Residential care refers to personal care services given to children and adults unable to live independently. Responsible for providing these services are residential care workers, professionals who focus on improving the physical and mental well-being of their clients. They can find jobs in children’s homes, adult care centers, orphanages and rehabilitation units. Residential care workers are also known as human service workers or personal and home care aides.
Doing the Work
Because residential care is an interactive job, human services workers must have excellent oral and written communication skills to share information with clients from different cultural backgrounds effectively and to write concise patient reports. These workers also need a blend of good teamwork and interpersonal skills to collaborate well and establish positive working relationships with other practitioners, such as child and family social workers. Residential care workers need to be empathetic. This helps to recognize and respond appropriately to the emotional changes of people in difficult situations.
The primary role of residential care workers is to provide physical care to patients who cannot perform day-to-day living tasks. For example, these workers can bathe, dress and feed an adult coping with the psychical challenges caused by a stroke. They also create a positive and safe living environment for the patient, and monitor and report his progress to nursing or medical staff. When a patient is unable to talk, residential care workers can interview his family members to obtain information on his social or medical background.
When not providing health care service to patients, residential care workers may advise clients on a variety of issues. For example, they may advise families on budgeting, shopping and applying for government assistance programs. When a client needs medical services, these workers may accompany them to a hospital or physician's office. Residential care workers in children’s homes accompany children on field trips, plan recreational activities and recommend children to community networks and support groups.
Getting In and Getting On
Although a high school diploma is sufficient to secure a residential care worker's job, earning an associate degree in human services or behavioral science improves your employment prospects. Employers provide on-the-job training to help new hires learn to respond to the various needs of their clients. Career progression opportunities are unlimited for care workers who pursue advanced degrees. For example, earning a bachelor or master's degree in social work or counseling can lead to jobs in case management or human services management.
2016 Salary Information for Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and human service assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,810 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, social and human service assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,350, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $40,030, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 389,800 people were employed in the U.S. as social and human service assistants.