The Five Most Important Skills for Social Workers
By David Lord, NonStop Care Team Leader
The five most important skills for care professionals to possess include flexibility and a keen eye for detail, according to NonStop Recruitment, whose specialisms include care.
It’s well documented that the care industry is facing a severe and widespread skills shortage but it is also an industry where soft skills are key, which means people can easily move into care careers should they have the following traits.
Flexibility – “The situation in any type of care can change rapidly and you need to be able to react accordingly. One minute you might be dealing with medication, or dressing a wound and the next you might be dealing with an emergency in a completely different field, or even a conflict between patients. Being able to think on your feet is hugely important, particularly at a time when professionals are being pushed to be ever more time efficient.”
Time management – “It’s because of this drive for efficiency that care workers need to be able to allocate their time effectively, in order to fit in the numerous tasks they’ll likely have to complete. We all know there are significant shortages across healthcare, and the issue is particularly acute at care and nursing home level. You’ll have to juggle responsibilities regardless of which specialisation you’re operating in and will likely have to deal with a number of patients, so being able to manage your time independently is critical.”
Empathy and resilience – “You may think these are two drastically different qualities, but in the care world they often come hand in hand. Professionals need to be understanding and approachable and will have to deal with loss, grieving families, distressed patients and numerous other hurdles they’ll face every day. Being empathetic allows you to better deal with these issues, but it’s because of them that you’ll also need to possess a significant amount of resilience as the role can be extremely demanding and emotionally draining. That said, it can also provide you with job satisfaction that is essentially unrivalled.”
Eye for detail – “Whatever your position or seniority level, after a certain point you’re likely to be dealing with medication in one form or another and even a minor slip up can have potentially disastrous consequences. In addition, you’ll also have to keep in mind various people’s different care plans, as well as their personal preferences and needs and also keep track of their mood, potentially. The people in your care might not tell you when they are feeling down, but it is important someone is able to pick up on the signs in order to help those people, which leads onto the next point.”
Communication – “Care facilities can be lonely places for patients of any age, particularly for those who are new to the environment and being able to communicate effectively with a range of different people with various beliefs, backgrounds and medical needs is absolutely critical if you want to be a successful practitioner. In many cases you might one of the patient’s few points of contact and being able to build trust and speak to residents on both a professional and personal level can make them feel considerably more comfortable. You’ll also have to interact and work together with your colleagues, many of whom may be new to the country as well as the expectations of patients’ families, who may be unaware of the extent of the treatment they may require. And of course, like any industry, if you have a knowledge of foreign languages, your earning potential is likely to be much higher.”