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Looking after others is always a meaningful and rewarding job, which is why so many healthcare assistants love what they do. It also helps that there is so much variety in the role.
Being a healthcare assistant (HCA) means that no two days are the same. You will work with different clients who have different needs and there will often be unexpected situations that arise that you need to react to during your shift. The type of duties you perform will also depend on what time of day you are working, whether that’s a day shift or a night shift. Being a healthcare assistant in a care home setting or on a ward is also very different to being a healthcare assistant in a private home.
But there are some patterns to the working day which can give a reassuring structure to your working life. Here’s what a day in the life of a healthcare assistant might look like:
If you’re on the early shift, you’ll be responsible for helping patients with their morning routines and personal care. It is vital to familiarise yourself with a client’s care plan before you attend to their personal care as this will guide you on the client’s needs and requirements. This might include assisting clients to get out of bed if they lack mobility and attending to their personal hygiene, such as helping them to get washed and dressed. You will often need to prepare breakfast, such as toast or cereal, as well as a hot and / or cold drink. This is also the time to prompt patients to take their medications; bear in mind that the timing of some medication is critical to the wellbeing of the patient.
During the morning shift, you will also need to make sure commodes are emptied, incontinence pads are changed and beds are made or, if necessary, that sheets are changed. If you’re working in a private setting, there may also be some light housekeeping duties such as laundry, washing up and clearing away after mealtimes. If you’re on a ward, you will regularly perform ‘comfort rounds’ throughout the day, making sure the client has everything they need, while also monitoring and completing daily observations and paperwork.
Providing care in the afternoon follows on from the morning care routine. Again, it is important to check each client’s care plan so you know what kind of support they need. Making sure a client is comfortable is the priority and this may mean assisting them to move around or go to the bathroom. Patients will usually require something to eat and drink at lunchtime; meals may have been provided or you may need to help prepare something nutritious. And some clients will also need to take their lunchtime medications at this time.
If you are a healthcare assistant on a ward, you might meet a client’s relatives when afternoon visiting hours start. You might also help patients get ready to visit other departments, such as the Occupational Therapist and other members of the multidisciplinary team. If you are a healthcare assistant in a private setting, you might help the client take an afternoon walk or assist clients in other ways, such as doing some shopping, tidying or light housework.
As the day draws to a close, it’s time to settle the clients down for the night. Depending on the setting you are working in and the timing of your shift, you may be required to prepare an evening meal and drink. It’s also the time to make sure the client has had their evening medication. A patient’s care plan will also detail whether the client needs a bath or some other help with their personal hygiene before bedtime.
Before assisting a client to bed, it is important to make sure they have everything they might need for the night. You may need to help attach catheters, bags and incontinence pads so that the client is comfortable during the night. If you are on a ward, you will also be listening out for call bells from other clients who may need attention – on a ward setting, all HCAs work together to answer call bells from all patients, not just their allocated ones.
If you like the idea of making a difference to people’s lives by becoming a healthcare assistant, you’re in luck, as there is a huge demand for HCAs in the UK especially with many Health Care assitants becoming qualified nurses. Take the first step and start your journey as an HCA today with our guide on how to become a healthcare assistant.