Cook or kitchen assistant

Cook or kitchen assistantYou’ll prepare, cook and serve meals to people usually in a nursing or residential home, or in a day care centre.

Your role might include:

  • developing healthy and balanced meals in consultation with residents and staff
  • being aware of people’s religious and cultural backgrounds and how this might impact on their dietary requirements
  • monitoring kitchen stocks and ordering supplies
  • ensuring high standards of hygiene and cleanliness are maintained. 


Everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills including team work and problem solving skills. What core skills do I need to work in social care outlines some of the skills you need and has short activities to help you think about transferable skills from your previous experience.

There are also some specific skills needed to work in this role. These include:

  • the ability to treat people with dignity
  • good listening and observational skills
  • some awareness of the challenges faced by people who need care and support
  • number skills. 

You don’t necessarily need any qualifications to become a kitchen assistant but it might be useful to have some previous experience in the catering industry. Some colleges also offer courses in hospitality and catering which can provide useful skills and knowledge before finding work.

It’s also really important that you have the right values and behaviours to work in social care.

To become a cook or kitchen manager you might need a relevant qualification such as a Professional Chef Diploma, BTEC National Certificate in Hospitality Supervision or an Advanced Chef Diploma. However you could do these qualifications whilst on the job.  


If you’re interested in working as a chef, there’s lots of advice about finding a role on the Starting your career page. You could look online or in your local newspaper to find vacancies, or you might want to contact local care providers to ask them directly.

You could also apply to do an apprenticeship as a chef. You can find out more about hospitality apprenticeships from the National Apprenticeship Service, including a link to live vacancies. 


When you start in your role you should do an induction which includes training necessary for your role such as health and safety and food hygiene. You might also receive specific social care training such as autism awareness, communication skills or working with people with dementia.

When in your role you could do a vocational qualification such as a Certificate in Food Hygiene or continuing professional development qualification such as a food allergy awareness course or adult dysphagia training.

Your employer might pay for you to do these qualifications (they could apply for the Workforce Development Fund to help), or you could apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to pay for them yourself.

There may be opportunities to progress into more senior kitchen roles or you might choose to go into other social care roles such as a care worker, senior care worker, rehabilitation worker or a personal assistant. Read more on the Job roles in social care page.