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Understanding Your Role in Care

Last updated on 20th December 2023

To gain a better understanding of what your role entails, you should have a job description. It should cover what your main duties and responsibilities are and should also include who you report to.

Some examples of the duties you may find in your description could include:

  • Providing care and support.
  • Working as part of a team.
  • Contributing to activities.
  • Respecting confidentiality.

It is impractical to list every task that you will be expected to carry out. However, your job description should provide you with an understanding of the main aspects of your role.

You must read through your job description and understand what is being asked of you. If you do not have a copy of your job description, you should ask your employer to provide one. Your job description should detail what your employer expects of you and what is excluded from your role.

You must always carry out your work in agreed ways and always adhere to regulations, local policies and procedures.

Providing care and support

When you are providing care and support, you will be expected to:

  • Work in a person-centred manner, which requires you to take into account the needs of individuals (service users).
  • Communicate well with individuals, colleagues and others.
  • Build relationships with those around you.
  • Promote equality and diversity when carrying out your role.

Working as part of a team

Working in teams and cooperating with others is essential in health and social care. It would be impossible for you to perform all of your duties successfully on your own as you would not have the time.

Also, you may not have the necessary expertise and experience in certain areas. This could put people’s health and safety at risk and may affect the quality of care you provide. Being a supportive member of your team is vital in ensuring the best possible outcomes for individuals’ care.

You should always develop your skills so that you can make improvements to your work. This will help you to work effectively within your team.

Contributing to activities

There will be many activities that you will contribute to, and you must ensure that you do so safely.

You should also:

  • Keep and file clear records.
  • Adhere to relevant laws, such as regulations.
  • Follow company policies, procedures and agreed ways of working.

Regulations, which are also known as Statutory Instruments or delegated legislation, are rules that are created from Acts of Parliament. Some have also come from the European Union (EU) in the past. Regulations are laws of the land established by legislation, which provides a specific means of interpreting and applying those laws.

Respecting confidentiality

You must respect confidentiality, which requires you not to discuss or disclose anyone’s personal information to anyone unauthorised; whether it is the personal information of individuals or your colleagues.

The safe handling and storing of personal records are also vital in ensuring that you are respecting people’s confidentiality.


You must carry out your role competently, which means having the ability and expertise to understand an individual’s health and social needs to deliver effective care. Competence is one of the 6Cs, which are values for all health and social care staff and are essential to compassionate care.

Your knowledge and skills will grow as you continue to develop in your health and social care role. Your employer may request that you start a new qualification during or after your induction has been completed. Beyond your induction, your employer should invest in your learning and development.

Nurse completing her CPD training to stay up to date with relevant knowledge

Experiences, background, beliefs and attitudes

Your attitudes and beliefs may have influenced your decision to work in the health and social care sector.

They can also lead to you making assumptions and judgements about people and situations, which may not be correct. It is vital to develop self-awareness, which can help you learn not to make assumptions and judgements.

Being self-aware and taking the time to learn and understand that other people have different attitudes and beliefs will help you work in ways that value the individuals you are supporting. It will also help you work better with your colleagues.

  • Experiences – Your experiences, attitudes and beliefs affect how you behave, how you think and how you act. They all contribute to who you are as a person.
  • Background – How you were brought up, your background, your education, your culture, what you have experienced and your relationships will all influence how you see the things around you.
  • Beliefs – These are closely connected to your morals and values. They are aspects of your life that you feel strongly about, which provide you with daily guidance. Religious beliefs would be an example.
  • Attitudes – These are the approaches, opinions and mindset that you have developed throughout your upbringing, life and learning experiences.

Values, aims, objectives

To understand your role, it is important to be aware of what your employer wants to achieve. You can find this out by looking at the values, aims and objectives of your organisation.

  • Values – Are the beliefs or ideals of the organisation, which should be evident in all aspects of care that you provide.
  • Aims – Are the overall general goals of the organisation, i.e., what they are hoping to achieve through their activities. You will play a part in contributing and helping your employer in achieving these aims.
  • Objectives – Are the specific things that must be in place to achieve the aims.

Your employer should make you aware of what their values, aims and objectives are. If these have not been written down, you should ask your manager to inform you of what they are.

Your rights and responsibilities at work

There are many pieces of legislation that protect workers from harm and protect their rights as employees. There is also legislation that gives employees certain responsibilities and some that have been introduced to ensure that everyone is treated fairly at work.

Some examples of the key legislation which is relevant to those working in health and social care are:

  • The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • The Equality Act 2010.

Your rights as an employee are:

  • A safe working environment and the provision of equipment that keeps you safe.
  • Confidentiality regarding your personal and sensitive data.
  • Pay that is equal to the work you do.
  • Fair employment terms, which includes working hours and pay.

Health and safety at work – employer responsibilities

The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act (HSWA) 1974 is the primary health and safety legislation for Great Britain.

It places duties on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their employees. Therefore, you have a right to:

  • Safe work equipment and systems of work.
  • A safe working environment, including when you go to and from that workplace.
  • Adequate information, instruction, training and supervision.
  • Protective equipment, which is provided free of charge.
  • Be consulted, directly or via representatives, on matters that could affect your health and safety.
  • Know your employer’s policy on health and safety.

Employers also have duties to others, such as members of the public. The self-employed also have duties to themselves and others.

In addition to the Act, numerous health and safety regulations will apply, and your employer will have duties under these laws. For example, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must manage health and safety within their business. They must also make suitable and sufficient assessments of the risks that you and others could be exposed to at work.

Your employer should have policies and procedures in place, or they should inform you about the agreed ways of working to keep you, your colleagues and those who you support, safe.

Deputy manager in charge of employee welfare while at work

Health and safety at work – employee responsibilities

Employers have the overall responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. However, you, as an employee, also have responsibilities. You have legal duties under health and safety legislation.

You must:

  • Look after yourself and others who could be affected by your acts or omissions.
  • Cooperate with your employer, so that they can comply with legislation.
  • Not interfere with anything that has been provided to protect your health and safety.
  • Use equipment and safety devices in accordance with the training and instructions you receive.
  • Report any serious and imminent dangers to your employer.
  • Notify your employer of any shortcomings in their health and safety arrangements.

You must comply with your employer’s policies and procedures. If you have any health and safety concerns, you must report them to your employer, manager, supervisor or health and safety representative.

Working in partnership

Your role will require you to work with many different people who have a variety of roles. This is known as ‘partnership working’.

There are four ways in which the main working relationships in health and social care are categorised, for example:

  • Individuals who are being cared for, their family and friends.
  • Your managers, supervisors and other colleagues.
  • People who are from other workplaces, including advocates.
  • Volunteers and community groups.

These groups are also known as key stakeholders. Having a good working relationship with these groups will enhance the quality of care that is provided to individuals.

Working with individuals

When working with individuals (service users) in their health and social care setting, there may be situations where their carer may support them by visiting and providing food.

In this scenario, you would ensure that this complies with the individual’s care plan and routine. This may also include supporting the individual to enable them to share their wishes with the carer.

Working with other workers

There may be instances where other workers may provide a particular service to an individual you care for and support.

An example scenario could be:

  • A dietician advises the individual about their weight.
  • They assist them in agreeing on a plan regarding their meals and snacks.
  • They consider any preferences or special dietary needs.

In this particular situation, you could encourage the individual to stick to the diet. You could also provide support by encouraging them to tell you if the diet is working or if any changes are required. In instances where the individual was unwell or not eating, you would arrange for their diet to be reviewed hastily.

As health and social care workers are in regular contact with an individual, they are in a position to play a vital role in making observations and links with other workers. This partnership is crucial in providing the best possible overall health and social care to an individual.

Working relationships

There must be mutual respect involved in all working relationships. You should value other people’s knowledge and skills, and focus on working together in the best interests of the individual who is receiving care and support.

It cannot be reiterated enough about the importance of people working together in health and social care. In serious case reviews, which are carried out when a vulnerable adult dies or is significantly harmed, failings in partnership working are identified as a key factor in what went wrong.


An advocate is a trusted, independent person who provides support such as speaking and acting on behalf of the individual. They can provide advice on many matters, such as benefits, and can ensure that the individual’s voice is heard in care planning meetings.

Having an advocate in care planning meetings means that when any decisions are made, they are made in the interests of the individual and in line with their care plan.

The Care Act 2014 made the role of advocates and advocacy services more vital.

Effective partnership working

For partnership working to be effective, the following are essential:

  • Communication.
  • Record-keeping.
  • Trust.
  • Respect.
Nurses working together using good communication


Good communication between all those involved in providing care and support to individuals is of vital importance. Workers in health and social care must trust, respect and value each other. They should also believe in everyone’s ability to work together as a team to achieve common goals.

Effective communication is essential in ensuring a workplace is successful for both individuals who are being cared for and staff.

For communication to be effective, it must be:

  • Open and two-way.
  • Accurate, and not misleading.
  • Understandable.
  • The right language for the individual so that they can understand what is being said.
  • Free of jargon where possible, as people can misunderstand.

Jargon or complex terminology is often used by professionals, which can be difficult for others to understand if they don’t work in that field. You and your colleagues may understand the jargon being used, but others may not. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of this when communicating with individuals, their family and friends.

There may be instances where you will work with individuals who have complicated communication needs. To be able to support them to communicate well, it may be necessary to consider:

  • Translators.
  • Pictures.
  • Communication boards.
  • Assistive technology.


You must ensure that accurate records are kept. This ensures that all people involved are kept up to date on the individual’s progress and care plan.

If an incident occurs, any relevant information must be shared in an efficient, safe and secure manner.

All records must be:

  • Up to date.
  • Understandable and legible.
  • Securely stored.

Trust – Trust is vital to all good working relationships and essential in open, honest and successful partnership working. All those involved, such as the individual you are caring for and your colleagues, must be able to confidently rely on those working with them.

Respect – You must always work in ways that will encourage respect. You should understand and respect what each person contributes to the planning and provision of care.

It applies to:

  • All individuals being cared for (service users).
  • The individuals’ carers and support network.
  • Other workers.

Advice and support

Unfortunately, there may be instances where disagreements arise between workers from different agencies or between the individual receiving care/support and those supporting them.

Conflicts that remain unresolved can negatively impact on the quality of care that is provided.

You should:

  • Ask for advice about partnership working.
  • Resolve conflicts when faced with problems.
  • Ask your manager or your colleagues, as they will be familiar with the workplace and will possess the skills and experience to be able to advise and help you.

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About the author

Michelle Putter

Michelle Putter

Michelle graduated with an MSc in wildlife biology and conservation in 2012, but her career has taken quite a different turn to the one expected. She started in health and safety in 2009 and has worked in several industries such as electrical engineering, aviation and manufacturing. She has been working with CPD Online College since 2018 and became NEBOSH Diploma qualified in 2020. In her spare time, Michelle's passions are wildlife and her garden. She has volunteered for many conservation organisations and particularly enjoys biological recording. Michelle also likes hiking, jogging and cycling.

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