The job description of care assistants must be made clearer, and a training has to be established. In the future, there will be an even greater need for care assistants. Now, at the latest, we must make the occupation’s duties and identity clearer and give care assistant work the appreciation it deserves.
The exclamation mark in the heading is very appropriate. Depending a little on which piece of research one looks at, we’ll be needing up to 200,000 social welfare and health care sector employees by 2023 in order to satisfy the ever-increasing need for nursing. The population is ageing and there aren’t as many children being born as before, which is why we’re facing large challenges.
We need more nurses for the social welfare and health care sector. We also need more care personnel, without even mentioning all the other occupational groups such as instruments attendants and catering employees.
However, in this blog post I want to concentrate on care assistants. For a year ago, a little over 3,200 of them worked in elderly care. This is still a relatively small number in relation to how many are needed. Both the previous and current Government thought it’s important to increase the number of care assistants, which is reflected in their Government Programmes. Finland has around fifty educational institutions that offer care assistant training. This means that there’s plenty to choose from.
So what can we do to raise interest for the occupation?
First of all, the job description should be made even more clear. Care assistants shouldn’t carry out work duties that practical nurses or registered nurses normally do. This is important because various sources have indicated that workplaces may require care assistants to do work that they normally don’t do and that they’re not trained for.
Refusing these duties may however sometimes be difficult, for instance because the employer is exerting pressure. For this reason, it’s important to contact your workplace shop steward. The role of care assistants specifically involves providing care, which is revealed by the occupational title. And listen people, there really isn’t enough care in this world. Everyone needs it. If the service chain is in order, work runs smoothly and each professional has their own place in the work community. That’s the best way of helping those in need of help.
Secondly, there should be proper training on offer. The goal should be that each care assistant has gone through a training. This would make the division of labour clearer in workplaces in addition to making care assistants more aware of the responsibilities and obligations of their occupation. This would also for its part help improve the occupational identity and pride of care assistants.
Although most care assistants at least at the moment work within elderly care services, it’s important that students are offered the chance to select, say, a training that prepares them to care for the disabled. Furthermore, the marketing of care assistant training should be further developed to reach more potential employees such as career changers and immigrants.
And thirdly, all of us want to do work that’s appreciated. Appreciation for work consists of several different factors, and each employee has the right to regard their work as important and valuable. Everyone’s work is important, and we should hold on to each employee in the care and nursing sector. Everyone who works in the sector has that responsibility. Let’s show our co-workers (care assistants and other professionals) that they are meaningful. Let’s give positive feedback, learn about our co-worker’s work and respect their input. That’s not so difficult, is it?
JHL member Satu Mikola from Salo works as a care assistant. She enjoys working in elderly care. In the video she talks about daily life at work and the significance of her work:
The role of care assistants will be crucial when it comes to the labour shortage in the social welfare and health care sector. We all need care and nursing at some point in life. That’s why it’s important that a motivated and healthy personnel will continue to be in charge of these services in the future. To make this possible, professionals representing several different sectors are needed. Out of these professionals, care assistants are one of the most important groups.
JHL stands up for care assistants and those who are studying to become care assistants – at work and during studies! We also offer our members an occupational network, interesting courses, and many value-for-money benefits. Learn more about JHL membership: jhl.fi/join