7 Essential Skills Required for Care Workers

To care for and assist people in need is a noble, rewarding and fulfilling career, however, it comes with its challenges. Recent reports show that over the last decade, the need for care workers has increased year on year since 2012, but so have the unfulfilled vacancies. 

More and more care professionals leave their jobs due to the high stress levels involved, with 66% of care home providers reporting that more and more staff are leaving the sector. Yet, industry forecasts estimate that by 2026, there will be a need for 420,000 more care workers will be needed to fulfil the needs of the UK. 

If you’re passionate about helping others and you’re considering a career in care, then the vacancies should be there. However, if you’re wondering whether you have what it takes to do the job and feel satisfied in your role, explore our list of the most important skills required for a care worker

What Skills Does a Care Worker Need? 

To answer this question, we have analysed the recommendations listed by the National Careers Service, as well as the leading recruiters in the industry to compile this list of the top 7 skills required for a care worker. 

  1. Compassion and Desire to Help 

The passion for helping people is at the foundation of care work. The job of a care worker involves assisting the elderly and vulnerable in doing daily tasks, such as going to the toilet, taking a shower and eating. You may also need to accompany them to doctor’s appointments and push their wheelchair. Some of the people you take care of may experience feelings of shame or embarrassment when they find themselves in the position of being dependent on a carer to complete these tasks. 

To make them comfortable in your presence, it’s important that you are a genuinely compassionate person and you do everything out of the innate desire to help. And that’s just as important for you as it is for them. After all, if this is “just a job”, you will find it emotionally draining to do the job, whereas if this is your true calling, you will feel a sense of satisfaction from seeing the positive impact you have on people’s lives, as a good care worker can significantly improve the quality of life for patients in many ways.  

  1. Empathy

Empathy – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and truly understand what they feel is not a skill that can be learned. Being sensitive to other’s emotions is a must in care work. 

Those you care for may often feel a mix of negative emotions – loneliness, shame, sadness, helplessness, lack of positive outlook for the future, and those can sometimes make them act out in a rude or aggressive way. To show understanding and react with kindness to any behaviour, you must comprehend why they may be behaving in the way that they are. 

Having an empathetic nature paired with persistence will be your key to building positive relationships with your clients and putting a smile on their faces. 

  1. Communication and Interpersonal skills

As a care worker, you will need excellent verbal communication skills. You will often have to provide company for the people in your care – this could be anything from having a chat about the weather and the news to discussing their thoughts and feelings. To succeed in the job, you will need to possess the interpersonal skills to talk to just about anyone about anything in a friendly and compassionate manner while remaining professional and respectful. 

In addition to being a companion for your patients, you will also find yourself talking to other staff members. Being able to effectively communicate with your colleagues will allow you to see when they are struggling and need help. 

You will also regularly report information about the people in your care to their relatives. Those conversations can also be emotional and you have to communicate in a professional and informative manner without losing your sensitivity to the feelings of the person you speak with. 

  1. Patience and Understanding

Not every shift of a care worker is filled with positive experiences. Often people who are vulnerable may struggle to express their feelings or verbalise their needs. They can also get frustrated and act out in anger. In challenging situations like these, it is your job to remain calm and show patience. This is why taking the time to understand where the people in your care are coming from and being patient with them when they are in a bad mood is certainly a skill requirement for any care worker.  

The ability to remain calm in stressful situations will also come in handy in case of medical emergencies involving your patients, as well as if you are faced with a demanding or impatient family member. 

  1. Resilience 

As we’ve seen so far, the job of a care worker isn’t easy. It takes a lot of resilience to remain optimistic, patient and effective when your patients are having a hard time. Some shifts may feel long and exhausting, both mentally and physically, so you have to have the strength to put those behind you and come back to work with a positive attitude the next day. 

You may find yourself being subject to criticism both from the people in your care and their family members who, in their need to be reassured that their loved ones are in good hands, may sometimes appear overly demanding and question your work. And of course, as with any job, you may receive constructive criticism from your manager. 

However, if you have the strength of character to endure any feedback, you will find that your job as a care worker will help you grow as a person and see your emotional maturity flourish over time.  

  1. Adaptability 

Care work is a fast-paced environment where multiple factors can change at any time. When you work with people who are in a vulnerable position, you can expect to deal with medical emergencies and other unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes the moods and the specific needs of people in your care will change quickly too. This is why one of the key skills required for a care worker is adaptability.

Thinking on your feet will also help you manage unexpected situations related to your co-workers. Anyone can have a bad day and if you see that one of your colleagues is struggling, you may find it useful to show some flexibility and offer to swap some shifts to allow them to recover. 

  1. Organisational Skills and Attention to Detail  

From knowing your patients’ daily routines and medical needs to remembering details about their specific personal preferences and interests, there is a lot of information that you need to keep track of in order to do your job effectively. Here’s where having great organisational skills comes in handy.

You will also have to be thorough in your work and your notes and pay attention to detail, whether it’s facts about a patient or spotting non-verbal queues about their mood and behaviour. Sometimes slight behavioural changes can signal a bigger underlying issue and reading those early signs in time can be vital. 

Building the Skills Required for a Care Worker

There are many more skills required to be a good care worker. For example, having a positive attitude to life can help the person who’s been cared for feel more positive about their own situation. You will also benefit from having technical skills, such as administering medication, dressing wounds, and handling patient data and confidential information. 

However, if you go back to the number on the list – desire to help, and you find that you have the passion to do the job, it is probably worth considering a career in care. Here, at Caredemy, we can help you build the skills and competencies required to get a position in the sector. Check out our courses below to see how we can help.

Want to gain the right skills for a career in care?

Choosing a career in the care sector is not only rewarding, but it can be a selfless career that requires a lot of regular training. Whether you’re new to the care sector or would like to take your career to the next level, we can offer you an abundance of courses to choose from.

Our courses are written by care professionals and give you the ability to take the next step in your career.

At Caredemy we have a whole host of courses that are ideal for those looking to work in the care sector. Included in our new to care sector are courses such as:

Advance Care Planning & Record Keeping Course

Care Certificate Course – 15 Standards

Care Certificate Standard 1 – Understand Your Role Course

Chaperones Course

Conflict Resolution (3 Course Bundle)

Conflict Resolution in Primary Care Course

Duty Of Care Course

Effective Communication Course

Basic Life Support (Resuscitation) Course

Infection Prevention and Control for Clinical Workers (3 Course Bundle)

Learning Disabilities (2 Course Bundle)

Medicines Optimisation: Safe & Effective Use of Medication (2 Courses Bundle)

To see our complete list of courses that are suitable for those beginning a career in care, see our website today.


What are the top 3 essential qualities of a good care worker? 

There are many personality traits that define a good care worker but the three most important must be:

  • Desire to help – being a care worker is a true calling; without passion for the job delivering genuine care is impossible
  • Empathy – being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes helps the care worker act with patience and understanding
  • Patience  – staying calm when patients are in a bad mood is important to truly understanding them and making a connection 

What are the 5 most important duties of a care worker?

The role of a care worker includes a number of responsibilities, including:

  • Helping care home residents with their daily tasks 
  • Spending time with care home residents and talking to them
  • Communicating with the care home residents’ family members
  • Ensuring that residents have everything they need 
  • Following a care plan, including administering medication

What skills should be listed on a care worker’s CV?

If you’re preparing to apply for a care worker role, some of the essential skills you should put on your CV include: 

  • Communication skills
  • Ability to protect confidentiality
  • Experience in providing domestic assistance (washing up, cleaning, shopping, cooking)
  • Qualified to administer medication and dress wounds
  • High attention to detail when handling patient data