Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) and Assistant Practitioners (APs) are a vital part of the nursing team. They can be found working in all sorts of settings, including hospitals, doctors' surgeries and the community.
Our ‘health practitioner’ members work across every healthcare discipline, including the criminal justice system, mental health and learning disability. They work with infants, children and young people and in the care of the older person, supporting registered nurses in the delivery of nursing care.
To carry out your role as a health care assistant safely, you must be properly trained and supervised, and your employer has a duty to make sure you are appropriately trained and that you are assessed as competent for your role. Take a look at our training section to see if you have received all the training you could have. Your employers must provide an induction for you so that you have the knowledge, skills and understanding to do your role in a compassionate and caring way, wherever you work. Each UK country has its own guidance and standards for induction. Our online learning resource First Steps for HCAs is a perfect supplement to your induction programme and can help you to build on your knowledge and understanding on a range of important issues.
Become an HCA
There are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA. You simply need to be passionate about working with people and be caring and compassionate to apply for a job as one. Once you have been accepted, your employer will provide the training you need. You should consider getting work experience before you apply so you'll know what it’s like to work in health care. You may find it helpful to look at First Steps for Healthcare Assistants for background information.
Training on the job
Your training will vary depending on where you work. That's because the knowledge and skills needed to work in a GP surgery, for example, are different from those required to work in a residential home or in a mental health setting. Some employers have internal training departments while others use further education colleges or offer apprenticeships, but you must be trained for the role you will perform. Find out more on the RCN Careers webpages and the NHS Careers website.