- Also known as
- Video: - Wendy: Health Care Assistant
- Video: - Tracey: Healthcare Assistant
- Video: - Christopher: Healthcare Assistant
- Video: - Susan: Healthcare Assistant
- Work Activities
- Personal Qualities and Skills
- Pay and Opportunities
- Entry Routes and Training
- Adult Opportunities
- Further Information
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
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
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.
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
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
In this role you may be required to complete a care certificate before starting work. Take a look at our information article '
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 '
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 6% of healthcare assistants work part-time.
- 8% have flexible hours.
- 5% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
NHS Wales Careers
Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Step into the NHS
Tel: 0345 6060655
Skills for Health
Skills for the health sector
Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 9221155
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN
Tel: 0131 6563200
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales