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Healthcare assistants (HCAs) work in hospital or community settings, such as GP surgeries, Nursing Homes, under the guidance and supervision of a qualified healthcare professional, usually, a Nurse. Sometimes staff working in HCA roles are known as nursing assistants, nursing auxiliaries or auxiliary nurses.

Duties vary depending on where they are based.

Hospitals and Nursing Homes:

  • 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, respiration and weight

Health centres and GP surgery:

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

Skills and personal characteristics needed

To be a healthcare assistant, one 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
  • good communication skills, including listening,organisational skills,observational skills

Training and development

While 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.

Training as a healthcare assistant will include basic nursing skills and one is expected to work towards the Care Certificate, developed by Skills for Care,Skills for Health and Health Education England launched in 2015.

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