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Job Photographs

  • A man is sitting in a chair next to a hospital bed.  A woman, wearing a white uniform, is standing next to him.  She is taking his blood pressure.

    Checking a patient's blood pressure.

  • A man is sitting in a chair next to a hospital bed.  A woman, wearing a white uniform, is standing next to him.  She is taking his temperature.

    Taking the patient's temperature.

  • A man is sitting in a chair next to a hospital bed.  A woman, wearing a white uniform, is sitting on the bed.  She is making notes.

    Keeping records of patient information.

  • Two women are standing either side of a hospital bed.  They are helping to turn a patient over on to their side.

    Turning the patient so that she does not get pressure sores.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair next to a hospital bed.  A woman, wearing a white uniform, is sitting next to her.  They are talking.

    Chatting to a patient to reassure her about her treatment.

  • Somebody is looking into a box of medical equipment and filling in a form.

    Healthcare assistants use technical equipment, such as this machine which is used for checking a blood sample.

  • Healthcare Assistant

Healthcare Assistant

Introduction

Healthcare assistants provide basic health care for patients, working under the supervision of a nurse. They have tasks such as feeding patients, making beds and sorting laundry, and helping patients to dress and use the toilet. They take readings, for example, of temperature, weight and pulse. They work in hospitals and in the community, including in patients' own homes.

Also known as

  • Auxiliary, Health Care
  • Care Assistant, Health
  • Hospital Care Assistant
  • Nursing Auxiliary

Video: - Wendy: Health Care Assistant

Video: - Tracey: Healthcare Assistant

Video: - Christopher: Healthcare Assistant

Video: - Susan: Healthcare Assistant

Work Activities

As a Healthcare Assistant, you are responsible for routine care tasks, working under the supervision of a Nurse or another medical professional.

Some patients cannot get about very easily. It is your job to help them with personal hygiene and to get them to the bathroom, or to help them use a bedpan.

If the patient cannot get out of bed at all, you will need to give them a bed bath, dress and undress them.

You will use manual handling aids and equipment to help with lifting. You will also help to turn them regularly to prevent them from getting pressure sores. Some patients might also need help to feed themselves.

Generally, you will have to keep a close eye on patients, noticing when their condition changes and making sure they are comfortable. You will need to give patients food and drink regularly.

If a patient is experiencing pain, you might ask a Doctor for pain relief on their behalf.

Hospital based Healthcare Assistants might work with Housekeepers to keep the ward clean and tidy. This includes changing the linen on the beds and either put it down a chute or bag it up, to be collected by the laundry staff.

You must dispose of used dressings (and anything else that may be a health risk) in special containers.

The more technical side of the job involves taking patients' temperature and pulse rates, and taking urine samples.

With further training, you can take on extra responsibilities. For example, you can take blood samples from patients (this is known as phlebotomy or venupuncture).

You can also help out with simple clinical tasks such as changing dressings and collecting specimens for testing. You are responsible for checking supplies and might order replacements when needed.

You can also give patients encouragement and emotional support, for example, reassuring a patient before an operation. You might also comfort and reassure the patient's family or carer.

Healthcare Assistants working with patients with mental health problems help to increase patients' confidence and independence, for example, by going with them on shopping trips. Most patients with mental health problems live in community settings and not in hospitals.

Some Healthcare Assistants are community-based, for example, working alongside District Nurses. This means you will have to travel around a local area.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Healthcare Assistant, you'll need:

  • a caring and responsible attitude
  • sensitivity and sympathy, with the ability to respect each patient's dignity and sense of independence
  • patience and tact
  • communication skills to support the patient and give reassurance
  • practical skills and a willingness to do messy tasks
  • emotional strength because some of the work can be distressing
  • stamina and physical fitness, as this is a physically demanding job
  • strong observational skills, for example, to monitor changes in a patient's condition
  • the ability to keep careful, accurate notes and write short reports
  • teamwork skills
  • the ability to use your initiative

A driving licence is an advantage for Healthcare Assistants who visit patients in their own homes, and can be essential for some community-based posts.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting - Band 2: £17,652 - £19,020
  • With experience - Band 3: £18,813 - £20,795
  • Senior Healthcare Assistants - Band 4: £21,089 - £23,761

Hours of work

Healthcare Assistants work 37.5 hours a week. Shift work is usual and overtime is common. Many employers offer flexitime, job-sharing and term-time working. Agency and 'bank' working are increasingly available.

Where could I work?

Employers include the NHS (in hospitals and in the community), the armed forces, independent healthcare companies and private care homes. Opportunities for Healthcare Assistants occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, in local/national newspapers, at Jobcentre Plus, on the Find a Job website and on job boards.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most people apply for vacancies and then have on-the-job training.

You could decide to go on a full-time school or college course before looking for a vacancy. For example, qualifications in health and social care can provide a good preparation for careers in health care.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Training

In this role you may be required to complete a care certificate before starting work. Take a look at our information article 'care certificate' for more information.

Training is usually on-the-job, possibly with day-release to college. You might be able to work towards a level 2 or 3 qualification such as a:

  • diploma in health and social care
  • diploma in clinical healthcare support
  • certificate or diploma in healthcare support service

The Open University runs a foundation degree in healthcare practice. To do this, you need to be working in a healthcare setting for at least two days a week.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Work Experience

Some entrants have had experience in providing healthcare, maybe having worked as a volunteer. Previous experience in the health environment will be useful for this career.

Progression

Gaining experience and qualifications often leads to increased responsibility. Promotion could be to a Senior Healthcare Assistants role and then to a post as an Assistant Practitioner. Achieving a relevant level 3 qualification could enable you to enter training as a

Nurse at university.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.

This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Qualifications

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

It's possible to enter and train through a relevant Intermediate Level Apprenticeship or Advanced Level Apprenticeship. Please ask your local NHS Trust for more information or visit the Apprenticeships website.

Statistics

  • 6% of healthcare assistants work part-time.
  • 8% have flexible hours.
  • 5% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

NHS Jobs

Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

Step into the NHS

NHS careers

Tel: 0345 6060655

Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

Tel: 0131 6563200

Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith

Cymraeg

Welcome to Careers Wales

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