Beginner’s guide to becoming a Healthcare Assistant

Healthcare assistants have a dynamic role that changes on a day-to-day basis, and if caring for vulnerable people makes you feel good, it will be an extremely rewarding career.

If you have ever thought about becoming a healthcare assistant (HCA) and want to find out if it is for you, please read on for our beginner’s guide.

Job description:

It is a hands on job, and you will be an important part of any medical team. A healthcare assistant typically works in all areas of healthcare, supporting doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. They may work in hospitals, GP surgeries or care homes.

Duties include emotional and physical care for patients, and a variety of tasks from:

  • Helping patients wash and get dressed
  • Helping to feed the patient and put them at ease
  • Making beds
  • Taking blood
  • Dressing and cleaning wounds
  • Monitoring the condition of the patient such as temperatures and blood pressure
  • Sterilising medical equipment
  • Managing medical supplies
  • Communicating with relatives
  • Updating medical professionals about the patient’s progress

Skills required:

The ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds and remain calm in tough situations are a must, but what other attributes should a healthcare assistant candidate possess?

  • Good listener
  • Organised
  • Proactive
  • Can follow instructions accurately
  • Act with discretion and trust
  • Caring and sensitive nature
  • Kindness and respect
  • Approachable

How to get started:

Desirably, a candidate would have the following entry requirements:

  • GCSE’s in English and Maths in Grades 9-4 (A*-C)
  • A healthcare qualification
  • Paid or unpaid experience in health or social care

You could get started by doing one or more of the following:

  • Volunteer – volunteering at local care homes around your area shows passion and integrity and the invaluable first-hand experience will give you an edge in a HCA interview.
  • Apprenticeship – an apprenticeship can help you combine practical training with studying and gives you the chance to work in the career you want to straight away. Many apprenticeships also end up with the apprentice being offered a role in the establishment.
  • Home care – this is a similar environment to that of a healthcare assistant, and as many home care positions require no previous experience and training is provided, it can provide experience that makes you appear more attractive to HCA employers.
  • Courses – applying for a HCA role with the relevant qualifications is certainly going to boost your chances, and there are plenty of online courses available for people to study in their spare time.

Progression opportunities:

Working as a HCA can open doors, and as you become more experienced there are several routes you could take if you wish to develop your career. You could become:

  • Senior HCA providing training for new HCA’s
  • Assistant Practitioner
  • Social Worker of Support Worker
  • A healthcare professional such as: Nurse, Midwife, Radiographer or Podiatrist.

If you thrive from interacting with people from all walks of life, with a desire to help and provide for those in need, becoming a healthcare assistant could be the making of you.

Integra Healthcare are happy to assist you with any further questions you may have. To find out more about healthcare assistant roles in your area or for a confidential conversation about your career, please contact a friendly member of the healthcare team on 01925 839 820 or email

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