What is it Like to Work in Special Care

10 January 2023

Banner Default Image

What is it like and why is it so rewarding?

Social Care Workers work in many settings - from mainstream residential care, to community healthcare centres and schools. One such Social Care environment that offers professionals the opportunity to engage in some of the most unique, meaningful and important work of their careers is Special Care.

At TTM Healthcare Solutions (TTM), we are recruiting Social Care Workers for two Tusla Special Care Units in Dublin, so we’d like to share with you what this strand of Social Care is about. How does it support young people to have positive experiences? What are the opportunities and challenges and what are some misconceptions around this kind of care?

Most of all, are you a Social Care Worker with the personality to thrive in this type of work? Why should you consider applying for one of these important roles?

What is Special Care?

Special Care is a secure, residential service for young people who are struggling with a situation in their lives and require extra support, and who may be at risk from themselves or others. These young people are aged between 11 and 17 years, are vulnerable and can sometimes face complex psychological and sociological challenges due to personal or family circumstances. Some children can be moved from mainstream residential care to Special Care for a time, where they are given short-term, safe care in a therapeutic environment.

The aim of Special Care is to provide individualised programmes of support, specialised educational and clinical services as well as skilled therapeutic interventions to help each young person stabilise and to promote their development.

What does a Social Care Worker do in Special Care?

Every young person in Special Care is cared for and protected by a dedicated Social Care Worker. As part of a supportive, multi-disciplinary team, Social Care Workers help these young people develop their education, skills sets and coping mechanisms - equipping them to deal with difficulties in their lives. Supports will focus on reducing risk-taking behaviour, enhancing their self-esteem and encouraging individual responsibility.

What qualifications do I need?

While traditionally, those coming to work in Social Care have a Level 7 or Level 8 qualification in Social Care, Social Science and Applied Social Care - today, professionals in Special Care come from any of the below diverse backgrounds:

• Youth and Community
• BA(Hons) Youth and Community Development
• BA (Hons) Psychology
• Addiction Studies level 7
• BA (Hons) counselling and Addiction Studies
• Disability Diploma (Primary Degree) - level 7
• Social Science (level 7 Minimum)

“The most important thing is that you have the passion, ambition, interest and curiosity to work with young people - and to effect change.”
- Peter Clifford, TTM Sales Manager

Working in Special Care, what kind of personality should I have?

If you are considering working in Special Care, your number one personal attribute needs to be ENTHUSIASM. It’s about having the core passion to work with young people, to support them in times of crisis and to help them develop. It’s about enjoying the reward of making a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Of course, it can be challenging work - so you need to have good inner strength and an engaging personality that can pick a team up when it gets tough, as well as a sense of humour along the way. Special Care is a dynamic setting: things change quickly and all the time, so you need to think on your feet, be flexible to adapt, make quick informed decisions with common sense, and always be one step ahead.

“If you’re looking for a challenge, something different… If you want to promote positive experiences for young people and learn about yourself - this is the job for you.”
- Paul, Tusla Social Care Worker

What are the challenges and the rewards?

Coming into a Special Care environment for the first time might feel strange and unknown, but you’ll quickly adjust. The key is to ask questions, use the support offered and take the time to get to know the young people and their care plans. Working with young people in Special Care means that every day is a learning experience - and what worked yesterday might need a different approach tomorrow.

Seeing the impact you’ll have on those you support brings the kind of incomparable fulfilment that can truly enrich your career. There’s always something new to understand and learn, always fresh rewards.

Special Care roles offer exceptional pay scales, with other benefits such as a Special Care Allowance. Your career growth is also well-supported, through continued development opportunities.

Correcting myths about Special Care…

Find out more by watching our Q&A with David Biggins, Social Care Manager, Tusla Special Care Service.

Does this sound of interest to you? Would you like to know more? TTM has Special Care roles available at Tusla’s units in Portrane in Dublin North East, and in Lucan in Dublin West.

You can read about the requirements, benefits and apply here.