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Career profile: Healthcare assistant

Career profile: Healthcare assistantGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Healthcare assistants can work within hospital or community settings under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. The role can be very varied depending upon the area in which the person is employed.

On the job

Healthcare assistants who work with nurses, may sometimes be known as nursing auxiliaries or auxiliary nurses. They may also work alongside qualified midwives in maternity services, as clinical support workers or with healthcare scientists such as audiologists, helping them to investigate and treat disease.

The duties of a healthcare assistant generally involves supporting a patient to ensure their basic needs are met whilst at hospital. This might mean the assistant will need to wash and dress the patient, feed them and help them get around if necessary as well as monitor the patient’s conditions by checking the temperature, pulse, respiration and weight.

Nursing healthcare assistants usually work a 37.5-hour week on a shift or rota system, probably including nights and weekends. Part-time and flexi-working is often available.

Assistants in healthcare science work normal office hours or shifts, including evenings and weekends, depending on their particular role and specialism. Part-time and flexi-working is often available here too.

Clinical support workers (sometimes known as therapy assistants or therapy helpers) work alongside allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, radiographers, podiatrists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and occupational therapists.

Depending upon the form of therapy, clinical support workers help prepare patients for treatment, set up the necessary equipment and assist the therapist in carrying out the treatment.

Course entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the NVQ courses relevant to working as a healthcare assistant.

What does the training involve?

Healthcare assistants and auxiliary nurses may have the opportunity to obtain an NVQ qualification in Care up to Level 3.

Often, obtaining NVQ Level 2 will lead to the person having more responsibility in terms of the role they are fulfilling.

An NVQ Level 3 will meet the minimum entry requirements for entry into nurse training.

(Information taken from NHS Careers)