Healthcare Assistant

As a healthcare assistant (HCA), you'll work under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, usually a nurse. Sometimes staff working in HCA roles are known as nursing assistants, nursing auxiliaries or auxiliary nurses.

The work varies depending on where you're based. In a hospital for example, you may be

  •     washing and dressing patients
  •     serving meals and helping to feed patients
  •     helping people to move around
  •     toileting
  •     making beds
  •     talking to patients and making them comfortable
  •     monitoring patients' conditions by taking temperatures, pulse, respirations and weight


In a health centres and GP surgery, you may

  •     sterilise equipment
  •     do health checks
  •     restock consulting rooms
  •     process lab samples
  •     take blood samples
  •     do health promotion or health education work


As well as nurses, HCAs work with doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals. They have a lot of contact with patients.

Skills and personal characteristics needed

To be a healthcare assistant, you'll need to be

  •     caring and kind
  •     cheerful and friendly
  •     willing to be hands-on with patients
  •     willing to do personal care tasks (washing, toileting, etc)
  •     able to follow instructions and procedures
  •     able to work in a team but use their own initiative
You'll also need
  •     communication skills, including listening
  •     organisation skills
  •     observational skills


Training and development

Your training as a healthcare assistant will include basic nursing skills and you'll work towards the Care Certificate, developed by Skills for Care, Skills for Health and Health Education England and launched in 2015.

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