Care home workers take part in the WorldSkills competition

Two care assistants are representing the UK at this year's WorldSkills competition. Kirsty McGregor finds out about their ambitions and the training involved

Two care assistants are representing the UK at this year’s WorldSkills competition. Kirsty McGregor finds out about their ambitions and the training involved

The competition brings together young people from 55 countries and regions to compete in 46 competitions, covering skills as diverse as caring, carpentry and beauty therapy. For the first time this year, the UK is entering two care workers into the WorldSkills international skills competition, in London on 5-8 October. Frances McMenemy (above left) and Emma Fitzpatrick (above right), both care assistants at Bupa’s Eastbank Care Home in Glasgow, explain why they became involved in this year’s event. 

How did you get into care work?

Emma: I left school at 15 and started working as an apprentice in a nursery. Although I did that for more than four years, I always wanted to get into health and social care. So I phoned the local nursing homes to see whether they could offer me a job. Bupa had an apprenticeship scheme where they put you through your NVQ in health and social care. So I did that, working on it even when I was in hospital for several weeks after appendicitis. I think dedication was one of the reasons my NVQ assessor put me forward for WorldSkills.

Frances: When I was looking at college courses, I took an interest in health care because I wanted to study something I could get a job out of. I passed my NVQ3 at the beginning of this year. Since then I’ve enjoyed working with the elderly and people with dementia, although it has its ups and downs: I hate to see dementia patients deteriorate and forget who they are, but it’s lovely when clients invite you to family parties.

Why did you decide to take part in WorldSkills?

Emma: A lot of people don’t take care work seriously. They think all you’re doing is getting someone dressed, but that’s not the case. I’m hoping this competition will help people understand the skill involved in caring for someone. Because there has been a lot of negativity in the press this year about care homes and neglect, I want to show people that we’re not all the same.

Frances: Caring has such a bad name just now; this is a good way to promote the profession.

What have you had to do so far?

Emma: We had to go to Leicester and act out role plays. Most of them were nursing and care assistant activities, like dealing with someone who’s paralysed, or getting someone up and dressed for their physio; the kind of things we do every day. There were eight or 10 of us, and that was whittled down to six and finally two. Since then, there has been a lot of training for the competition.

Frances: We have taken modules on skills such as moving and handling people or taking blood pressure. Since the UK team was selected earlier this year, we have been away on a training course every couple of weeks. We have a training manager who goes through everything we might be tested on, and we have a “chief expert” who knows the competition rules and can tell us how to get more points.

What do you hope to get out of the competition?

Emma: I’m hoping to get a lot of opportunities out of this. I’ve already been offered one job because of taking part in the competition. In the future I want to work with youth offenders and in children’s homes and I would be interested in counselling, but not social work; I’m too soft for that.

Frances: It’s going to look so good on my CV. I’d like to stay in elderly and dementia care, but move up the ranks – and there are going to be lots of people from the sector there on the day.

What the judges will look for

●Competitors are assessed in pairs. Each pair will be required to plan and deliver care based on a hypothetical situation.

●The assignments will be rotated throughout the competition period. They will relate to holistic physical and psychosocial care, support and growth and rehabilitation – or a combination of these areas. For example, competitors may be required to perform household tasks such as preparing a meal, monitor blood pressure, or organise educational activities such as arts and crafts or music.

●Competitors will be expected to: assess the situation and identify the needs of the client; plan the care they will deliver and provide evidence-based care. They will require the necessary theoretical knowledge and skills to carry out the practical work.

*  The next WorldSkills competition will be held in Leipzig, Germany, in 2013. Find out about that and attending this year’s event

Published in 15 September 2011 edition of Community Care under the heading ‘Care home pair take on the world’

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