What does a healthcare assistant do?
We all need a helping hand now and again. Whether this is caring for someone in their time of need, or just being there when it matters, healthcare assistants are an important part of the health system. Working in hospitals, care homes or visiting the patient’s own home, healthcare assistants, also known as nursing assistants or nursing auxiliaries, help with the day-to-day duties of patient care. This means keeping a patient clean, helping them get dressed in the morning, ensuring they eat well, take medications and staying as healthy as they can.
The job varies slightly depending on where the healthcare assistant spends most of their time. In hospitals, they will need to escort patients between departments, assist with treatments and help with general duties on the ward. When working in the community, a healthcare assistant will care for patients who cannot manage on their own, this may even include doing household chores such as making a bed or cleaning.
Is this the job for me?
If you get a buzz out of helping others and have a real ability to relate to people in their moment of need, this could be a job description worth reading. As a healthcare assistant, your job will be demanding and varied; you will need to be patient, tactful and sensitive. A highly rewarding job, you will get to know your patients very well and you’ll finish everyday knowing how much of a difference you’ve made.
What are the working hours like?
You will usually work 37.5 hours a week, yet this is often not the standard nine till five. Patients will need to be looked after at all hours of the day, so your job might include weekend, evening or shift work. For this reason, a lot of healthcare assistants work part time.
Depending on your employer, you might work on a rota system, in a larger team, or on your own.
What’s the salary like?
As a healthcare assistant working for the NHS, your starting salary will be between £15,000 and £18,000 a year, depending on where you are based. With experience however, this can rise to around £20,000.
Where will I be based?
This completely depends on your employer – sometimes you will work in a traditional hospital setting, other times you will be based in a care home or working from patient’s homes. Depending on where you work, a driving license may be required if you are expected to travel a lot and are working in an area without public transport.
How do I get there?
Unfortunately, there is not one specific course that will guarantee you a job as a healthcare assistant. You might be able to get into a trainee role without any experience in the industry, however for other roles, previous experience or a healthcare qualification would give you an advantage.
It’s worth noting, this is one role that will involve continual training from your employer. This may include clinical hygiene skills, techniques for lifting and moving patients, or gaining health and safety qualifications. You may also be encouraged to work towards qualifications, such as the Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support Services or the Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support. With these qualifications, you might be able to train as a healthcare professional, such as a nurse, radiographer or midwife.
Need more info?
So we’ve given you the basics and now you want to find out more? Here are some good places to start –
NHS Learning and Development Service
Skills for Care (England)