Nurse Career: What is the job of a health care assistant?

Healthcare facilities across the world are looking for Health Care Assistants (HCAs) now more than ever. They are invaluable when it comes to patient care and medical staff assistance in hospitals every day.

What do Healthcare Assistants Do?

Health care assistants, also known as Helping Nurses (in the US) or Auxiliary Nurses (in the UK) or Health Assistants, nursing assistants, or support workers are an important part of healthcare team. They assist qualified medical staff and patients in wards and departments throughout hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, communities, or someone's own home. HCAs collaborate with healthcare professionals and nursing staff to perform a variety of roles depending on the situation and location in which they work. A health care assistant's job requires a great deal of care, warmth, and compassion to care for and support people who are ill, vulnerable, or in need of a support. They are an important part of medical team because they provide direct care, comfort, and safety to patients and assist other health workers when necessary.

What else does the role entail?

Primarily the role of a HCA is providing care, comfort, and safety to patients. These roles, however, may vary depending on the situation, as not all patients will have the same needs, so flexibility and ability to adapt quickly will go a long way if you consider this career path.

Here are some things an HCA do:

  • Helping patients to move around if they find it difficult.
    If a patient has trouble with mobility, Health Care Assistants help them move around safely.
  • Serving food or feeding.
    HCA feeds patients at mealtimes if patients have difficulties with eating.
  • Communication with patients, relatives, and other caretakers.
    One important quality of an HCA is his/her ability to communicate with their patients. Sometimes patients need to prepare mentally for a therapy session or a procedure, and this is where HCA's exceptional communication skills are priceless. HCA can help patients deal with anxiety and stress. Sometimes they also may assist the therapist during the actual treatment.
  • Making and changing beds, giving out bedpans, and collecting bedpans.
  • Turning patients who are bed-bound to avoid pressure sores.
  • Helping patients with washing, showering, or dressing
    HCAs also help patients with mobility issues with dressing up, getting to the toilet, cleaning up, and other every-day tasks. HCA make sure the patient is clean and they keep their bed and surroundings clean.
  • Making sure the ward or patients' home is tidy.
    HCAs may be assigned to live with patients at their home. It is part of HCA's duties to check up on patients regularly, assess their health condition, take temperature and other necessary measures, and keep accurate records of patient's health. When living with a patient, HCA help tidy up the home if the patients cannot do so themselves.
  • Setting up equipment required by Healthcare Professionals.
  • Taking and recording patient observations such as temperature, pulse, and breathing for Assistants working in hospitals, taking and delivering blood samples is a regular responsibility.
  • Promoting positive mental/physical/nutritional health with patients.

Entry requirements

It is relatively easy to meet the entry requirements for becoming an HCA. There are no specific academic requirements for becoming an HCA and can be a good start if you are considering Registered Nurse career path, as you could study for qualifications through apprenticeships. Some employers may require their employees to have a basic education. Having experience in a health-related industry may improve your chances of becoming a qualified healthcare worker and accordingly earning more. Other requirements include a clean background check and passing a medical exam. Communication and listening skills are extremely helpful.

Work hours, pay and benefits

The pay scale of HCA jobs may vary depending on the country and even healthcare facility you work in. The information we provide here is just to give you an idea about what to expect. Always discuss all details and pay with your employer before signing contacts to avoid any misunderstandings and disappointments. Every country has its own pay scale system, depending on qualifications, experience, and many other factors.

For example, in the UK working week would be around 37.5 hours per week with salary anywhere between 18,000 and 21,000 GBP per year, which includes access to pension scheme, paid annual leave and health service discounts. Your work week may include a mix of shifts - nights, early mornings, evenings, and weekends. UK follows Agenda for Change (AFC) pay system with healthcare assistants typically starting on band 2. In Germany it would be between 27.000 and 30.000 EUR gross per year.

As we stated earlier, conditions of work will differ depending on the location and situation under which one is working.

HCA skillset required

HCA primary responsibility is to keep their patient as healthy, comfortable, and safe as possible. While special academic skills are often not required to become a Health Care Assistant, there are skills that are crucial to do the job right. Here are some of the skills that will help:

  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Being a good team player
  • The desire to work with all people, irrespective of background, race, or creed
  • Excellent communication skills are crucial
  • Good listening skills
  • Physically able to lift patients
  • A tactful, approachable, and friendly personality

HCAs are likely to encounter situations where patients suffer from a terminal illness. Excellent are crucial! Patients also may suffer from illnesses associated with stigma; the HCA assisting these patients must always keep these conditions confidential.

What role can I move on to after being an HCA?

After a while of gathering experience as an HCA, there are some wonderful opportunities one can grab onto to become a more specialized member of the health team.

  • You can join a college as a health practitioner member.
    Some HCAs join colleges to update their skills. It is very useful for people who would like to pursue a professional career in healthcare.
  • HCA's can go on and get foundation degrees.
    Experienced HCAs can receive secondment from their employers to enable enroll for degrees in health fields to enable them to climb the ladder in the healthcare field.
  • Various further qualification options through apprenticeships.

Empathy and communication skills of HCA all play a key role in the patient's treatment, as well as every-day life and reputation of the hospital. Are you interested in working as a Health Care Assistant in Europe? Register here[link] now and open new opportunities!

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