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Residential support worker

Residential support workers look after the physical and mental wellbeing of children or vulnerable adults in care.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £17,000 to £27,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need paid or voluntary experience in the social work and care sector. You could get this in a number of ways like:

  • working or volunteering at a youth club
  • personal experience of caring for a family member
  • working as a social work assistant
  • paid or voluntary work in a care home, nursery or relevant charity

You could take a social care course at college but this is not essential. You'll need English and maths skills.

You'll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

A driving licence could be useful.

To work in children’s homes, you must be at least 18 years old, and at least 4 years older than the oldest child in the home. For this reason, many of these jobs carry a minimum age restriction of 23 years.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Skills for Care has more information about becoming a residential support worker.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to get on with people of all ages and backgrounds and gain their trust
  • tact, patience and understanding
  • computer literacy and administration skills
  • mental strength, to cope with challenging situations and clients

3. What you'll do

Your clients could include children in care, or adults with physical or learning disabilities, mental health problems, addiction issues or other emotional or social needs.

Your day-to-day tasks might include:

  • checking residents’ needs and progress
  • providing physical care, which could include bathing, toileting, dressing and feeding
  • providing one-to-one counselling or group therapy sessions
  • teaching daily living skills like budgeting, shopping and claiming benefits
  • providing leisure and creative activities in a safe and supportive setting
  • helping residents to deal with problems and become independent
  • talking with residents' families and arranging family and home visits

You'll also be expected to keep accurate records and write reports. These may be used in case reviews and future care plans.

4. Salary

Starter: £17,000 to £21,000

Experienced: £22,000 to £24,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £27,000 (senior support worker)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work around 37 to 40 hours a week, often on a shift rota including weekends, evenings and sleep-in duties. You may also be on call at times.

You'll be based in children's homes, hostels, or adult residential care centres. You may also spend time in the community doing activities with residents.

The work can be challenging, as you may be supporting residents with unpredictable behaviour.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could take on more responsibility as a senior support worker or manager.

You could also train as a social worker.

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Last updated: 13 September 2017