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Exploring the working life of a Healthcare Assistant

by Emily Gorsky
Posted: December 16, 2019

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Healthcare and social assistance is Australia’s fastest-growing industry. It is responsible for making the largest contribution to the nation’s job growth in the last 15 years by employing over 1.5 million people. Australia’s ageing population is a huge factor in this growth, and the Australian government has predicted that by 2050, some 3.5 million Australians will require aged care assistance. The role of a healthcare assistant is one role in this sector that is in high demand for this very reason.

Healthcare assistants typically work in hospitals, aged care facilities or other community settings, under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional such as a doctor, midwife or nurse.

Healthcare assistants perform a wide variety of duties including assisting patients, performing health checks and completing administrative tasks. Below you will find more information about what is involved in the working life of a healthcare assistant.

Key responsibilities and duties

Your duties as a healthcare assistant will involve the daily physical care of patients. You may be required to help patients wash and dress, serve them meals, provide help with feeding, monitor patients’ conditions and ensure they are comfortable. When a patient requests help, you’ll be responsible for finding out what they need and directing the right care to them.

Other duties can include performing health checks, sterilising equipment, processing lab samples and restocking medical supplies. Since record-keeping is an important part of this role, you must document everything thoroughly and pass on any observations to your supervisor. You may also be responsible for scheduling patient appointments, arranging hospital admissions, updating patient records and recording patients’ medical histories. Interactions with medical staff, patients, and their families is also an integral part of this role.

It is important for healthcare assistants to have both technical and interpersonal skills. Technical skills include medical and nursing knowledge while interpersonal skills involve working effectively with patients and other members of staff.

Personal qualities

To be successful as a healthcare assistant, you must be detail-oriented, organised, observant, compassionate, highly adaptable and a great communicator.

Excellent interpersonal skills are a must. Empathy is one of the most important qualities you’ll need when working with others in this field. Healthcare assistants typically work directly with patients, therefore a gentle bedside manner is essential. A calm and positive demeanour will also help you deal with distressed or difficult patients. If you enjoy helping others and being a source of companionship, this type of role will likely come easy to you.

Having a keen sense of observation is important in a role like this because a patient’s health can deteriorate quickly if something goes unnoticed. Even small changes in a patient can indicate a problem, such as a change in behaviour, appearance or personal habit. This will require you to really get to know your patients so that you can effectively monitor them and keep your supervisor updated.

How to become a Healthcare Assistant?

You can work as a healthcare assistant without formal qualifications—however, a VET certification is favoured by most employers in this sector and can give you an edge over other job applicants.

Open Colleges’ health services courses can help you develop the necessary skills to start your career in healthcare assistance. You’ll gain an understanding of the health services sector and take on a work placement to help improve your confidence in the workplace. The right course can provide a strong foundation and open doors to a wide range of rewarding roles in the healthcare field.

To find out more, visit our health services page, download your free course guide or chat to one of our friendly student support team members and start your career journey today.


Emily Gorsky

Emily is a freelance Writer focusing on career, education and personal finance. She strongly believes in living a balanced life. Her mission is to inspire others to engage in self-motivated learning and build their own path to success.

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