NHS Healthcare Support Workers
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About NHS Healthcare Support Workers

News & Updates

20 November 2020
Support workers are the bedrock of wards, clinics and community healthcare, up and down the country. We’ll be celebrating and showing our appreciation for their work on Monday 23 November, the first ever Nursing Support Workers’ Day. Led by the Royal College of Nursing, the day will shine a light on the vital contribution Nursing Support Workers make in caring for the health of our nation.

What is a healthcare support worker?

Our healthcare support worker (HCSW) roles represent a world of opportunities within the NHS. They’re a great entry point into the NHS and can lead to a lifelong career. If you’re looking to become a healthcare professional and want to gain experience, it’s a great place to start. But there’s more to the role than you might think. As with all jobs in the NHS, no two days are the same. You’ll work in a constantly evolving environment where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn and thrive, while being able to make a lasting, positive impact on people’s lives. As a HCSW, you’ll be a valued member of the team, at the heart of patient care. You’ll work closely with a team of registered healthcare professionals, helping to support patients on their journey, sharing their experiences and making a real difference. You’ll work alongside a passionate team who can help steer your career progression. It’s an incredibly varied role depending on where you’re based and what kind of setting you’re in – one minute you may be taking blood, the next you’ll be supporting patients through their treatment and making them feel comfortable and at ease. Plus, working with a varied team of doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals will expose you to new opportunities and help you develop your career. There are over 30 roles that sit under Healthcare Support Worker, including Healthcare Assistant, Maternity Care Assistant, Theatre Support Worker and Mental Health Support Worker. And with roles based in seven different settings from the community to children’s services, maternity to mental health, there’s sure to be one that feels like the right fit for you.

Mental Health

As a HCSW in the Mental Health sector, you’ll work as part of a wider team in a variety of different settings. Your day-to-day responsibilities will include: • Helping to care for patients and assist with their treatment and recovery. • Providing accurate and relevant feedback to a senior member of your team. • Discussing the care and progression of your patients in team meetings. • Helping to plan and apply care plans. • Supporting other healthcare workers. • Preparing risk assessments. • Working with visitors, carers and families, social services and other voluntary organisations.

Acute Care

In Acute Care you’ll work as part of a wider, multidisciplined team. It’s a hands-on environment and as a HCSW your day-to-day responsibilities will include: • Clinical tasks, including collection of samples, swabs, recording of fluid intake/output, and more. • Providing support for patients with their daily activities, including helping them to eat, drink and maintain their personal hygiene. • Take observations of temperature, pulse and blood pressure, keep patient records up to date and report any abnormalities to senior colleagues. • Help keep patients safe and comfortable, using equipment to move and mobilise them. • Talking to patients and helping to improve their experience of hospital care.


Community health services provide support across a range of needs and age groups but are most often used by children, older people, those living with frailty or chronic conditions and people who are near the end of their life. You'll work under the guidance of a registered healthcare professional such as a nurse, dietitian or occupational therapist and your job will vary depending on where you're based. Your day-to-day responsibilities may include: • To assist with assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating programmes of care with supervision. • To identify and report any changes in patient care needs or changes in physical or emotional well-being. • Helping the patient understand what their treatment and care plan may involve and require. • Carrying out health promotion or health education work. • Supporting individuals to understand and take their medication. • Monitoring patients' conditions by doing things like taking temperatures, pulse, respirations and weight (with training). • Supporting individuals with their daily activities such as personal hygiene and nutrition.


It’s not always easy to find a way into midwifery but working as Maternity Housekeeper or Maternity Support Worker can be a great starting point. Your day-to-day responsibilities could include: • Supporting the smooth running of maternity services • Locating and filing notes and preparing documents • Stock rotation and ordering • Basic care tasks including supporting hydration and dietary needs of women and their babies • Preparing women for clinical examination and tests including screening and immunisations, and acting as chaperone In addition to level 2 Maternity Housekeeper roles, level 3 Maternity Support Workers also may: • Carry out routine observations including blood pressure, temperature and weight • Take bloods from mums and their babies • Provide infant feeding support • Lead and support routine clinics, health promotion and education, including antenatal classes

Primary Care

As a HCSW in a Primary Care setting, you can expect to: • Help the team in delivering direct and indirect patient care. • Carry out health assessments on newly registered patients, for example blood pressure checks, urine tests, documenting medical history and more. • Assist in clinic sessions with nurses and members of the wider medical team. • Manage stock of drugs and supplies. • Carry out blood tests and more.

Children and Young People’s Services

As a HCSW in Children and Young People’s Services, you will work as part of a wider team in a variety of settings and will always work closely with the registered nurse team. Your responsibilities may include: • Helping the nursing team to provide direct and indirect patient care. This will include supporting patients with their activities of daily living eg personal hygiene. • Carrying out a range of clinical responsibilities, including taking recordings of temperature and other observations and reporting findings to senior colleagues. • Supporting registered children’s nurses to provide care for children and young people in the acute setting during the admission and discharge procedures. • Supporting the Children’s Community Nursing Service in providing respite or palliative care in a child’s home environment. • Assisting in the outpatient setting or other clinic sessions whilst supporting the multi-disciplinary teams. • Managing and ordering clinical supplies stock. • Providing support to the mothers of babies within the special care baby unit setting. • Working with Healthcare Play Specialists to make sure that the environment is age appropriate. • Talking to patients and their families whilst promoting the philosophy of family-centred care.

Learning Disability Support Workers

Working as a Healthcare Support Worker with people with learning disabilities and autistic people, you will provide a critical role in helping some of our most vulnerable members of society. You will teach people new skills, helping them to reach an optimum level of independence. Your day-to-day responsibilities will include: • Developing meaningful relationships with individuals who may have significant communication needs. • Helping to design highly personalised care plans, often based around an individual’s very complex physical, behavioural and mental health needs. • Helping, as part of a wider multi-disciplinary team, to design and deliver psychological and social support, often within the person’s own home and local community. • Inputting to the development of risk assessments and behavioural plans as part of people’s treatment and recovery. • Providing care, advice and support to an individual’s family, working in partnership with them to achieve the best outcomes. • Serving as an advocate for people who are often discriminated against, by raising awareness, setting standards, and using your interpersonal skills to make sure the person’s voice is heard.

Health and Justice

Working as a Healthcare Support Worker in Health and Justice, you’ll be an integral part of the healthcare team, providing services like health promotion clinics, observations, social/personal care, mental wellness, substance misuse and supporting the nursing and pharmacy teams in primary care. You could be working anywhere, from a prison to a police custody suite or a court, undertaking roles such as: • Assisting in clinical sessions, working with members of the wider healthcare team. • Carrying out initial and ongoing patient assessments and observations, like blood pressure, pulse and temperature. • Helping patients to understand their appointments and treatment plans and arranging triage and onward referral where appropriate. • Providing health promotion and prevention advice and supporting people who may have to manage a long-term or complex condition. • Assisting in managing and administering medicines. • Making sure that accurate medical records are kept, and that information is shared appropriately between organisations to keep people safe.

Where will the role take me?

As a HCSW your training will include basic nursing skills, and you’ll also work towards the Care Certificate. As you develop, you’ll be given more responsibility and you’ll have the opportunity to gain qualifications and progress. This, plus the experience you gain, will help you if you’re planning to take your career to the next level. Healthcare support worker roles can be a great entry point to the NHS. If you’d like to become a registered healthcare professional (a nurse, midwife or physiotherapist for example), working in clinical support can give you the experience you need to apply for your training. And if you don’t want to become a registered healthcare professional? That’s okay – you’ll still be able to progress and rise through the ranks. You’ll be encouraged to take qualifications and increase your knowledge and skills. Plus, as you gain experience, you’re likely to be given more responsibility, possibly working without direct supervision. You may even have the opportunity to become a team leader, supervising other clinical support staff.

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London, United Kingdom