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Your personal development as a care worker

Mark Topps defines what personal development means in social care and how you can create a career plan to help achieve your long-term professional goals.

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Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
10/6/2022
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

What is personal development?

Personal development is the process of self-improvement, which focuses on building up your own awareness, knowledge and skills.

Social care is amazing as there are so many career pathways including ones away from the frontline like marketing, data analysis, recruitment and many more – there’s truly is a job for everyone within social care.

Barriers to development in social care

After speaking to a number of training providers recently, it’s clear there’s a significant drop in the number of carers and support workers that want to undertake further training. The main reasons for this are burnout from COVID, needing a break or simply just wanting to focus on personal lives.

So, what can you do?

Create a development plan

If you’re reading this as a care worker, I want you to think about your long-term goal. What is it that you want to achieve within your career? Do you want to progress or are you happy in the role you’re currently in?

When you think about your own personal development and the goals you have for you future, think about what you want to achieve, both personally and work-wise. Studies have shown that reaching your goals increases motivation, improves health and has also shown to increase productivity. It’s important therefore for you to have goals, however big or small, as it can help to guide you, focus you and sustain momentum in your life.

Key tips to consider when looking at your personal development:

  • Think about the next three years, and then break down the overarching goal into smaller goals
  • Think about personal and work goals
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and learn new skills
  • Don’t compare yourself to others or follow the crowd – just be yourself
  • Identify your strengths and your weaknesses
  • Think and don’t rush into things
  • Set time to achieve your goals and set timeframes for achieving
  • Track your progression
  • Celebrate achievement
  • Ask for support or ideas
  • Network and ask other managers
  • Be selfish and think about you, your future and your career.

Do a course

I’m often asked about my career journey and I when I look back, I feel that I’ve achieved a lot in a short space of time, but I often wish I’d given my younger self more career opportunities. If I could go back in time and do it all again, I’d get a social work degree or nursing degree alongside working in social care, to give me something to fall back on.

This is something I recommend to younger care workers coming into the sector without families and bills (things get expensive once you start having kids!) Grasp all the opportunities you’re given and don’t forget, you can always work part-time whilst studying.

When it comes to further training and development, it’s important to think outside of the box. Could you do a short course that may benefit you further down the line in your career, for like something in marketing, social media, teaching etc.? This will equip you with more knowledge and skills and allow you to diversify in your career journey.

Learn a new skill

For many of us, we’ve reached a point where we don’t want to study any more – and there’s nothing wrong with that! I truly believe we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves or our colleagues if this is the choice that’s made, but instead we should focus on personal goals such as taking up a long-lost hobby, learning to drive, learning a new skill or focusing on giving ourselves a work-life balance. Studies have shown that by undertaking something personal, improves work-life balance as you’ll be setting time aside for you to achieve your personal goals.

I know first-hand the challenges of setting time aside. You have your role, overtime, personal life etc. but it’s crucial to set time to look at your goals and reflect on your progress towards these.

Take the next steps

Remember, personal development doesn’t have to be about doing a qualification or something work related, it could be a personal goal that helps you achieve outside of the workplace or gives you that sense of a purpose and belonging. Create your vision and invest in yourself.

Some parting bits of advice:

  • Be realistic in your abilities and don’t set yourself up to fail
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve something
  • Learn from mistakes, but don’t hold onto them
  • Break the goal into smaller steps
  • Set time to work on your development and goals
  • Be selfish and think about you, your future and your career.

Most importantly, take a step back from the rush of the day job, evaluate your skills, look at what you do well and identify areas for improvement. This reflection will allow you to truly grow as a person.

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