The role of the health care assistant

First and foremost, this resource is about helping you as a health care assistant to recognise the opportunities and boundaries of your role. It aims to help you acquire the key skills and competencies that will enable you to be a safe, person-centred practitioner, working as part of a team to deliver high-quality, ethical and non-discriminatory care to patients/clients.

The resource may cover some issues that are not part of your particular role, and fail to cover some issues that are. Health care assistants across the UK perform a variety of roles, and it wouldn’t be sensible (or even possible) to try to reflect them all here.  What is important for you personally, though, is to have:

  • discussed and agreed your role with your employer, knowing exactly what you are expected to do (and what you are not)
  • recognised your own rights and responsibilities as an employee, including the right not to perform any role for which you are neither trained nor competent.

The resource also reflects the fact that your employer is obliged to provide training for you in certain key elements of practice – basic life support, moving and handling, and safeguarding adults and children, for instance. We’ve not tried to repeat this training here, but hope that much of the content will add to your learning and deepen your understanding of the issues.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has developed a very brief outline of the different roles that exist in a nursing team. The document – The nursing team: Common goals, different roles – can be accessed here [PDF file 36KB] [How to access PDF files]. Before you start working through the resource, access this document and see how its description of the health care assistant role matches up to your own understanding.