A healthcare assistant is responsible for carrying out a variety of tasks in a hospital, clinic or care home. The assistant's job is to look after patients' basic needs, help doctors and nurses and ensure everything in the workplace operates in an efficient and effective manner.
Usually working under doctors, nurses or other supervisory personnel, healthcare assistants perform duties that constitute patient care. They include serving meals and drinks, talking to patients about treatment procedures and medications, and assisting in performing examinations. They also keep the ward clean and carry out ward equipment checks.
Administrative duties usually include scheduling appointments, answering the phone and dealing with emails. Administrative tasks more medically specific include filling out care sheets and maintaining medical records.
In some workplaces, healthcare assistants specialise in clinical or administrative tasks. Healthcare assistants specialise by the branch of medicine in the workplace. For example, ophthalmic assistants help ophthalmologists provide eye and vision care.
Education and certification
The minimum education requirement for healthcare assistants is GCSE or A level qualifications, because hospitals and healthcare providers offer on-the-job training combined with an NVQ qualification. Some further education colleges also offer NVQ healthcare assistant courses.
Salary and prospects
As of 2014, healthcare assistant starting salaries were typically £14,000 per year for a 30 to 40 hour working week. Healthcare assistants can earn more with experience and in private practice.