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Information for HCAs APs and TNAs 2

UK wide information for Nursing Support Workers

The RCN supports learning and development for all Nursing Support Workers which include Health Care Assistants (HCAs), Assistant Practitioners (APs) and a myriad of roles across all four UK countries and provides representation wherever nursing takes place.

UK codes, standards and country specific information


In England the Care Certificate was implemented from 1 April 2015. Employers are expected to help new support workers achieve the standards in the certificate within around 12 weeks of starting employment. For more information visit Health Education England.

You may find the following links useful:

First Steps for HCAs is an online resource, which will support your career development. It covers a range of topics, including promoting person centred care, clinical skills and equality and diversity. You can use First Steps to learn at your own pace, within your workplace induction programme, or as a refresher tool to support your practice.

Northern Ireland

In 2018, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland introduced the title of nursing assistant, in recognition of the role of support staff within the overall nursing workforce.
The title replaced the health care assistant title for all those working in nursing teams, who undertake delegated aspects of nursing care and are supervised by a registered nurse. Those in band 3 roles are known as senior nursing assistants “in recognition of their wider skill set”.

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland produced a suite of resources for nursing assistants employed by trusts in Northern Ireland. They include standards for nursing assistants and an induction and development pathway. These resources are all available via the Department of Health.

In Northern Ireland, health and social care services are integrated. The Northern Ireland Social Care Council regulates all social care assistants, including care assistants working in nursing homes. Whilst care assistants working in nursing homes are part of the nursing team and are supervised by a registered nurse, they are regulated by and must meet the Northern Ireland Social Care Standards.

Visit the Northern Ireland Social Care Council website for more information.

See also: RCN Northern Ireland


RCN Scotland’s We Care campaign shines a light on the outstanding contribution of nursing support workers (NSWs) in nursing. As part of this work, we have a range of learning resources for NSWs, including a programme of live webinars on a range of topics and a brand new series of bite-sized videos.

For more information on our webinars and bite-size videos, please visit the We Care campaign.

NHS Education for Scotland has developed the health care support workers toolkit. This includes the Scottish government's mandatory induction standards for health care support workers, a code of conduct for support workers and a code of practice for employers in Scotland.

There are separate sets of codes relating to conduct and practice in the independent sector. For more information please visit the Scottish Social Services Council website.

See also: RCN Scotland


Nursing Support Workers in Wales are generally called Health Care Support Workers, Health Care Assistants or Assistant Practitioners.

In 2011, the Welsh Government, the National Leadership Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH) at that time (now Health Education Improvement Wales (HEIW)) with stakeholders developed a code of conduct for Healthcare support workers in Wales. The Code supports the basic principles of service user safety and public protection and continue to underpin the day to day working practices of Healthcare Support Workers in NHS Wales. On the HEIW website you will find Developing Excellence in Healthcare: An NHS Wales Skills and Career Framework for Healthcare Support Workers supporting Nursing And Allied Health Professionals (2015). This provides a national guidance to evidence the skills required to progress your career as a Health Care Support Worker. 

Another useful resource is the HEIW website.

At RCN Wales you can attend one of our many learning and engagement events taking place across Wales.

RCN Wales contact: Michelle Moseley Education and Lifelong Learning Adviser 

See also: RCN Wales

RCN work on regulation

The RCN has published various policy papers setting out its position on regulation. You can use these to find more information on the perceived benefits of regulating HCAs.

See: Registered Nurses and Health Care Support Workers: A summary of RCN policy positions.

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