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Healthcare assistant Support worker, nursing assistant, nursing auxiliary

Healthcare assistants help look after patients in hospitals or in patients’ own homes.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £20,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

When you're looking for work, you'll find it useful to have:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths
  • a qualification in health care
  • some paid or unpaid experience in health or social care

You could get into this role through an apprenticeship.

You may need a background check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • written and spoken communication skills
  • the ability to relate to people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • the ability to handle patients with sensitivity and respect
  • observational skills

3. What you'll do

You could work in the NHS, at a private hospital or nursing home, or in the community.

The work you do will be part of an agreed programme of care, and you'll be supervised by nurses. 

Your day-to-day tasks could include:

  • helping patients shower and get dressed
  • helping people eat
  • making beds
  • using equipment to lift and move patients
  • talking to patients and reassuring them
  • helping patients to the toilet
  • tidying the ward or patients’ homes
  • taking patients' temperature or pulse
  • attending meetings with other healthcare professionals

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £20,000

You may earn extra for working unsocial hours, like nights, weekends and bank holidays.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work around 37 hours a week in shifts, including nights, bank holidays and weekends.

If you work in the community, you'll travel between patients’ homes.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could train new healthcare assistants.

With training, you could become an assistant practitioner in chiropody or podiatry, occupational therapy, radiography or physiotherapy.

You could also apply to train as a nurse, radiographer, dietitian, midwife or social worker.

Health Careers has information about careers in all areas of health.

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Last updated: 13 September 2017