What Are the Duties of a Health Care Assistant: Essential Guide

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Did you know, in 2019, there were approximately 365,000 healthcare assistants working in Canada which accounted for about 60% of all care workers in the country? 

With that being said, it is quite possible that you wonder who these healthcare assistants are and what are the roles and responsibilities they carry out in the healthcare industry. As the population ages, the demand for healthcare aides will continue to rise. Therefore, it is highly recommended to know ‘what are the duties of a health care assistant’

For this purpose, we have discussed the various duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant, highlighting their importance in the healthcare team. So, keep reading to learn more about what it takes to become a healthcare assistant, and what you can expect to perform by choosing this career path.

What is a healthcare assistant?

A healthcare assistant (HCA) is a vital member of a healthcare team who provides basic care and assistance to patients under the supervision of registered nurses, doctors, or other healthcare professionals.

From personal care assistance to medication management and emotional support, HCAs play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive compassionate and effective care. So, if you are interested in becoming a healthcare assistant, it is important to understand the scope of the duties and responsibilities that come with it.

So, let’s get into further details;

Duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant

A healthcare assistant, also known as a nursing assistant or patient care assistant, is responsible for providing direct care to patients under the supervision of a licensed nurse or doctor. The following are the primary duties and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant:

  • Assisting with Basic Patient Care

One of the primary responsibilities of a healthcare assistant is to provide basic patient care, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding. They may also be responsible for monitoring vital signs, collecting specimens for lab testing, and recording medical histories.

  • Supporting Nurses and Doctors

Healthcare assistants work closely with nurses and doctors, providing support with routine procedures such as dressing changes, catheterization, and wound care. They may also assist with more complex procedures such as surgery, under the supervision of a licensed professional. 

  • Maintaining Patient Records

Healthcare assistants are responsible for maintaining accurate patient records, including recording vital signs, medication administration, and other important information about the patient’s condition. They must also maintain patient confidentiality and follow all HIPAA guidelines.

  • Ensuring Patient Comfort and Safety

Healthcare assistants play a critical role in ensuring that patients are comfortable and safe. This includes repositioning patients to prevent pressure ulcers, providing emotional support, and ensuring that patients are receiving proper nutrition and hydration.

  • Maintaining a Clean and Safe Environment

Healthcare assistants are responsible for maintaining a clean and safe environment for patients. This includes cleaning and disinfecting equipment, stocking supplies, and ensuring that patient rooms are tidy and organized.

  • Communicating with Patients and Family Members

Healthcare assistants must have excellent communication skills to effectively communicate with patients and their families. They must be able to provide clear instructions on procedures, answer questions, and provide emotional support.

  • Providing Emotional Support

Healthcare assistants play an important role in providing emotional support to patients and their families. They must be compassionate, patient, and able to provide comfort to patients who may be anxious or scared.

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Skills Required to Become a Healthcare Assistant

Becoming a healthcare assistant requires some basic skills to perform the duties and responsibilities of the role efficiently. To work in the healthcare industry, candidates must meet the following basic qualifications:

  • Good Communication Skills
  • Compassion and Empathy
  • Attention to Detail
  • Adaptability
  • Physical stamina
  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving skill
  • Patience
  • Cultural awareness
  • Confidentiality

Health care assistant qualifications

Some basic healthcare qualifications include the following:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of a healthcare assistant training program or certification course
  • CPR and first aid certification
  • Additional certifications or specialized training
  • Basic knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology
  • Basic computer skills

However, it is important to note that specific qualifications and requirements may vary depending on the healthcare setting and the type of patients being cared for. For example, healthcare assistants working in long-term care facilities or home care may have different qualifications than those working in hospitals or clinics. Additionally, some healthcare assistant roles may require additional certifications or specialized training, such as medication administration or working with patients with dementia.


Healthcare assistants play a vital role in the healthcare industry, providing direct care and support to patients and working closely with nurses and doctors to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Their duties and responsibilities are vast and varied, from providing basic patient care to maintaining patient records and ensuring a clean and safe environment. If you are considering a healthcare career, becoming a healthcare assistant is an excellent starting point. With the right training, certification, and personal qualities, you can embark on a fulfilling career that makes a positive impact on the lives of others.


What qualifications are required to become a healthcare assistant?

In California, healthcare assistants are required to complete a state-approved training program and pass a competency exam before they can work in a healthcare facility. Some facilities may also require certification in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

What is the job outlook for healthcare assistants?

The job outlook for healthcare assistants in CA is positive, with an expected job growth rate of 11% between 2019 and 2029.

Can healthcare assistants administer medication to patients?

In California, healthcare assistants are not allowed to administer medication unless they have completed additional training and received certification as a medication aide.

What are the working hours of a healthcare assistant?

 The working hours of healthcare assistants may vary depending on the facility they work in. Some healthcare assistants may work full-time or part-time, while others may work on a rotating schedule or work weekends and holidays.

What qualities should a healthcare assistant possess?

Healthcare assistants should possess qualities such as compassion, empathy, patience, and excellent communication skills. They should also be detail-oriented, organized, and able to work in a fast-paced environment.

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