Exploring A Career As A Health Care Assistant

January 6, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Health care assistants are also often referred to as clinical support workers, health care support workers or nursing assistants. Health care assistants or HCAs usually work under the direction and supervision of qualified healthcare professionals. Their job functions and roles can be varied and diverse, depending on the type of workplace as well as the specific work setting. 

Gap Medics student Asiya shadowing nurses in the neonatal department at Maharaj Hospital in Thailand Health care assistants have earned the well-deserved reputation as the core of the nursing profession, delivering hands-on care in almost every conceivable setting. In most cases, they are usually the professionals who deliver the major portion of practical nursing care performing duties such as helping patients with washing, dressing and toileting and taking care of their daily nutritional needs and comforts.

HCAs work in hospitals, hospices, nursing and residential homes, GP surgeries, community settings, prisons amongst others. They are trained to cover almost all specialties from children and young peoples’ services to mental health and learning disabilities.

Training requirements

Till date, there are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA in the UK. However, some employers require and look for literacy and numeracy skills. Having the combination of necessary skills can give you the competitive edge and increase your employability tremendously.

Once you have been accepted as a health care assistant, your employer will take on the responsibility of training you to be proficient in the skills necessary for your job. The kind of training you receive will vary considerably from one place to another depending on where exactly you will be working. For instance, the knowledge and skills necessary for an HCA working in a residential home will be quite different from those required by an HCA working in a GP surgery.

To prepare yourself for your role, it is a good idea to undergo an all-inclusive induction training programme where you will receive instruction in varied subjects. Another benefit of an induction programme is that it gives you the feel for the role and a better understanding of some of the key topics involved, such as confidentiality and communication skills.

Several further education colleges conduct courses in health and social care. You would start at level two and later progress to level three courses. It is crucial that your training prepares you for the roles that you will be undertaking and that your skill and proficiency are assessed before you undertake any new roles in the workplace.


Another route could be to contact your local NHS Trust or visit the main hospital and find out if they are running any Apprenticeships in Health. Becoming an apprentice offers you several benefits. It allows you to earn while you learn, as you would be undergoing training even as you are gaining experience in the workplace.