working in Health and Social Care can be extremely challenging. Those who work in this sector will have encountered patients that challenged them and may have had confrontations with patient’s family members. And all these workers are trying to do, is provide the best possible care.

It would be easy to conclude that there is little job satisfaction since it can feel like you’re not being appreciated for what you do. Fortunately, the industry has taken this into consideration.

Now, it is in the sector’s care policy to ensure staff are not mistreated or disrespected.  Carers also have a right to report any patient who is showing inappropriate behaviour towards them. So, the good news is that measures are in place to ensure your time and effort is being fully appreciated.

Now, for job satisfaction – this really boils down to what naturally motivates you. If you get motivated by money, a career in Health and Social Care is probably not for you. Those who have had successful careers in this industry are motivated by helping people. There is intense satisfaction in helping someone successfully overcome their challenges.  According to the Skill Force survey, 88% of social care workers felt their work really made a difference and agreed that they liked the feeling of satisfaction they had helped a person and were totally happy in their jobs.

Despite the negative perception of care work, 96% of workers in adult Health and Social Care services feel that their work is making a difference. Many people think that care work is simply about washing, feeding and dressing people who can’t themselves, but these practical tasks are only a small part of the work that is done. A care worker explains “It’s so much more than that!  Sometimes you can be the only person that goes into someone’s house all day, four times a day, and to see them with a smile on their face because you’ve done that is so rewarding.”

Myth #6 – You Feel Emotionally Drained

Always putting other people’s needs before your own can leave you emotionally drained. And this is bound to happen working in Health and Social Care. But luckily, the sector has something in place to prevent this from happening.  The industry does value their staff, and they ensure their staff is well looked after.

Many organisations in Health and Social Care have meetings at the end of the shift to reflect on what has happened during the day.  These meetings are there to share and release any emotionally baggage.  And as result, workers will feel much happier.  If health workers are not fully energised and happy they cannot help and support others 100% so they need that “down” time and it is more valued than ever.

The training Health and Social Care workers receive helps them to build relations with their patients through effective communication. Communicating with patients who have a learning disability or are an elderly person requires you to master a skill. Once these skills are mastered, their roles will be much easier due to reducing the chances of any miscommunication.  And as part of Health and Social Care worker’s training, they need to ensure they create safe and secure environment that benefits both staff and patients. Without this, staff would be left at a disadvantage.

 Myth #7- Family Members of Patients Don’t Appreciate What You Do

Sure, you will get family members who will question everything that you do when you look after their loved ones. But providing you demonstrate a positive attitude and show commitment to looking after your patients, then their family members will begin to appreciate what you do.

Myth #8 – Careers in health – it’s just doctors, nurses and paramedics, isn’t it? – Nope!

Community based roles

Our first port when we have a health concern is usually our local doctors’ surgery. Many of our GPs are reaching retirement and we need 50% of all students completing their medical degree and foundation training to enter general practice.

Pharmacists are expanding their range of work and offering more advice on a range of conditions. Increasingly, you’ll find physician associates, working under direct supervision of a doctor, in a GP surgery or hospital. They’re trained to take medical histories, perform examinations, diagnose illness, analyse test results and develop management plans.

Nurses work in a range of community settings (including schools, prisons and private homes) as well as hospitals. The new support role of nursing associate will offer an additional career pathway to progress to registered nurse.

Specialist paramedics are paramedics with additional training in assessing patients, administering tests, interpreting results and prescribing medication. When attending an emergency, they can make clinical decisions about whether a patient can return home or needs to get to an emergency department.

We are generally familiar with clinical roles like radiographers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and social workers. But there are many others – like healthcare scientists podiatrists and orthoptists.

Psychological wellbeing practitioners are on the rise too, to help deliver the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative. Then, of course, there is a multitude of non-clinical roles including, librarians, chefs, accountants, porters, cleaners and estates staff. Public health is a key area too – helping people to stay healthy and protecting them from threats to their health. Roles here includes health trainers, environmental health professionals and public health consultants.

There are also new job roles that involve providing both social and health care. These are called new and emerging social care and health roles.  This is an exciting time to consider a career in care as there are lots of new roles that involve both social and health care such as care navigator, social prescriber, enhanced care worker.

There are about 1.55 million jobs in adult social care in England now. Due to growing demand, we estimate we’ll need enough workers to fill an extra 275,000 jobs by 2025. If you want a career where the work is highly rewarding, where you can progress, have job security, and get an enormous sense of personal achievement from knowing you are helping other people, then adult social care could be for you. Don’t listen to the myths – Get the facts!


Tracy Walters is an experienced and qualified Careers Advisor, working with Careerwave to support schools, sixth forms and colleges to make sure that their learners get the best impartial advice to set them on the right path or the future. You can find out more about the services that Careerwave offer on their website, or by following them on Twitter at @careerwaveuk