Nursing Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Nursing Assistant, sometimes called a Healthcare Assistant supports Nurses by caring for patients in health facilities or their own homes. Their duties include helping patients with daily tasks, monitoring health symptoms and performing some domestic tasks.


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Nursing Assistant duties and responsibilities

Nursing Assistants perform several tasks when delivering patient care and reporting back to Nurses. Their duties vary depending on their workplace, but usually include:

  • Helping patients with mobility issues showering, eating and get dressed
  • Lifting and moving patients or supporting their movements around a facility or home
  • Talking to patients and reassuring them about their care and health outcomes
  • Making patient beds and tidying their surroundings
  • Taking patients’ temperatures and pulses
  • Reporting any patient concerns to Nurses
  • Attending meetings with Nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Encouraging patients to get exercise and participating in scheduled activities


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What does a Nursing Assistant do?

A Nursing Assistant provides basic care to keep patients well and comfortable. Their work supplements the efforts of Nurses and Doctors. They support Nurses by performing basic care duties and keeping Nurses updated on their patients’ conditions. They improve patient care and healthcare outcomes by providing dedicated support. They also relieve pressure on Nurses by performing many of their traditional duties. Their efforts help Nurses stay calm and focused on more complex tasks. As they improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, Nursing Assistants can improve the reputations of their healthcare facilities.


Nursing Assistant skills and qualifications

Nursing Assistants use a variety of soft skills to give their patients the best possible care. Hospitals, care homes and home health agencies typically hire Nursing Assistants. A successful Nursing Assistant candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that typically include:

  • Verbal communication, including active listening, for talking to patients and relaying their concerns to Nurses
  • Manual skills for moving patients and assisting them in daily tasks
  • Customer service for patient satisfaction
  • Conflict resolution for calming stressed or anxious patients
  • Competent use of patient hoists, lifts and swings
  • Basic computer literacy, including confidence using a PC and handheld devices to record patient information
  • Competent domestic skills, including cleaning and organisation


Nursing Assistant experience requirements

Working as a Nursing Assistant is an entry-level job that does not require prior experience. However, employers prefer candidates who have some relevant experience. Completing an intermediate Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship or work placement program provides valuable practical experience. People with past experience working as Trainee Care Assistants in residential or care homes will already know the basics of patient care. Volunteering in a healthcare setting or providing personal care to a loved one will also give candidates valuable practical experience.


Nursing Assistants education and training requirements

People usually become Nursing Assistants after completing college courses or apprenticeships. Relevant college courses include a Level 2 Certificate in Work Preparation for Health and Social Care, a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care and a Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care. These courses typically include a work placement program. As GSCE requirements are less strict, some people prefer completing a Healthcare Support Worker apprenticeship. People can become Nursing Assistants with just GSCEs, but it usually takes several years working as a Trainee Nurse Assistant.


Nursing Assistant salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for Nursing Assistants in the UK is  £10.54 per hour. Their exact salary may vary depending on location, candidate experience and the company.


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Nursing Assistant job description FAQs


What is the difference between a Nursing Assistant and a Nurse?

Nursing Assistants perform basic medical tasks, such as checking pulses and temperatures, but only Nurses perform complex nursing tasks such as giving drugs and injections and cleaning and dressing wounds. Most Nurses have degrees in nursing, while Nursing Assistants usually have healthcare certificates or diplomas. Nurses and Nursing Assistants can both complete apprenticeship programs, but a Nursing Assistant’s program is 12 to 18 months, rather than four years.


What qualities do successful Nursing Assistants have?

The most successful Nursing Assistants are kind, compassionate people who genuinely care for their patients. They are sensitive to their patients’ needs and any discomfort they are feeling. Their calm nature and patience help them stay calm at all times. They enjoy working with others as part of a nursing team. They accept criticism well and use the feedback to improve their work habits. They also have good physical fitness, which helps them move patients and stay on their feet during long shifts.


How can I feel confident my Nursing Assistant is of good character?

You can run an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check on all short-listed candidates. These checks reveal any criminal activity and relevant police interactions. Note that employment is subject to the results of this check in your job posting.

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