Best care companies to work for in the UK

‘Helping people. Putting a smile on people's face. Knowing that you are making a difference.'

This is what a care worker recently shared on Breakroom as the best thing about their job.

Care work has been under the spotlight this year, with recent discussions around underfunding and safety due to COVID-19.

However, for many people, care work is the ideal job for them.

Helping others, as well as being practical and sociable, is right at the heart of care work.

For some, vocational work like this is important for job satisfaction.

The need for care workers, particularly for adults, is also increasing. So the demand for care workers is bigger than ever. This means there are more and more job opportunities if you want to work in care.

Want to learn more about care work? Here’s what we’ll be covering:

We’ve looked at which care companies have been rated best by real care workers.

To make this list more manageable to read, we’ll be focusing on what care workers have told us about their employers.

But, jobs in care companies don’t stop here. There are also plenty of job opportunities in care companies that aren’t care worker roles. We’ll be talking about these a little later on.

The top 10 best care companies to work for

  1. Marie Curie: 7.4/10

  2. Care Plus: 7.1/10

  3. Framework: 6.8/10

  4. Capability Scotland: 6.8/10

  5. Belfast Trust: 6.8/10

  6. Nurseplus: 6.7/10

  7. Greensleeves Care: 6.7/10

  8. City Health Care Partnership: 6.7/10

  9. Abbeyfield: 6.5/10

  10. Virgin Care: 6.4/10

  11. Hillcroft Home: 6.4/10

Interested to find out more about what it’s like to work at these care companies? Read on.

What jobs can you do in a care company?

One of the first things you think of when it comes to care company jobs is care workers.

Most care work involves supporting and looking after vulnerable people.

This may be in their own homes, in a care home or in the general community.

You may be working with children, the elderly or adults with disabilities.

There are many different types of care jobs you can get involved in. These include:

  • Direct care worker

  • Personal assistant

  • Shared lives worker

You can learn more about the different types of care roles here.

There are also plenty of other jobs that care companies require. These include:

  • Kitchen assistants and cooks

  • Housekeepers and cleaners

  • Drivers

  • Maintenance workers

If you’d like to work at a care company, but not sure what role you’d like to do, it’s worth looking into these different jobs.

How much does a care worker get paid?

Care worker pay is a frequently discussed topic.

Let’s see what real care workers are currently earning.

We’ve included care employers that have 10 or more responses from workers on Breakroom. These are their average pay rates.

Employer 25% workers earn this or less 50% workers earn this or less 75% workers earn this or less
NHS £9.20 £9.72 £10.09
HC One £8.53 £8.84 £9.00
Care UK £8.61 £8.87 £9.00
Voyage Care £8.21 £8.45 £8.73
Barchester Healthcare £8.40 £8.72 £8.72

As you can see, the NHS offers the best pay rates for care workers.

However, 25% of NHS care workers earn less than the Real Living Wage (RLW). As of 2020, this is £9.30 for the UK, and £10.75 across London.

All the other care organisations featured here offer pay rates under the RLW.

Are care workers paid for extra work outside their contracted hours?

Whilst we’re looking at pay, let’s see if care workers get paid for any overtime or extra work that they do.

% care workers paid for extra work
Yes 24%
No 76%

Unfortunately, the majority of care workers do not get paid for any extra work.

How many hours do care workers work?

You’ve seen that care workers typically don’t get paid for extra work.

Now let’s look at how many hours they work.

Hours worked % care workers working these hours
Under 16 3%
16-34 36%
35 or more 61%

As you can see here, well over half of care workers work 35 hours or more a week, which is roughly the same as working full time.

Over a third of care workers work part time hours. Let’s see if these workers are worried about getting enough hours of work.

% care workers worry about hours
Yes 31%
No 69%

It’s good to see that the majority of care workers are not worried about getting enough hours.

Feeling secure and comfortable with shifts and rotas is important for many reasons.

Financial planning can feel a lot more stable when you know what money you have coming in.

Are care workers stressed?

We’ve seen that care workers work long hours, and are not paid for overtime.

So let’s look at something very important: are care workers stressed?

Here’s what they shared on Breakroom.

% care workers that are stressed
Yes 71%
No 29%

Almost three quarters of care workers are stressed. Let’s look at the reasons why.

What is a care worker shift like?

As you have seen, the majority of care workers work 35 hours or more a week.

Many care workers have shared that they have a heavy workload, as well as very long shifts.

In fact, a large number of care workers said that this is the worst thing about their job.

Here are some examples they have shared on Breakroom:

‘Too much to do and not enough time’

‘Can be physically demanding at times’

‘Very hard work and 12 hour shifts are too long’

‘Long hours, rare breaks, difficult situations’

‘Being on my feet for other 13 hours a day’

‘Most shifts are 12 hour shifts. The last 5 weeks I’ve worked every weekend’

One of the reasons care workers have big workloads is because many care companies are short staffed.

A lot of care workers shared that this is the worst thing about their job. Here’s what they said:

‘Never enough staff’

‘No breaks and grossly understaffed’

‘Poor staffing levels’

‘Staff shortages’

For a job that requires caring responsibilities, being short staffed and having a high workload is pretty stressful.

Do care workers get proper breaks?

As care workers take on large workloads, let’s see if they get proper breaks.

% care workers that get proper breaks
Yes 39%
No 61%

Unfortunately, the majority of care workers don’t get proper breaks.

Many care workers have shared that not having proper breaks is one of the worst things about their job.

Here are some examples:

‘Not enough hours between shifts’

‘No time for a break’

‘long hours, skipping breaks, need more staff’

‘Not allowed breaks and work 12 hour days. No mental health support. Feel very under appreciated. Very stressful.’

‘Only get half hour break in 12 hour shift’

‘Very hands on, sometimes do not even get time to have a break’

Long shifts coupled with lack of proper breaks can understandably lead to exhaustion and high stress levels.

Are care workers paid for their breaks?

You’ve seen that care workers don’t get proper breaks. But are they paid for the breaks they are able to take?

Let’s find out.

% care workers paid for breaks
Yes 28%
No 72%

Sadly, the vast majority of care workers don’t get paid for their breaks.

Everyone should be paid for all their time at work, whether they’re on a break or not.

Being able to take proper breaks that are paid for is important for wellbeing and stress levels. Especially in a job that has a high workload and long hours.

Do care workers get proper sick pay?

Everyone can get poorly. However, getting ill shouldn’t mean that you miss out on proper pay.

Let’s see if care workers get proper sick pay.

% care workers get sick pay
Yes 32%
No 68%

From what care workers have shared, the majority do not get sick pay.

From the long hours, intense workload, low pay, lack of proper breaks and sick pay, it’s no wonder why so many care workers are stressed.

However, this doesn’t have to be the norm for care work.

The Breakroom verdict on companies that hire care workers

Care work is truly a vocational role, and one that can be extremely rewarding.

However, this is a job that requires a lot of physical and emotional work.

Care companies should be putting measures in place to make sure that care workers aren’t overworked, and are equipped to deal with the pressures of the job.

This is what care companies can do to improve their Breakroom rating with care workers:

  • Increase pay for care workers so it’s in line with the Real Living Wage

  • Support the wellbeing of care workers and their stress levels

  • Review care worker workloads and shift lengths

  • Ensure care workers get proper breaks that are paid for

  • Ensure that care workers receive sick pay if they’re ill

As we previously mentioned, there’s an increasing need for care workers in the UK.

And with this demand, a strong and sustainable foundation for care workers needs to be established. And it’s up to the companies that hire them to set this up.

The data used here is from 7 September 2020

Published on 7 September 2020