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10 Qualities That Make a Great Healthcare Assistant

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How do I become a healthcare assistant?

Becoming a healthcare assistant with Helping Hands could be the most fulfilling role you ever have. You’ll support our customers to remain as independent as possible in their own homes while helping them to make the most of their local surroundings, if it’s something they enjoy. Our care assistants go above and beyond every single day to ensure our customers receive the care they deserve, and with opportunities on both a visiting care and live-in care basis across the whole of England and Wales, you can be sure there’s a role for you.

Here are some of the most important qualities for becoming a healthcare assistant with Helping Hands:

1. Having a passion for the role

Caring for others isn’t easy; some days can be extremely challenging. However, because you have a passion for the role and want to help others, you will rise above those challenges, meeting them head-on so that your customer remains as comfortable and feels as secure as possible in the home they love. Being able to remain at home for their care motivates our customers to choose us for their support needs, knowing that we’ll always put them at the very centre of their care journey and build their support package around them.

2. Being compassionate and empathetic

Wanting the best for another person has to come naturally if you are going to care for them, which is where compassion and empathy really make a difference. Your customer could be living with a condition that makes life very difficult for them, or they may be struggling with age-related frailties, however that doesn’t mean you can’t put yourself in their place and imagine how difficult some days can be. We’re here to make every day as good as it possibly can be for our customers, and learning about their condition and being empathetic to their needs is vital to achieving this.

3. Being encouraging, positive and patient

Part of our duty towards keeping our customers as independent as possible in their homes is encouraging them to do tasks that we might otherwise do for them. While we are there to assist our customers in any way we can, it can be counter-productive just to take over and do everything for them when we should encourage them to continue doing things for themselves. Therefore, if your customer declares they can’t do something, we should encourage them to try, although if they are unable, we will happily do it for them. If it’s not such a good day, we can encourage our customers to try again the next day and use positive language to ensure they aren’t too discouraged. Everyday tasks may also take longer than you’re used to, and your customer may have difficulty communicating, so you mustn’t rush them or get irritated. Promoting their independence is one of the most important things we can do for our customers, and finishing a task for them just because you think they’re taking too long is counter-intuitive to that goal.

4. Confidence

While you’ll have an amazing branch team or network of carers in your area, for the most part, you may find yourself working alone as a Helping Hands care assistant. You therefore need to be confident in your ability to deliver the care that your customer needs and also be able to spot problems if they arise. You will also need to be confident enough to speak out if you witness something that contravenes safeguarding legislation, even if it is being carried out by someone you consider a friend. You will have all the support you need to increase your confidence in your caregiving abilities though, thanks to our managers and mentors in your local area.

5. Being reliable and committed

In any role, it’s essential to be a reliable worker and arrive for shifts when you’re expected, however when you have vulnerable people relying on you to help them with their daily lives, it’s even more important. Our care managers work tirelessly to ensure that all care is covered and no one we’ve promised to support is left without care, but this can only be achieved if our care assistants are committed to their customers and attend as expected. We’ll give you all the support and training you need to ensure you are confident in your care role, but we expect you to be committed to your customers and colleagues in return.

6. Respectful of your customer’s choices

While we try and match our care assistants with customers who have the same interests and outlook, this isn’t always possible. You may care for someone who comes from a different background to yours and is also from a different generation, meaning that your opinions could differ on everything. Even if this is the case, you will still be able to find some common ground – whether it’s food you enjoy, local places, or animals, and it’s important to find something you can chat about that won’t offend either of you. However tempting it may be to engage your customer when you don’t agree with something they’ve said, it’s important to be respectful of their opinions and life choices, although this doesn’t mean you should accept being verbally abused. If this happens, raise it with your manager and ask for their help to resolve it.

7. Being observant

Being observant is an essential quality in most jobs, but when you are caregiving it is vital. You may be the only person the customer has regular contact with, and therefore you could be their last line of defence if their condition deteriorates or you think something is wrong. If you notice that your customer’s condition has changed at any point, it is essential to raise it with your manager and a medical professional so that the customer can have their condition reassessed. This can also apply if it’s not to do with their health; for instance, they’re transferring large sums of money or strangers are coming into their home. If you have concerns about any aspect of your customer’s well-being or safety, it’s essential to report it.

8. A good communicator

Communication is key to ensuring you have the best possible relationship with your customers, but sometimes this can be easier said than done. Your customer may be living with a condition that makes traditional methods of communication difficult, and many of our care assistants have worked hard to develop effective ways to communicate with their customer that are considered outside the norm. You might also have a language barrier when communicating with your customer, perhaps because English isn’t their first language or yours. Regardless, it is essential to learn how best to communicate with your customer, so there is no confusion about what they are asking for.

9. Having a real interest in people

Hopefully if you aren’t interested in people you aren’t even considering a career in healthcare, as it’s vital to want the best for the people you’re supporting at all times. Being an amazing healthcare assistant means you always have the other person’s interest at heart and put their wellbeing at the centre of everything you are doing for them, and that’s what we expect from our healthcare assistants. In return, you’ll have unlimited support, amazing opportunities for development, and the knowledge that you’re making another person’s life better every day, and you can’t put a price on that.

10. Being a quick learner

If you’re successful when you apply to Helping Hands, you may find that we can sometimes get you started in the role much quicker than you anticipated. This is because we have a ‘fast track’ programme for people who have previous experience or who demonstrate the essential qualities we’re looking for and have all of their paperwork in order. Therefore you may find you suddenly have a lot to learn in a short time so that we can get you supporting customers who need you as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean we leave you unprepared though, with a period of shadowing an experienced carer in our visiting service or an intense learning week when you’re going into live-in care.

Steps to becoming a healthcare assistant

From the moment you apply, to your first shift and beyond, we’ll support you throughout the entire process of becoming a healthcare assistant with Helping Hands. We’re always looking for outstanding people with all the qualities we want to support our amazing customers, and if you think you fit the bill, then we hope you’ll apply without hesitation. We recommend you read through our website and learn all you can about Helping Hands and the kind of work you can expect to do as a care assistant with us, as we want you to be a good fit for us and vice versa. Find out what you can expect as a care assistant with us here. There are several steps to your recruitment process, and while most people apply online, you can also go into your local branch and chat with the team. They may even offer you an instant interview!

Apply online

Begin your care journey with Helping Hands and apply to become a carer via our website. We recommend you do plenty of research into the role first and read all about our current vacancies to be sure it’s the right job for you. Our care assistants work hard, and the job isn’t easy, however it will also be the most rewarding thing you ever do. We don’t demand previous care experience from our care assistants as we feel that personal qualities are so much more important, however if you are experienced we will respect it and help you make the most of your existing skills.

Interview process

A recruitment team member will contact you for an interview, or you may have already been interviewed in your local branch. The interviewer will ask you some set questions to see how well you understand the role of a healthcare assistant with us and what you would expect to do while supporting your customer. They may also ask you how you’d handle challenging situations or how to best communicate with your customer, which is why it’s important to use examples from your previous experience or read up on what the role can involve.

Pre-employment checks

You must have the right to work in the UK before applying to Helping Hands, and you will also be advised what documents we require from you as part of the application process. We request an enhanced DBS check and two external references on your behalf so that we know we’re only employing the people that we should be, so you must give us all the information we require at the time of application, as well as be completely truthful in every part of the process.

Internal assessment

Following your interview, you’re invited to an assessment day at a local centre if you join our visiting care service or a residential assessment and instruction course for live-in carers. You will be given access to all the information you need to successfully begin your new role with us, such as how to administer and record medication correctly and hoist your customers safely. You’ll also learn about Helping Hands’ values, your responsibilities in your role, and how to deliver excellent customer service. Other essential knowledge includes:

  • Safeguarding against abuse
  • Delivering personal care
  • Dementia care
  • Health and Safety
  • First aid

Begin your new role!

It will be exciting to meet your first customer, but naturally, you may also be slightly nervous. Always remember that you’ve got a huge support network at all times at Helping Hands, including your local manager, branch colleagues, support office team, and many more. You can always talk to someone if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed in your new role, so please ask for help if you need it.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the Helping Hands family.