Health Care Assistant – HCA

Hospital, Health Centre, GP Practice

As a healthcare assistant (HCA), you will work under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, usually a nurse. Sometimes staff working in HCA roles are known as nursing assistants, nursing auxiliaries or auxiliary nurses.

The role will vary depending on where you are working.

In a hospital for example you will assist with

  • washing and dressing patients
  • serving meals and helping to feed patients
  • helping people to move around
  • toileting
  • making beds
  • talking to patients and making them comfortable
  • monitoring patients' conditions by taking temperatures, pulse, respirations and weight

In a health centres and GP surgery you may be required to

  • sterilise equipment
  • do health checks
  • restock consulting rooms
  • process lab samples
  • take blood samples
  • do health promotion or health education work


HCAs also work with doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals and have a lot of contact with patients.

As a healthcare assistant,we expect good literacy and numeracy skills and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths. Some clients may ask for a healthcare qualification, such as BTEC or NVQ.

Most clients expect you to have some experience of healthcare or care work. This could be from paid or voluntary work. There are sometimes apprenticeships in healthcare that can give you experience to apply for HCA posts.

To be a healthcare assistant, you will need to be

  • caring and kind
  • cheerful and friendly
  • willing to be hands-on with patients
  • willing to do personal care tasks (washing, toileting, etc)
  • able to follow instructions and procedures
  • able to work in a team but use their own initiative
  • communication skills, including listening
  • organisation skills
  • observational skills