How To Apply for Healthcare Assistant Jobs in the NHS

1-2 minutes

Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) or Healthcare Support Workers (HCSWs) are crucial in supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality patient care across various settings, from primary care to mental health and children's services. 

If you would like to know how to apply for a Healthcare Assistant job in the NHS, we’ve covered everything which you could need to know in our latest insights piece. 

What is a Healthcare Assistant?

Healthcare Assistants (HCAs), also known as Healthcare Support Workers (HCSWs) in some NHS trusts, play a vital role in delivering compassionate, high quality patient care. They typically work as part of a wider health or social care team, typically under the guidance of a healthcare professional, such as a Registered General Nurse. HCAs work in a wide variety of settings, including acute, primary care, mental health and children’s services to name but a few.

What tasks to do Healthcare Assistants carry out?

Healthcare Assistants and Healthcare Support Workers carry out a wide range of duties, including:

  • Ensuring patients are comfortable
  • Updating patient records
  • Assisting patients to move around
  • Taking necessary observations 
  • Ensuring departments are kept tidy 
  • Washing and dressing patients
  • Maintaining cleanliness of equipment
  • Serving meals and helping patients to eat

Entry requirements to become a Healthcare Assistant

Whilst there are no set entry requirements for becoming a Healthcare Assistant, many employers will expect a good level of literacy and numeracy as a bare minimum. As such, they may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths. 

They may also require a relevant healthcare qualification, such as a BTEC or NVQ. Further to these qualifications, employers will look favourably on candidates with some experience of healthcare or care work. 

Relevant experience can be gained through paid or voluntary work, while some healthcare apprenticeships provide a good foundation of experience to apply for HCA posts. An apprenticeship may also allow you to study for a relevant qualification, such as the NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services or the NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support.

Skills and personality traits needed to become an HCA

To become a Healthcare Assistant, you'll need certain skills and personality traits, including:

  • Kind and caring 
  • Friendly and cheerful
  • Willingness to be hands-on
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Initiative and ability to work in a team
  • Good listening and communication skills
  • Strong organisation and time management skills

How to apply for Healthcare Assistant jobs

Many Healthcare Assistant jobs can be found on the NHS website, but did you know that many temporary and interim contract Healthcare Assistant jobs can be found with recruitment agencies such as ourselves? (With short term contract work, Healthcare Assistants can generally be expected to pay more.)

If you would like to apply for Healthcare Assistant jobs in the NHS, these simple but actionable tips will give yourself the best chance of success.

1. Research the role and organisation

Read the job description thoroughly before writing your application to understand what the job entails. Spend time researching the organisation via their website to understand their values and what it might be like to work there. Video tours and staff stories can be insightful resources.

2. Pinpoint transferable skills

Don’t get overly hung up on the qualifications and experience listed in an HCA or HCSW job description. Many NHS employers will follow a values-based recruitment approach, meaning they’ll be more interested in your personality traits than your academic prowess. However, it’s a good idea to pinpoint transferable skills from your previous employment to illustrate why you’d be a good fit for the role in a tailored version of your CV.

3. Simple but structured application and covering letter

You want your job application and covering letter to be simple but well structured to enable your skills, personality and experience to shine through. Using the transferrable skills you identified earlier, the language used in the job description, and the values identified on the organisation’s website, to point out some applicable examples in previous roles of how you’ve demonstrated the specific skills and values they’re looking for.

Don’t forget to proofread everything before you click ‘send’! Enlist the help of a friend or family member to check for any spelling and grammatical issues, and you haven’t missed any opportunities to sell yourself. 

4. Use the STAR technique during the interview

If you’re lucky enough to make it to the interview stage, you’ll want to be well prepared to ensure you can project your personality in the best light. Expect plenty of value-based questions to showcase your attributes and values, such as “can you give us an example of a time when you helped someone in need?” Ensuring you’re familiar with the job description, person specification and your application can provide a framework for your answer.  

The ‘STAR’ technique is a useful approach for structuring your interview answers. Take some time to practise framing your answers in the following way to give yourself an edge at the interview.

  • Situation – Explain the situation to set the scene.
  • Task – Outline your task in the given situation.
  • Action – Highlight the actions you took and why.
  • Result – Illustrate the results of your actions.


Latest Healthcare Assistant jobs at Spencer Clarke Group

If you’re searching for your next Healthcare Assistant job, why not take a look at all the vacancies currently available in NHS trusts across the UK? 

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Why not upload your CV or contact our healthcare recruitment specialist, Kaylah Henderson, to discover more about upcoming opportunities. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group? 

Since 2017, we've been changing the face of recruitment. From our employees, to the way we do business, to the culture within our office, we're determined to make a difference and create a positive impact on everyone around us.

Recruitment to us isn't just about matching candidates and clients; we’re passionate about finding candidates the perfect job which has the ability to boost their salary and standard of living, better their work life balance and improve their mental health. 

Similarly, we understand the impact which an experienced and skilled employee can make to a business and we love seeing clients thrive through the hard work of candidates which we have placed with them. 

We operate in two sectors:

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If you’re searching for a new role, why not visit our job page to take a look at the latest opportunities? Alternatively, upload your CV and one of our experienced consultants will contact you when a relevant opportunity becomes available. 

If you’re struggling to fill a role, why don’t you give us a call on 01772 954200 to see how we can help? One of our consultants will be happy to listen to the challenges which you are facing and advise on the best possible solution for you. 

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