What is a healthcare assistant?
Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) work within a range of hospital or community settings, often working alongside healthcare professionals in their role. The nature of this position mainly depends on the place of work – a HCA could be working in hospitals, the community, General Practice (GP) surgeries or mental health services.
What is the role of a healthcare assistant?
The typical day-to-day role of a healthcare assistant includes:
- Personal care of the patient – supporting their hygiene, comfort and safety
- Prioritising infection prevention
- Promoting positive mental health
- Ensuring their nutritional needs are met
- Aiding with clinical duties
- Checking and ordering supplies
In a hospital setting, your role may entail:
- Making beds
- Monitoring patient conditions by checking their pulse, temperature, weight and respirations
- Wash and dress patients
- Serve meals and help to feed patients
- Help people to move around
In health centres and GP surgeries, your role may extend to:
- Sterilising equipment
- Doing health checks
- Processing lab samples
- Taking blood pressure
- Health promotion work
- Restocking consulting rooms
Healthcare assistants are often the first port of call for patients, so they need to have strong interpersonal skills. You will need to have a hands-on attitude as you will often have to conduct a number of tasks during a small period of time. Whilst you will be working in a team, displaying a great initiative is a necessity, in addition to having excellent observational and organisational skills.
Healthcare assistant training
To become a healthcare assistant, having an alternative NVQ/BTEC is desirable. You will work towards a Care Certificate, and may also be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as:
- NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
- NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
To apply for HCA jobs, you will need experience in a healthcare setting and further training, such as Early Warning System (NEWS /PARS). If you wish to become a healthcare assistant in Northern Ireland or Scotland, you will be required to register with the SSSC.
How much does a healthcare assistant get paid?
The average salary for a healthcare assistant in the UK is £24,449 per annum – however, senior HCAs can earn in the region of £31,000. If you are just starting in this position, you can expect a salary of around £18,000. It’s important to note that these figures are a rough estimate of the average salary, and your pay will likely depend on your location.
Quite often, a typical standard working week for an HCA will be around 37.5 hours and will include a mixture of morning, afternoon and night shifts.
Opportunities for progression
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