From childcare to social care - The opportunities - Ruth McGuire


In the middle of all the tragedies associated with the Covid crises, one of the most comforting aspects to emerge is the unrelenting dedication, commitment and hard work of health and social care workers. Their value to the people they care for and their families and to society as a whole, is immeasurable.  But more workers are needed to meet demand. This is why the Government campaign ‘Care for others. Make a difference’ has been launched to try and increase the social care workforce. 

If you work in childcare, caring is already at the core of what you do. However, you might have been inspired by what you’ve recently seen and heard about adult social care workers and might want to make the switch from caring for children to caring for adults. And now is as good a time as any to make that switch. As a childcare worker, you will have transferable skills that you could apply to adult care. However, to make an informed choice, think about the following:

Adult social care worker roles

There are two key roles within social care – working with people in their own homes on a one-to-one basis or working in residential or day centre care homes.  As a home care worker, your role would be to provide care and support to elderly or vulnerable people who have disabilities in their own homes. Your tasks could include helping them with their mobility, helping with meals or helping individuals with personal care such as showering.  If you are based in a residential care home, your activities will involve caring, but you may also be involved in organising activities for residents such as external trips or recreational activities. To understand the range of activities you could be involved in social care  and to listen to workers talk about their respective roles as ‘care givers’, ‘support workers’, ‘home care workers’ and ‘managers’ visit

According to the Department of Health and Social caresocial care work suits the type of person who ‘treats others with respect, listens to their needs, understands their emotions, and is warm, kind and honest.’ You will also need skills such as ‘a good standard of English, numeracy and digital skills.’ From your work in childcare, you probably already have most of these skills and behaviours or may have acquired and used them in a volunteering role.

Values based recruitment

Employers in the health and social care sector tend to use ‘values-based recruitment’ to find employees. This approach to recruitment focuses on the values a person can bring to a job rather than just qualifications. Qualifications are important but having the right values to work in a caring or health role is seen as a priority. This is because although qualifications may indicate your knowledge and skills, employers need more. Health and social care employers want to recruit people who have the behaviours and personal values that match their own organisational values. In social care this includes values such as ‘dignity and respect’ for others and ‘working together.’ When applying for jobs in the sector, think of how you may be able to demonstrate your values – this could be from your work in childcare or in other ‘caring’ roles – paid or voluntary.


For any new role or job that you want to move into, it is always a good thing to ‘look before you leap.’ Think clearly about why you want a role in the health and social care sector. It may well be something that you have always thought about doing or you could have been inspired by what you have seen and heard during the Covid crises.  To help you make up your mind, try the ‘Could you care quiz’ at The quiz takes you through typical work scenarios within the social care sector and asks you to give a response to various questions. At the end of the quiz, you receive a ‘personal profile’ with a score indicating your strengths or areas for improvement in relation to areas such as such upholding the rights of individuals, understanding and caring about others and empowering others.  Use the profile to make an informed decision about social care work.  You can also go to for more information about the range of job roles in health and social care sector.

Job hunting and interview preparation

To find jobs in the health and social care sector you can search on generic job sites such as or or  go to more specialist sites like or which allows you to search by postcode. You may be invited to submit a CV or an online application form for a role. In either case, read the requirements for the role carefully and make sure your application or CV is tailored to match those requirements. If you are going to submit an online application, draft your responses in advance.

If you are lucky enough to be invited for an interview, you may find that because of social distancing requirements, the interview will be conducted as a ‘virtual’ interview rather than a face- to-face one. Prepare for the interview as you would a face-to-face interview but check the following:

  • Equipment – use a tablet or PC for the interview if you can as they work much better than mobile phones for virtual interviews
  • Choose an appropriate setting for the interview – preferably a room that allows you to sit at a table rather than slouch on a settee! 
  • Dress as you would for a real-life interview and look as professional as you can
  • Check and preview the background of whichever room/setting you decide to use for your interview – use a clear, tidy background avoiding personal or ‘controversial’ photographs or pictures or anything that might distract interviewers
  • Before the interview, check all your camera and audio settings on your tablet or PC, particularly for sound and light quality. Make sure that you can be seen and heard during the interview and test the ID and password details you have been given 
  • Make sure you have a telephone contact for the interviewers so that you can contact them if any technological issues arise but keep your mobile on silent during the interview or preferably switched off

 Further research and help

For more information about working in the social and health care sector  visit and for general careers advice, job search and guidance visit the National Careers Service at



Ruth McGuire is an Education Inspector with nearly 15 years of inspection experience. She has taught in both further and higher education. She is also a well-established education and training consultant, writer and freelance journalist. She is a Governor of an outstanding sixth form college and also holds board roles within the NHS.

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