• 28 October 2020
  • 11 min read

Q&A With A Healthcare Assistant

  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Leila Sheikh seliman
  • 1
  • 2008
Play video: "You're generally there to support people in whatever they need."

Former Healthcare Assistant, Laura, answers some of your questions about becoming a HCA and summarises the responsibilities of the role, as well as what qualifications you need.

Topics covered in this article

0.00 Introduction

0.31 What Is A Healthcare Assistant?

2.36 How Much Do Healthcare Assistants Get Paid?

3.50 How Old Do You Have To Work As A Healthcare Assistant?

4.29 What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Healthcare Assistant?

5.24 Where Can I Find A Job As A Healthcare Assistant?

7.40 How Long Will It Take To Settle In To The Role?

8.47 Are Staff Forgiving If You Make A Mistake?

10.04 What Are The Responsibilities Of A Healthcare Assistant?

12.10 If You Have Any More Questions, Let Me Know Below

0.00 Introduction

Hello, everybody and welcome to today's video.

Today's video is a Q and A.

I posted some videos about being a HCA on my channel, and I've had thousands of people asking me so many questions that I just thought, "You know what? I'm just going to put them all in one place".

So let's get started.

0.31 What Is A Healthcare Assistant?

Question number one is, what is a HCA?

What does that mean?

And also what does it mean to be a bank HCA?

So HCA stands for Health Care Assistant.

They are basically the people that do the dirty work for Nurses.

So they clean people and they feed people and they help people walk around.

They do all the jobs that a nurse probably used to do, but they don't have time to do anymore.

So that's where a HCA comes in.

A bank HCA is basically there is, in pretty much every single hospital, a part of the hospital called bank staff.

And you'll get bank Nurses, bank HCAs.

You get locum people as well.

But what it means to be a bank HCA is it means that you're effectively still employed by the hospital, but you're in a reserve almost.

So each ward has its own number of staff.

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And for whatever reason, if the ward doesn't have enough staff to cover a shift, they put it out to the bank staff and the bank staff then can take that shift and cover it for them.

So you can work across loads of wards in the hospital and you're still employed by the hospital, but you're not quite restricted in the same way.

There are a couple of things that come with that, meaning pay is slightly higher, but you don't get things like sick pay or holiday pay.

That's not a thing.

It also therefore means that you can sometimes, and I manage to tend to stick to a couple of wards and just be able to book shifts on those wards, but it can mean you end up having to book shifts on lots of different wards, which means lots of different unfamiliar places, lots of different unfamiliar people and routines and procedures.

So it's got its pros and cons, but it's very flexible and people like that.

And I liked it for that reason.

It meant that I could do my uni work, and then when I had some free time, I could go and work.

2.36 How Much Do Healthcare Assistants Get Paid?

Question number two.

What is the pay like?

Well the pay, as I've already mentioned on bank is slightly higher, but pay for a Healthcare Assistant depends on what Band you are.

You can be a Band 2, which is what I was, or you can be a Band 3.

Now that depends on if you're in London or not.

London is slightly higher for all NHS staff, just because it's London.

However, generally it's about I think 8 to 9 pound an hour.

I think I was paid about £9.80 being on bank per hour.

But if you want to know pay bands, Nurses.co.uk has an amazing Pay Hub where you can find out more specifically the actual numbers.

As I said, bank are paid slightly higher, but the whole sort of pay band thing goes up from a two, three, four, then a nurse is a five and you get six, seven.

And then I think seven's management, eight matron.

It gets very complicated up there, but yeah.

So you're generally a Band 2.

Band 3 means you can do things like insert cannulas and stuff.

So you're a bit more qualified.

3.50 How Old Do You Have To Work As A Healthcare Assistant?

Question number three is, can you be any age?

Well you can, yes, but generally you want to be over 18.

I think you have to be 18.

So over 18, you can be any age.

There are people that I've seen that are working at 65, 70.

But I've genuinely seen that the older you are, like 60 to 70, 80.

I don't think I've ever met an 80-year-old, but 60s, 70s, it's harder for them than it is a 20 year old because they're just a bit older and it's a bit more hard work and effort.

But yeah, you can be any age.

4.29 What Qualifications Do You Need To Become A Healthcare Assistant?

Question number four is, what qualifications do you need?

Well, that changes regarding different types of jobs.

So if you're bank, you'll need different qualifications to if you're just employed by a ward.

But generally you need some work experience of some form.

You need five GCSEs A* to C.

I think that's what? A 9 to 4?

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You need to be able to speak English and sometimes they make people that are from abroad pass an English test.

You obviously also need to be able to write and read English, but generally other than that, there isn't really any qualifications that you desperately need, but each job description will have what it is that it wants and requires.

And so you can just look on there.

5.24 Where Can I Find A Job As A Healthcare Assistant?

Question number five is, where can I find a job?

Where do I look?

Where do I go?

Healthjobs.co.uk specialise in being independent and therefore show up all types of jobs, both NHS and private.

You can type in your keywords.

So that might be the nurse or anything specifically you're looking for, and your location.

You can be as specific as you want.

And it comes up with the list.

As I said, it comes up with all different types of jobs.

You can be a bit more specific in what you want to write.

So Staff Nurse or HCA Healthcare Assistant.

And again, it comes up with all the different jobs which were available at the time of filming.

You can specify in the mile radius.

So you could put a location and say only five mile radius.

You can also specify where.

You can specify whether you want it to be a new qualified or a management position.

What type of contract do you want it to be permanent, temporary or bank, and how much money you'd like to earn per hour or per year.

If you find it helpful, you can also look at through sector.

So there's obviously dental and doctor jobs on there as well, but anything that you would expect.

Nursing, OT, Physios, Psychology.

You'd look through healthcare jobs in that specific sector.

And then you can specify through area.

So if you want to stay in an area, but you don't really want stay in a specific place, then you can specify by area of the country too, which is really helpful.

View the current Healthcare Assistant roles here.

7.40 How Long Will It Take To Settle In To The Role?

Question seven is, how long does it take to settle in?

Again, this really depends.

If you are a lively, bubbly, outgoing person, chances are people might warm to you a bit easier.

So it does depend on your personality.

Again, it also depends on your self-esteem, your confidence, and whether you're new to it or not.

I was brand new to the position and that's why I chose to try and stick to specific wards.

It obviously means that if you are going to lots of different wards on bank, then you might not settle in, in the same way.

You might just get used to that.

But generally, I mean, everybody's NHS.

They're all there to care for people.

So I've never come across a bad person who will not help you and will not be willing to definitely look out for you, especially if it's your first or second shift.

For me personally, it took a couple of shifts to settle in and then I was fine.

And anytime I went to a new ward, again, I was quite nervous on that first ward on the first shift.

But after that, again, I was fine.

8.47 Are Staff Forgiving If You Make A Mistake?

Question number eight is, are staff forgiving if you make a mistake?

Now this depends on the mistake that you do, but generally, if you're new to the job, you shouldn't be doing things that would make you have a massive mistake.

There are things...

This is kind of life or death, but generally mistakes like, "Whoops, I forgot to change the bedsheets."

Or, "Whoops, I forgot to give that person a drink when I was giving drinks out to everybody."

They are really not that bad.

And the staff will support you.

So the chances of you making mistakes in your first couple of shifts are unlikely, because normally you'll be with someone.

It's after you've been in there for a couple of years and you make a mistake that could be harmful to someone, then it would possibly be a bit more of a talking to your line manager situation.

But generally, I've never seen anything like that, that meant that you were fired or whatever.

People are generally there to help you do your job.

And people want to support you to do your job.

So I've never really experienced a situation that bad.

10.04 What Are The Responsibilities Of A Healthcare Assistant?

Question number nine, which is our final question is the only kind of the last question that people kept asking me regularly was, what responsibilities do I have as a Healthcare Assistant?

So what kind of things am I going to be doing?

You're going to be doing changing bedsheets, cleaning patients, helping them get to the toilets, maybe feeding them, handing out meals, possibly taking blood pressures if you've had the training, taking temperatures if you've had the training.

You're generally there to support people in whatever they need.

If they've dropped something on the floor, you might be having to pick that up for them.

There's just loads of things.

The most common things are taking people to the toilet, washing them, changing bed sheets and feeding them.

You might also be doing what's called a one-to-one.

If you have a patient who's high risk of falling or a patient who has dementia and they are struggling in their environment to understand, then you might end up one-to-one-ing them.

So basically being with that person all day, giving them some space when they need it, but actually being quite close to them if they want to walk somewhere or potentially even making sure they don't abscond from the ward.

So basically leave the ward, especially with someone that has dementia.

That could be really... Well it's not good for them, let's just put it that way.

So you're generally there to just do whatever's required and that can also sometimes be quite cool.

You can take people down to X-ray or to theater.

You can take people down to the coffee shop sometimes if they're well enough to go.

You can watch nurses do procedures and you're there to just help.

The more qualified you, then maybe the more things you're doing, like putting a cannula in, which is a needle that goes into your arm with a little plastic tube, so you can have medication put through that.

Some people are there to help change dressings and everything, but generally that will be with a nurse because a nurse has to do that.

And so you're there just basically to look out for that patient.

12.10 If You Have Any More Questions, Let Me Know Below

That is all the questions that I have at least seen.

There may be others and if you have other questions, then just comment them down below, always ask.

I'm always here to try and help.

And if I can't answer them, then I will try my best to find an appropriate answer or guide you to the right place.

But if you have any type of question at all, just comment down below.

Thank you so much for watching this video and I will see you guys in the next one.


Let me know in the comments your thoughts on working as a Healthcare Assistant and if you have any more questions - let's chat there!

Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!

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  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist

About the author

  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist

Laura worked as a Healthcare Assistant for the NHS before training and finding employment as an Occupational Therapist.

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    • Leila Sheikh seliman one year ago
      Leila Sheikh seliman
    • Leila Sheikh seliman
      one year ago

      THanks Laura that very helpful .