Support worker, nursing assistant, nursing auxiliary
Healthcare assistants look after patients in hospitals or in patients’ own homes.
Salary range: £15,000 to £20,000
How to become a healthcare assistant
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You could do a college course, which may help you when looking for work. Courses include:
- Level 2 Certificate in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care
- Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care
- Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care
Most health and social care courses include work placements, which is a good way to get experience.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship as a healthcare support worker.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
You could work as a trainee care assistant in a residential or care home, and do qualifications on the job.
Volunteering and experience
You’ll find it useful to get some paid or voluntary experience in a healthcare setting or personal care role. This will help when you apply for jobs.
You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for advice about opportunities.
Professional and industry bodies
You may find it useful to join the Royal College of Nursing, for professional development and training opportunities.
You can find out more about becoming a healthcare assistant from Health Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to work well with your hands
- excellent verbal communication skills
- customer service skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
In this role you could be:
- helping patients shower and get dressed
- helping people eat
- making beds
- using equipment to lift and move patients
- talking to patients and reassuring them
- helping patients to the toilet
- tidying the ward or patients’ homes
- taking patients’ temperature or pulse
- attending meetings with other healthcare professionals
You could work in an NHS or private hospital, at a client’s home, at an adult care home or at a hospice.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
With experience you could train new healthcare assistants.
With training, you could become an assistant practitioner in chiropody or podiatry, occupational therapy, radiography or physiotherapy.
You could also apply to train as a nurse, radiographer, dietitian, midwife or social worker.
Health Careers has information about careers in all areas of health.
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