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Care & Support Staff

Healthcare assistants (HCAs) work in hospital or community settings, such as GP surgeries, under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.

This page has information on the role of the healthcare assistant, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life

As a healthcare assistant (HCA), you'll work under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, usually a nurse. Sometimes staff working in HCA roles are known as nursing assistants, nursing auxiliaries or auxiliary nurses.

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The work varies depending on where you're based. In a hospital for example, you may be

  • washing and dressing patients
  • serving meals and helping to feed patients
  • helping people to move around
  • toileting
  • making beds
  • talking to patients and making them comfortable
  • monitoring patients' conditions by taking temperatures, pulse, respirations and weight

In a health centres and GP surgery, you may

  • sterilise equipment
  • do health checks
  • restock consulting rooms
  • process lab samples
  • take blood samples
  • do health promotion or health education work

As well as nurses, HCAs work with doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals. They have a lot of contact with patients.

Entry requirements 

There are no set entry requirements to become a healthcare assistant. Employers expect good literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths. They may ask for a healthcare qualification, such as BTEC or NVQ.

Employers expect you to have some experience of healthcare or care work. This could be from paid or voluntary work. There are sometimes apprenticeships in healthcare that can give you experience to apply for HCA posts.

Find out more about volunteering and gaining experience

Skills and personal characteristics needed 

To be a healthcare assistant, you'll need to be

  • caring and kind
  • cheerful and friendly
  • willing to be hands-on with patients
  • willing to do personal care tasks (washing, toileting, etc)
  • able to follow instructions and procedures
  • able to work in a team but use their own initiative

You'll also need

  • communication skills, including listening
  • organisation skills
  • observational skills

Training and development

Your training as a healthcare assistant will include basic nursing skills and you'll work towards the Care Certificate, developed by Skills for CareSkills for Health and Health Education England and launched in 2015.

You may also be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as

  • the CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
  • the CACHE level 2 or 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support

These could be done through an apprenticeship

Some HCAs join the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) as health practitioner members. The RCN runs training events and conferences so HCAs can update their skills and network with others doing similar work.

For Application Forms Please CLICK HERE

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