Healthcare Assistants (or HCA’s) are often seen as the backbone of patient care. Working in a variety of both hospital and community settings, such as GP surgeries, HCA’s work directly with patients to improve their day to day care and wellbeing. Unlike Nursing roles, there are no specific requirements to become an HCA, which combined with the opportunities to gain QCF qualifications on the job, make this a great starting point if you wasnt a career in healthcare.
While there are no specific requirements required to become a Healthcare Assistant, some healthcare or care work experience is often desired so it may be advisable to look in to volunteer opportunities if you’re lacking experience. An alternative may be to do an entry level healthcare qualification such as a BTEC or NVQ. All of these factors, while not required, will help you in your job search
Healthcare Assistants work under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. This is usually a nurse but could also include doctors, midwives or other healthcare professionals and as a result, the role is sometimes called a Nursing Assistant, Nursing Auxiliary or an Auxiliary Nurse. Duties can vary a lot depending on where the role is based but that allows you, as a job seeker, to find a role that fits your interests perfectly.
Working in a hospital, you may find yourself serving meals, monitoring patients’ vital information and making beds as well as talking to patients and making sure they are as comfortable as possible. However, in a GP Surgery, you’re just as likely to find yourself sterilizing equipment, taking blood samples, doing health checks and offering health education to patients. While the duties may not be fixed, you can be sure to have a lot of rewarding contact with your patients.
Because the role of a Healthcare Assistant can be quite a varied one, you are likely to receive quite a range of on the job training from employer once you start. This can include clinical hygiene, health and safety, how to take vital statistics, such as heart rates, pulse, breathing and temperature and how to move lift and move patients safely amongst others. With the help of a relevant Level 3 Diploma, which can often be done on the job, there is potential to progress on to more senior roles such as an Assistant Practitioner or to begin more specialized training to become a Nurse, Midwife or Radiographer.