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What are the duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant?

A healthcare assistant offers emotional support to a senior in a wheelchair

Define the duties and responsibilities of healthcare assistants

A healthcare assistant (HCA) is an important part of the healthcare industry in the UK. They are in charge of nurturing patients and assisting them in overcoming any physical or mental health issues. Healthcare assistants assist doctors and nurses with their duties at the same time. Nurses Group is one of the leading nursing agency that provides qualified healthcare assistants throughout the UK, especially in Yeovil. 

A healthcare assistant's duties can be extremely varied depending on the person's care needs or the type of service they work in. If you enjoy providing both practical and emotional support and enjoy a varied work day, you should think about becoming a healthcare assistant. This article talks about what a healthcare assistant does, how much they get paid, and what qualifications they need. 

What are the duties of a healthcare assistant? 

In the UK, healthcare assistants do a wide range of tasks that help with planning and delivering care in hospitals and other facilities. The care duties carried out are typically tailored to the needs of the patient and in accordance with the individual care plan of each service user. When carrying out their duties, it is the responsibility of the care assistant to maintain dignity and respect for the service users and promote independence as much as possible. Let's see some of the duties of the healthcare assistant in the UK: 

1. Preparing meals and feeding patients

Healthcare assistants have to prepare meals for the patients and take care of their dietary needs. Sometimes they have to work alongside the dieticians for every patient and take care of their daily meals. In case a patient is not able to have their meals on their own, you need to assist them by feeding them. The healthcare assistants have to study the patient's diet charts and be extremely patient with clients. 

2. Moving and handling 

Your duties as a healthcare assistant also include ensuring that patients have comfortable bedding with the right mattress or pillows. Some disabled people, the elderly, and some patients who had undergone recent surgery might need assistance to get to the bathroom or bathe independently, and thus they would require assistance. 
Some patients even need assistance to go out for a walk. So, as a healthcare assistant, it is part of your duty to assist and support patients as and when they require it. You will be advised to do all these things by either a registered nurse, a doctor, or another qualified healthcare professional working above you. 

3. Companionship 

One of the main duties of a healthcare assistant is to provide companionship and make patients feel comfortable. Always remember that you are supporting vulnerable people, as some might be going through mental health issues or some might be fighting for their lives and trying to lead a normal and healthy life. In such situations, people might be emotionally vulnerable and might require a companion to be with them. 
Speaking to someone openly can help them feel better. So always try to put a smile on someone's face. A big part of recovery is just expressing their emotions and having someone beside them who will try to listen and understand. 

4. Frequent health checks 

This is one of the crucial duties of any healthcare professional. Maintaining the well-being of your patients on a regular basis is highly necessary, and thus, healthcare assistants have to maintain constant supervision during their shifts and maintain regular health checks. Some of the regular healthcare checks include: 
1. Monitoring body temperature 
2. Checking plus rates 
3. Checking weight and height 
4. Checking blood pressure and glucose level 
5. Checking the recovery of any cuts or stitches 

Moreover, frequent health checks help keep a patient healthy in many ways, as if any abnormalities are found, they can receive treatment immediately. 

5. Checking and ordering supplies 

Another of HCA's primary duties is to check the stock of hospital supplies. A hospital or a nursing home can run out of supplies at any time, and unlike any other industry, this one is way too sensitive. So, there shouldn't be any situation where they run out of supplies and face a shortage. 

So, it becomes necessary for someone to always stock up on supplies and monitor them to prevent such problems. A healthcare assistant's duties and responsibilities don't just include taking care of patients. They also include helping the hospital or nursing home get ready to take a patient and give them the right care. 

These are just some of the duties of a healthcare assistant. Their responsibilities and duties don't constrain them, as they have a wide spectrum to cover. 

Healthcare assistant qualifications 

Many care assistant positions require no formal qualifications to get started, but basic literacy and numeracy skills are essential for the role. In most cases, organisations prefer job seekers to have completed either a Level 2 Certificate in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care, a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care, or a Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care. Some applicants will also have completed an intermediate apprenticeship as healthcare support workers. Moreover, many hospitals and facilities provide in-house training or are willing to support enthusiastic candidates in achieving a qualification once they have started in the role. 

How is the pay rate for a healthcare assistant fixed? 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for healthcare assistants in the UK reached new heights. At one point, the demand was so high that there was a scarcity of healthcare assistants in the UK. This led to a drastic increase in the pay of healthcare assistants. The average salary for a healthcare assistant in the UK is between £18,000 and £22,000 a year, according to the latest industry statistics as of 2023. The average hourly rate for a UK healthcare assistant is approximately £12 per hour. However, based on experience, duties, location, and company, pay rates may vary. For example, in London, healthcare assistants get higher pay compared to those in suburban or regional areas. 

Nurses Group provides healthcare assistants that are highly equipped with skills and knowledge and who are able to handle simple and complex requirements of the patients. Moreover, to cope with any shortcoming, we provide training to fill the gap. Furthermore, our staff understands that their duties play a vital role in the healthcare industry. Visit our service page to learn more about what we offer. 

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