Would you be a good healthcare assistant?

By Rachel Lamb . 02/05/2019 · 2 Minute read

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Healthcare Assistants, also known as HCAs, may not have the fanciest titles in the healthcare industry, but their role is one that hospitals, care homes and the like simply couldn't do without.

If you've ever wondered what typical healthcare assistant duties are, you may be surprised that their job is so much more than 'assisting doctors and nurses' - a common misconception. True, they will work under the guidance of another healthcare professional, but there is a certain level of autonomy involved, which means all Healthcare Assistants must be extremely observant and quick to act when their skills are needed.

Depending on the healthcare setting, HCAs will work with a wide range of patients, from the very young to the very old. The daily duties for a hospital HCA job may include helping patients with:

  • Washing and dressing
  • Eating and drinking
  • General moving around
  • Bed making
  • Trips to the toilet
  • Social interaction
  • Monitoring their conditions

However, the healthcare assistant duties within a GP surgery, for example, may differ to a hospital setting and could include:

  • Performing health checks
  • Restocking consultation rooms
  • Sterilising equipment
  • Taking blood or giving injections
  • Promoting good health

Whatever setting a healthcare assistant finds themselves in, one thing is absolutely certain: it is always a very patient-centred role, with both face-to-face and physical contact. For this reason, a good HCA will be happy to assist patients with considerably personal tasks, such as washing and going to the toilet. If the healthcare assistant role is within a hospital or care home setting, HCAs should be prepared to work with elderly patients who may suffer from dementia, so they must be extremely patient, kind and friendly.

Any seasoned healthcare assistant will know all too well that their role requires balance. A good sense of humour and a light-hearted, friendly approach will always come in handy, especially for younger or nervous patients, but when things get serious, the HCA will be able to act accordingly. Healthcare Assistants should also have:

  • Emotional strength
  • Stamina
  • Patience
  • Excellent communication
  • Strong organisational skills
  • A positive attitude

How to become a healthcare assistant

To become a healthcare assistant, there are minimal entry requirements. Applicants should have good literacy and numeracy skills, and employers may ask for a school-level qualification in English and Mathematics. 

Typically, employers will look for candidates who have some experience working within a healthcare setting, be it from paid or voluntary work.

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