Healthcare assistants

Healthcare assistants (HCAs) are a vital part of the team that supports the medical staff and patients in wards and departments throughout the hospital.

Under the supervision and direction of qualified nursing staff, healthcare assistants carry out a wide range of duties to care for, support, and provide information to patients and their families.

Responsibilities may include:

  • looking after the physical comfort of patients, for example helping them to wash themselves and emptying bedpans

  • keeping departments clean and tidy, for example cleaning equipment and making and changing beds

  • taking and recording basic observations such as blood pressure and temperature

  • helping patients to eat and to move about, if they have mobility problems

  • listening and talking to patients.

Healthcare assistants are often the first point of contact for a patient, so you'll need to be friendly and confident, with good interpersonal skills. You'll need to be able to put patients at their ease, helping them with their personal care while making sure they feel comfortable.

Previous experience in healthcare is desirable but not usually essential, as healthcare assistants are assessed individually to see what tasks they are competent to carry out. Training and development is available for those who want to progress - a role as a healthcare assistant can be the first step to becoming a nursing associate or a qualified nurse.

Find out more about working as a healthcare assistant from the NHS Health Careers website and see all our current vacancies.