Healthcare Assistants (HCA) sometimes known as Healthcare Support Workers (HCSW). Both terms describe non-registered clinical staff who assist in patient care and related activities under the supervision of a Registered Healthcare Professional such as a Practice Nurse or Allied Health Professional (AHP).
HCSW and HCAs work across the whole life course from birth to end of life, supporting registered nurses in the delivery of nursing care.
The HCA/HCSW role is often the first step onto a career ladder that can open up opportunities to train into registered roles either within the GP surgery or the PCN.
- New patient and NHS health checks
- Supporting Public Health / Prevention Programmes
- Carrying out base line observations such as Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Respiratory rate
- On-going monitoring of chronic conditions and INR monitoring
- Assist in long term condition reviews under Registered Nurses direct/indirect supervision.
- Deliver health promotion or health education advice.
- Simple wound care and dressings
- Adult immunisations (with additional training) – influenza, pneumonia, shingles
- Administering injections
HCSWs / HCAs are not registered with a professional body and the employer is accountable for their actions and omissions. It is vital that employers make sure that HCSW/HACs work within the limits of their competence.
Although there are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA or HCSW, recommended training requirements include –
- Basic training which includes fundamental nursing skills appropriate to employment setting
- Working towards Care Certificate which has been jointly developed by Skills for Care, Skills for Health and Health Education England to meet the 15 standards required by the Care Quality Commission as set out in the Care Certificate.
- The Care Certificate is aimed at equipping health and social care support workers with the knowledge and skills which they need to provide safe and compassionate care. It can be done as part of a Level 2 or Level 3 Health and Social Care Programme (Apprenticeship) or as part of a robust induction when starting your career in Health and Social Care. It is free to access through: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/care-certificate/
Additional modules may also be completed depending on local needs i.e. integrated care working.
- Statutory and Mandatory Skills – The UK core skills training framework has been developed by Skills for Health (National Skills Academy). This tool identifies minimum learning outcomes for the main subjects that frequently feature within statutory and mandatory training in the NHS.
It is possible for HCAs to develop their career as an assistant practitioner, nursing associate and progressing to becoming a registered nurse. Further information about this pathway can be found on the Royal College of Nursing website –
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