Describe the functional level of literacy, numeracy and communication skills necessary to carry out their role and explain how to check their own level

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

The functional level of literacy, numeracy and communication skills are the minimum standards required for you to be able to carry out your role effectively.

You don’t need to be a genius but you will need to be able to read, write, speak and listen to a reasonable standard and be able to perform basic maths.

Many people need extra help to attain and maintain the required levels of functional skills and organisations understand this and will often provide support.


This is your level of reading and writing. The importance of this skill cannot be understated in a health and social care setting. You must be able to understand and comprehend things that your read and similarly must be able to make yourself understood by others using the written word.

Some things that you may need to do as part of your role that require good literacy skills are:

  • Reading & writing care plans
  • Reading company policies
  • Reading letters and emails
  • Keeping records e.g. MAR sheets, money sheets, communications book
  • Writing risk assessments

A Functional Skills English qualification or English Language GCSE grade A-C represents the level required.


You won’t need to be an expert at calculus or trigonometry but you should be able to manage simple arithmetic (even if using a calculator) and have a good understanding of some basic mathematical concepts such as percentages, fractions, measurements, decimals etc.

You will use your numeracy skills every day in an adult care setting. Some tasks that require good numeracy skills are:

  • Balance checking (counting client’s money)
  • Booking client’s money in and out
  • Measuring medication dosage
  • Measuring cooking ingredients
  • Checking you’ve been paid correctly

A Functional Skills Maths qualification or Maths GCSE grade A-C represents the level required.

Communication skills

You will need to ensure that you can communicate well with others including the individuals you support, their family, your co-workers, managers and other professionals. This means ensuring that you understood and that you listen to and understand others.

Some individuals may have specific communication needs that you will have to adapt to. For example they may need to see your face so that they can read your lips or require extra time to process information you give them. This will be documented in their care plan.

How to check your own level

There are several ways that you can check your current level of literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

Existing qualifications

If you have already achieved qualifications in maths and english such as GCSE or Functional Skills, you should already be at the level required.

Your manager

Your manager should be able to advise you about areas that you could improve. This could be part of regular formal supervision or informally. For example, your manager may not be able to read your hand-written notes and suggest training or learning activities that could make your handwriting more legible.

Your workplace

Your organisation may offer worksheets, test papers or internal training or may be able to signpost you to an external training partner that supplies these services.

External agencies

You could also source training and assessment for yourself.


There are also many websites that offer free assessment for functional skills online. This is something I also hope to be able to offer here on this website in the future, however in the meantime, the following resources may be useful: