Health and social care qualifications (HSC) enable you to work with vulnerable people and those who require care. This includes people who are disabled, elderly, or who require frequent social care because of a long-term or debilitating health condition.
Those working within the social care sector give care within the patient’s home, care home or other facilities like hospitals. Social care workers can also work with vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure that they are protected from housing or living situations that are detrimental or harmful, and to determine that young people are living in a healthy and caring environment.
There are plenty of career options in health and social care, and taking HSC qualifications is a great way to kickstart your new job as a nurse, care worker, key worker, support worker or personal assistant. This guide explores health and social care level 3 jobs, and the various career pathways in health and social care that are open to you if you study for accredited HSC qualifications at Oxford Learning College.
What is health and social care?
Health and social care covers all healthcare and specialist support services such as dentistry, hospital care, physiotherapy, foster care, nursing home care, mental health services, rehabilitation services and nurseries.
The services are aimed at helping people with their healthcare needs and offering services that enable them to maintain independence (in the case of vulnerable, ill or disabled patients). According to the Prince’s Trust, there are more than 350 different jobs within health and social care, and there are more than 100,000 vacancies that need to be filled at any one time.
Career pathways in health and social care can vary greatly, with lots of flexibility that enables you to move between sectors, caring for people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Let’s look at these two areas in more detail.
A job in the healthcare sector involves providing medical care to people, including diagnosis and treatment plans. For instance, jobs within hospital care may include medical specialities, prolonged nursing care and rehabilitation, psychiatric care and acute care.
Then there’s primary care, which refers to the types of care you’d receive in a healthcare practice, like physiotherapy, dentistry, pharmacy and opticians.
Public health is the last division, which covers areas that are not typically associated with traditional healthcare services, but still play an important role, such as food hygiene, sewerage, and housing services.
Social care sector
A role in the social care sector involves helping others with activities such as feeding, personal hygiene, social interaction, ensuring the taking of medications, and helping those who are vulnerable or immobile to maintain their independence.
Workers in the social care sector may work with individuals at home, or in small groups in public spaces like community centres. Their job will typically involve offering assistance that contributes to the health and well-being of the person they are helping.
Health and social care qualifications
There are many qualifications in the health and care sector – from entry-level to more advanced and accredited diplomas that will help you to advance in your chosen career path. Awards and certificates tend to be shorter in length and enable continued professional development through the instant passing of qualifications.
Diplomas are longer qualifications that let you choose areas of specialisation, so you can develop knowledge and skills in your chosen area of interest. HSC courses offered by Oxford Learning College include:
- BTEC HNC/HND in Healthcare Practice for England
- Accredited Level 3 Health + Social Care Diploma
- Accredited Level 3 Mental Health + Social Care Diploma
- Quality Licence Scheme Level 3 Health + Social Care Diploma
- Quality Licence Scheme Level 3 Nutritional Therapy Diploma
Jobs within health and social care
Any role in health and social care is an important one. The job requires an understanding and empathic nature, patience and great interpersonal skills. You’ll need to be able to interact with people from all walks of life, with different needs, as you’ll be giving them emotional, social and physical support.
Depending on the career options that you take in health and social care, you may have a role that involves supporting vulnerable and elderly people in your community (at day centres or care homes), or you may work at a hospital providing some form of health or nursing care, or you might work with children, babies and infants, or people who are facing challenges with their mental health and well-being.
Here are a few common roles in health and social care that you could look to apply for upon completion of a health and social care diploma with us at Oxford Learning College.
A care worker helps people carry out everyday activities like getting dressed, washing and preparing food, so that they can live a more independent life and remain in their own home if they need continual care. Care workers can also help with ensuring patients take their medications correctly, organising shopping and healthcare appointments, and offering companionship.
Care workers work with a range of people, including adults who are elderly, those with physical or non-visible disabilities, people with long-term health conditions, mental health issues, or those who have abused drugs or alcohol.
Being a care worker can be physically and emotionally challenging, and you’ll need to be a good listener with strong communication skills and an ability to manage your own time, while giving those in your care the empathy, time and compassion they need.
A counsellor helps people to speak openly about difficult events and troubles they are having in their lives. For instance, if a person is experiencing depression as a result of the loss of a loved one, or they need to improve their mental health, they may seek help from a counsellor.
Counsellors help people work through their own issues by encouraging them to make changes to their thought processes and habits. To be a counsellor, you need to have plenty of patience, understanding and empathy, and the ability to put people at ease so that they can speak openly to you about difficult life matters. The specific qualifications needed to be a counsellor can vary, but there are plenty of ways to enter this career.
An occupational therapist helps those with long-term health conditions and other health problems or disabilities that may prevent a person from carrying out tasks or performing errands. Problem-solving skills are important in this role, and you’ll also need to be good at taking notes and keeping detailed records of each visit you make to a patient.
Rehabilitation workers help people who have had an illness or accident, giving them the care they need to get back to their everyday routines (usually after spending a long time in hospital).
Rehabilitation workers also support people with learning disabilities, hearing or sight loss, mental health issues, or people who are recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol. For this role, you’ll need a compassionate nature and the ability to work with people from all walks of life.
Do you need a degree for health and social care?
You don’t necessarily need a degree to have a successful and enjoyable career in health and social care. A degree is also a very expensive qualification and isn’t always financially viable for everyone.
The courses offered at Oxford Learning College are accredited by professional bodies such as CIE Global, making them sought after and recognisable qualifications within the sector. You can take our BTEC or diploma qualifications to give you a head-start within your chosen profession. The health and social care industry is vast, with many roles offered.
So if you take a qualification in a certain area, this doesn’t mean that you have to restrict yourself to just that part of the industry. Whether you want to be involved in the care of others, contribute to medical research, or work in crucial administrative roles, a diploma in an area of health and social care can be the big break that you need.
Those who have taken our qualifications could consider the following jobs in health and social care:
- Ambulance/paramedic services
- Nutritional therapy
- Administration and management
- Health clinic roles
- Care home/hospice worker
Career pathways with health and social care
There are various career pathways in health and social care, and some roles you can apply for do not require you to have any previous experience or qualifications, while others may require you to complete a diploma, an apprenticeship or higher education, depending on the level of the role you are applying for.
Whether you are already qualified and looking for your next career move, or want to start a new career in the health and social care sector, you can find a pathway to a job that is right for you.
The NHS is the main employer of health and social care workers in the UK, so it is worth checking their website in your local region to see available jobs. Completing either A-Levels, a BTEC, or a Level 3 Diploma are popular and common routes into many health and social care roles.
When you choose your course, it is important to consider how specialist you’d like to be, and whether you want a qualification that gives you the flexibility to move to different jobs in the sector.
Having the right values, attitudes and behaviours are just as important as getting the right qualifications, as you will be working with people from all walks of life who need support and care. These values include giving people dignity and respect, good communication, teamwork, being able to critique your own behaviours, a willingness to learn, and being committed to giving others good quality care.