Day Care Officer

Day Care Officers (DCOs) provide a range of help in day centres for older people.  They also provide support for those living with learning and/or physical disabilities, or mental health needs.  Additionally, they may provide respite care - caring for clients so that their carers get a break.  DCOs are employed by local authority adult services departments in Wales. Their role is to help people maintain their independence and lead as full a life as possible.  Many clients live on their own and only get the chance to meet with others at the centre, so social activities play a large part in the care programmes.

Work Environment
DCOs work in day centres, some of which are open 7 days a week, others 5 days a week.  Day centres can range from small ones catering for a specific client group to larger and multi-purpose ones catering for a wider age range and disabilities or learning difficulties.  DCOs work as part of a team, supervising care assistants and reporting to a manager. Hours vary as some DCOs work sessional days - only mornings or only afternoons; others might work from 9am to 5pm every day (37 hours) or just part of the week.  Depending on the centre, some weekend work might be required. Some councils offer jobshares and flexible working.  Protective clothing and equipment such as gloves, tabards and in some cases personal safety alarms are provided.

Daily Activities
The smooth running of the day centre is the responsibility of the DCO. They liaise with the drivers who transport the clients to and from the centre and the catering staff who supply the lunches and other refreshments. They also supervise and organise the workload of care assistants. They might participate in the preparation and delivery of activities and in the personal care of clients where and when appropriate.  Personal care of clients includes toileting, bathing, washing clothes and in some cases help with eating.

The programme of social activities might include movement/physical therapy such as table and ball games, and mental stimulation such as quizzes, crosswords and other word/number games. Other activities might include art and craft or dealing on a one to one basis with clients. Some centres arrange for clients to have outings to the theatre or places of interest.  The DCO often plays a leading role in the design of individual care programmes for clients, working closely with the manager and carer and liaising with occupational therapists or social workers.  Paperwork plays a large part in a DCO's working day. There are many different forms to fill in and reports to write to monitor and review client process. A DCO will also meet regularly with the manager and care assistants to assess clients.

Skills & Abilities

  • Patience and tact are vital - particularly when dealing with someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other mental health problems.
  • It also helps to have imagination and creativity - to ensure the activity programmes are stimulating and meet clients' needs.
  • Anyone who can provide support in a sensitive manner to both staff and clients, but who also has organisational skills, will do well in this job.

Entry Requirements
There are no specific minimum entry requirements.  Personal qualities are usually considered more important than qualifications.  Previous experience of working with people in a social care/support setting can be very useful.  Some councils might offer the opportunity to work towards NVQ/SVQ in Direct Care modules.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
More senior posts such as Senior DCO or Assistant Care Manager are likely to require social work or care qualifications as well as experience.

Further Information & Services
Care Council for Wales
Community Service Volunteers
Health and Care Professions Council
Social Care careers information

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales  or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

Related Links