Healthcare assistants are becoming a key part of the healthcare team. This section outlines some of their roles, benefits of adding to your team and training opportunities for healthcare assistants.
What is a healthcare assistant?
Healthcare assistants are non-health professionals or support staff who work collaboratively with the general practice team to meet the needs of the enrolled population, follow policy and procedures, and work under direction and delegation of a registered health professional. To carry out the role safely, the health care assistant must be appropriately trained, supervised and assessed as competent for the role. The healthcare assistant must have the knowledge, skills and understanding to carry out the duties in a caring and compassionate way.
The following table shows some of the common and advanced roles for healthcare assistants.
Common roles for healthcare assistants:
Advanced roles for healthcare assistants:
Benefits of having a healthcare assistant
The benefits of including a healthcare assistant for GP practices and patients include:
- Improve utilisation of limited resources within the practice
- Freeing practice nurses for patient education and nurse-led clinics
- Freeing GPs to see more patients and pursue medical interests including minor surgery and speciality clinics
- Shorter waiting times for patients.
What training is available for healthcare assistants?
Training for HCAs can either be undertaken as an apprenticeship or full-time 12-week study through accredited training programmes.
Training programmes are available through the following providers. Study options vary and cost approximately $1600 - $2000. Scholarships are available from Health Workforce NZ for applicants that are Māori and/or Pacific and meet the criteria.
- Primary care practice assistance apprenticeship CareerForce
- Career & study options – Nursing Unitec
- Health studies – Certificate in Health & Well-being (level 4) Manukau Institute of Technology
The following websites provide a range of resources that may be useful. Note they are UK and American so some information may be different.
- The Lay Person Improving primary care
- First steps for healthcare assistants Royal College of Nursing, UK