What Does A Healthcare Assistant Do?

Healthcare assistants (HCA) are everyday heroes with demanding jobs. Healthcare assistants typically work to provide a helping hand to healthcare professionals, such as nurses, doctors, or midwives. They assist or perform additional duties such as communicating with patients and putting them at ease before an operation, procedure, or tests.

HCAs can either work on a full-time or part-time basis. Their responsibilities can vary depending on the setting. A healthcare assistant working in a standard hospital setting may be expected to do the following:

  • Serve meals to patients and/or helping them eat when needed
  • Bath/wash/dress patients
  • Communicate with patients and help keep them comfortable
  • Take patients’ vital information such as temperature, weight, and pulse

Moreover, healthcare assistants working in GP surgery may be expected to do the following:

  • Take blood samples
  • Do health checks
  • Process lab samples

What Qualifications Do I Need?

Good Healthcare Assistant Qualities

Unlike most positions in the healthcare profession, there is no requirement of any standard undergraduate or postgraduate degree to become a healthcare assistant. However, to be able to work as a healthcare assistant in Ireland, candidates must be studying towards a nursing degree or have an appropriate Level 5 QQI qualification.

Our QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Course provides students both the practical and theoretical competence needed to stand out when applying for healthcare assisting jobs.

In addition, employers normally prefer candidates with similar or equivalent work experience. Therefore, it is recommended that candidates take up voluntary work prior to applying to the positions. Our course incorporates 240 hours of work placement, which prepares them better when seeking employment afterwards.


What Are The Qualities Of A Good Healthcare Assistant?

The work of a healthcare assistant is demanding yet very rewarding. A strong liking and passion to help others is a must. An important characteristic of good healthcare assistants is the ability to empathise with those in their care. Additionally, they should be strong enough to keep themselves together while handling distressing situations. Unpleasant tasks or situations may arise and must be carried mindfully with the dignity of the person in their care.        

As their responsibility includes communicating and keeping patients at ease, good communication skills are vital. They must be good listeners, particularly in difficult, vulnerable, or emotional situations. A good sense of humour is also appreciated to help cheer up those within their care or lighten the mood as appropriate.

Healthcare assistants must have sharp observational skills. Being in charge of the patients’ wellbeing, they are required to always be on the lookout for changes in wellbeing. In addition to emotional strength, assistants are also required to be physically fit. The job often requires heavy lifting and being on their feet for hours so physical endurance and stamina is a must-have.

Check out Bluebird Care’s infographic linked here on the important qualities needed in a good healthcare assistant.

Looking to take your first step in becoming a Healthcare Assistant? Check out our QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Course here. You can also give us a call at (01) 488 4300 or email us at [email protected] so we can help you start your career journey today.