Healthcare assistants provide care for patients across a range of settings including hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s surgeries.
Working under the supervision of qualified nursing staff, their role is to ensure patients are as comfortable as possible and are provided with sufficient medical care.
This detailed guide includes a full healthcare assistant job description and everything you need to know about the role including salaries, typical employers and opportunities for progression.
- Healthcare assistant job description
- How much do healthcare assistants earn?
- What does a healthcare assistant do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs healthcare assistants?
- Which junior jobs progress to healthcare assistant roles?
Healthcare assistant job description
Healthcare assistant |Eastlake Residential Home
About Eastlake Residential Home
Our aged care facility in Hertford provide exceptional care and support to 32 elderly residents. We have a range of en-suite rooms and common areas including an extensive garden with plenty of seating.
About the role
We are looking to hire a healthcare assistant to care for a small group of elderly patients within our residence. You will be responsible for their health and wellbeing, ensuring that their specific care needs are met, and that they are safe and happy at all times
- Helping to keep our patients clean and hygienic, for example helping them wash themselves and emptying bedpans
- Serving meals and helping to feed patients
- Improving mobility of patients, including helping them to move around their rooms or going for walks in the garden
- Chatting and listening to our patients, making them feel at ease
- Monitoring patients’ conditions including taking temperatures, pulse and respirations
- Ensuring patient rooms and communal areas are kept clean and tidy, including making and changing beds
- Promoting overall positive mental and physical health with patients through exercise and activities
- Liaising with patient families and medical specialists to raise concerns and gain extra support where needed
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full-time role working 37.5 hours per week
- Some night shifts required
- Located in our Hertford residential home
- Previous experience working in care with elderly patients
- GCSEs in Maths and English
- Clear background check CRB/DBS
- Good communication and listening skills
- Computer literacy
- NVQ Qualification in Health and Social Care
Contact us to apply
If you would like to continue your career in healthcare in a facility that prioritises patient independence and dignity, please send your CV and cover letter to our home manager Patricia Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
How much do healthcare assistants earn?
Healthcare assistants are paid an average of £24,449 which is slightly below the average salary for full time workers in the UK.
Healthcare assistant salaries in the UK
- Low: £18,579
- Average: £24,449
- High: £31,787
Healthcare assistant salaries will vary depending on;
- Type of employer – e.g. is it working for the NHS, which has a banded salary system based on skills and experience, or a private residential home?
- Type of care being provided – e.g. is it working in a palliative care setting providing hands-on care to elderly patients or is it more administrative support in a GP surgery?
- General salary factors – such as level of candidate experience and location
For example, an experienced healthcare assistant working for a private fertility clinic will likely earn a higher wage than a more junior healthcare assistant starting out at an NHS hospital on a Band 2 salary.
What does a healthcare assistant do?
Breaking down the job description jargon, here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that healthcare assistants will carry out in an average work week;
- Patient hygiene – Helping patients to stay clean by assisting with washes and toileting
- Mobility – Supporting patients in moving around their place of care
- Basic physio – Providing light exercises to enable patients to stay limber and active
- Food and diet – Assisting patients in choosing meals and supporting them in eating
- Basic medical checks – Observing and recording the condition of the patient by taking their pulse and temperature and checking their weight.
- Communicating with patients and their families – Organising appointments, explaining procedures and ensuring patients are calm and comfortable.
- General housekeeping – Making beds and collecting and emptying bedpans.
- Administrative duties – Processing lab samples, helping to make appointments and assisting with patient paperwork
- Managing stock – Monitoring and replenishing medical supplies and equipment.
What do healthcare assistants need?
Healthcare assistants need a range of personal and technical skills to be able to effectively carry out their roles.
Exact requirements will depend on each job, as well as the work setting and type of care being provided, but generally speaking here’s what’s needed.
Healthcare assistant jobs will ideally seek a candidate with some experience in healthcare but it’s not always essential. Quite often employers will look for personal traits such as organisational skills and compassion, and then look to provide training on the job.
Healthcare assistant skills
Some required skills will depend on the specialism and work setting where the care will be carried out, but the following is a list of the generic skills essential for healthcare assistants.
- Interpersonal skills: Liaising with a range of different people including medical staff, patients and family members
- Kindness and compassion: Carrying out daily tasks with the patient’s comfort at the forefront at all times
- Patience: Willingness to take time with patients and be empathetic to their needs
- Resilience: Being able to bounce back from difficult and unexpected patient interactions
- Prioritisation: Being able to multi-task and effectively manage a list of competing priorities
- Initiative: Working with little supervision and identifying tasks that will improve comfort levels for patients without being asked
- Healthcare system knowledge: Understanding of how the healthcare system works and patient care pathways
- Basic nursing duties: Ability to undertake basic medical checks such as taking a patient’s pulse, weight and respiration
- Specialist medical knowledge – Depending on the type of patients they are working with, healthcare assistants may require knowledge of certain health conditions, physiotherapy, mental health etc.
Healthcare assistant qualifications
Formal industry qualifications are not required to become a healthcare assistant. Many employers will look for good literacy and numeracy skills demonstrated with GCSEs in English and Maths. They may also prioritise a willingness to learn alongside a caring and compassionate nature.
Working as a healthcare assistant is a launching pad into the healthcare industry so there is plenty of opportunity to train on the job and take on further formal training to enhance future career opportunities.
Although not strictly a qualification, most healthcare staff will require a DBS/CRB check to ensure they do not have any previous criminal convictions that would make them unsuitable for working with vulnerable people
The Care Certificate is a set of standards for health and social care workers. Many healthcare settings will expect that healthcare assistants complete this training while they are working. The 15 standards include topics such as duty of care, equality and diversity and safeguarding.
NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
This qualification will take around 12 months to complete and upskills healthcare professionals in areas such as infection prevention and control, food safety and preparation and record maintenance. There are no formal entry requirements but students must be working or volunteering in a healthcare setting.
NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
The diploma is designed for healthcare professionals currently working in NHS or private facilities. It covers both core mandatory units and optional units where students can specialise in their chosen fields such as maternity support or mental health care.
What is expected of healthcare assistants?
Typically, healthcare assistants will be expected to commit the following;
- Full time hours – 37.5 hours per week on a shift-based roster
- Regular out of hours work – including nights, early starts, evenings and weekends
- Location – Based at a hospital or care facility
Healthcare assistant benefits
Healthcare assistants will quite often work within the public system so will have access to good benefits including:
- Up to 35 days annual leave
- Training and personal development
- Schemes such as season ticket loans and salary sacrifice
Who employs healthcare assistants?
Healthcare assistants are employed by a range of private and public organisations, where patients require support as part of their clinical journey. These could be public organisations such as hospitals who are caring for post-operation patients, or private nursing homes such as residential homes for the elderly.
Typical healthcare assistant employers include organisations such as:
- Residential care homes
- Mental health facilities
- Doctor’s surgeries
- Private clinics
- Private health and wellbeing companies
- Private families may also hire healthcare assistants to care for a patient living at home
Which junior jobs progress to healthcare assistant roles?
Healthcare assistants are entry-level positions and candidates will generally have just left school with GCSEs or A-levels. They may have volunteered in a healthcare setting previously or cared for someone as a care assistant in their family or home to gain some basic skills and an understanding of the role.
Which senior jobs do healthcare assistants progress to?
Healthcare assistant roles are a launching pad into a career in healthcare and a great opportunity to gain experience and exposure to a range of different specialities. Healthcare assistants will often progress to roles such as:
Assistant practitioners are experienced staff who work in specific areas of clinical practice alongside qualified healthcare professionals. They are not registered practitioners but are well-regarded for their level of skill and training in their field. They provide care to patients in areas such as respiratory medicine, occupational therapy or emergency medicine.
A nursing associate is a member of the nursing team who provides specialist care in one of four areas – adult, children, mental health and learning disability. They undertake some clinical duties and liaise with patients and their families. Candidates need to complete a Nursing Associate Foundation Degree to become a qualified nursing associate
Healthcare assistant job description – conclusion
Healthcare assistant is a rewarding career and suits a person who demonstrate kindness, compassion and a desire to help others.
It is also a fantastic platform for seeing how the healthcare industry operates and has many opportunities for progressing into a career in health.