‘Delegation’, in this sense, is about a registered member of staff delegating an activity for you to complete. It’s something that you’ll find happens practically every day you work as a health care assistant and is the bedrock for service delivery in health care. But there are issues around delegation that we need to recognise to ensure the care given to patients/clients is safe. These issues affect both the registered member of staff who delegates the activity to you, and to you in accepting it.

The registered member of staff must:

  • be satisfied that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the activity safely and effectively – indeed, as safely and effectively as a registered member of staff would carry it out
  • ensure you’ve received the appropriate training to perform the activity
  • ensure that it is within your remit as a health care assistant
  • explain exactly what’s expected from you in performing the activity and make sure you understand
  • make sure you’re happy to perform the activity
  • make sure you’re supervised during the activity.

You must:

  • understand fully what it is that you are being asked to do and why
  • confirm that you have the skills, knowledge, experience and any relevant training to complete the activity
  • be happy to perform the activity as part of your normal role as a health care assistant
  • be confident that you’ll be properly supervised.

The registered member of staff remains professionally accountable for delegating the activity, but, if you accept it, you’ll be accountable for how well you perform it.

This is a key point, and it’s one that can give health care assistants problems. It can be hard to effectively refuse to carry out a delegated task, but you must refuse if you feel:

  • you don’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to carry it out safely
  • the activity is something that you haven’t done before or isn’t a part of your normal duties
  • the supervision provided is inadequate.

And remember, your refusal to do the activity doesn’t mean it won’t be done – it just means that it will be delegated to someone in the team with the right skills, knowledge and experience to carry it out safely.

But the vast majority of activities delegated to you as a health care assistant will be in line with your job description. Your duty is to carry them out as best you can, paying attention to:

  • getting consent from the patient/client to perform the activity
  • following the standard procedures and protocols for the activity
  • making sure that nothing you do, or don’t do, causes the patient/client harm
  • taking great care to complete the activity as safely and effectively as you can
  • raising any issues you’ve noted or which concern you about the patient/client with the registered nurse in charge or your manager or supervisor
  • recording what you’ve done in the right place(s).

Listen to this audio clip example of how a health care assistant handles a situation where a task she is delegated is beyond her skills and knowledge.

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