Healthcare assistant (HCA) jobs, a subset of healthcare jobs, involve working in a supporting role alongside qualified personnel who are providing care in a hospital or in the community. The focus of such care is to help people manage their health problems, improve patients’ quality of life and free up doctors and nurses for more specialist work.

Healthcare assistant jobs.

As it is not normally necessary to have existing qualifications in order to take on a healthcare assistant role, this can be a great first step in a health sector career. Many HCA jobs take the form of apprenticeships, providing the opportunity to acquire new skills and professional qualifications.

What a healthcare assistant job involves.

Being an HCA is challenging work and you will sometimes need to be resilient in your role, as some tasks can be unpleasant or upsetting. The job requires a natural friendliness and ability to engage with patients. Applicants for healthcare assistant jobs need to be physically fit themselves and need to pass background checks.

Heath care assistants are there to do all the supporting jobs that make it possible for qualified health care professionals to do their jobs. This can include a lot of hands-on patient care. Typical tasks include the following:

  • Feeding patients
  • Making beds
  • Helping patients use the toilet
  • Taking temperatures
  • Dressing wounds
  • Helping patients move around

In a busy hospital environment, it is often the HCA that takes on the primary role of checking on patients and making sure they have the things they need. An HCA can ensure that patients are safe and comfortable and are having their health properly monitored. In a home care context, an HCA may take on tasks like helping a patient to wash or preparing them to receive an injection.

Expectations and options.

The average HCA can expect to work 37.5 hours a week and receive an annual salary of around £14,000. Most HCAs do shift work including night shifts and weekend work, but there is some flexibility to this. As it is often possible for HCAs to pick up shifts on a part time basis, this is a job that can suit those with domestic responsibilities such as childcare, or can sit alongside a formal course of study.

Hard working HCAs may be able to acquire QCF qualifications in relation to the work they do, enabling them to take on more responsibilities and improve their earning capacity. A level 3 QCF qualification may gain an HCA entry into university to study nursing, and some health care employers are willing to part fund this.

Some HCAs choose to specialise in more unusual variants on the role, for instance by assisting midwives or working to support health care researchers. Work such as this can open up alternative qualification and career advancement routes. Whatever an individual’s ambitions within the health care field, working in a health care assistant job is a great way to pick up important basic skills and become established within the sector.