Like any profession in the healthcare industry, Health Care Assistants (HCAs) hold vital roles and responsibilities that have the means to impact lives.
As valued and important members of the team, Health Care Assistants work eagerly to promote and maintain the health, safety, independence, comfort, and well-being of their clients.
will cover the 101 on Health Care Assistants and answer some of the top
questions students have on the role and industry. Keep on reading to learn
What Do Health Care Assistants Do?
While Health Care Assistants exercise a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities, the overarching role of an HCA (or a care aide) is to provide personal care assistance and services in a caring, compassionate manner that recognizes and supports the unique needs, abilities, and backgrounds of their clients.
Understanding this, Health Care Assistants are the ones responsible for providing catered care and assistance for clients – ensuring they are safe, comfortable, and content.
As members of the health care team, they work with direction and supervision from other health professionals.
Some of the more specific Health Care Assistant duties and responsibilities include:
- Providing care and assistance for clients experiencing complex health, cognitive, and/or mental health challenges
- Recognizing and responding to self-development, learning, and health-enhancements needs
- communicating clearly and accurately with clients and families within a variety of community and facility contexts, bearing in mind sensitive situations.
Additionally, Health Care Assistants are also responsible for using an informed problem-solving approach to provide care and assistance to clients – helping promote their physical, psychological, social, cognitive, and/or spiritual well-being.
are accountable for monitoring their clients’ health accordingly and properly
and embody the responsibilities of a care aide.
What Traits Should I Have as a Health Care Assistant?
Health Care Assistants can be considered to be a jack of all trades with the variety of their tasks and responsibilities.
Their tasks vary from feeding patients, to taking temperatures, dressing wounds, to even helping patients move around. In fact, every day on the job is different, so you’ll never find them bored or tired of the job.
how much of their role revolves around people, HCAs need to be caring,
friendly, respectful, and able to get along with all kinds of people – they
need to be people persons and have the heart and compassion to help those in
With the nature of the role, Health Care Assistants also need to be attentive listeners and observers, particularly in the case when patients are unable to ask for help even when they need it.
Because of this, they need to be able to spot a client’s needs with the onset of any symptoms and signs.
Health Care Assistants are also very patient and dependable people because they need to be able to handle and work with patients who are more challenging and demanding.
Furthermore, HCAs should be relatively physically fit as they may need to lift objects and do some heavy work from time to time.
What’s the Difference Between a Health Care Assistant and a Practical
One of the
most frequently asked questions our students have is “what is the difference
between a Health
Care Assistant and a Practical
Nurse?” So, what is
For a pronounced answer, one of the biggest differences between the two is that Health Care Assistants execute more general roles.
Students pursuing studies as an HCA receive training that is similar to a practical nurse’s, however, the main distinction is that HCAs receive more emphasis on support and administration.
Generally, practical nurses are more specialized so they tend to work with doctors in hospitals and clinics.
On the other hand, Health Care Assistants work more administrative roles so they work less with nursing tasks like specimen sampling, wound care, and vital signs monitoring.
to note is that, particularly at Sprott Shaw, our Health Care Assistant Program
is shorter than our Practical Nursing Program – so it’s an appropriate and excellent
option for students who want to get from education to the workplace as soon as
possible. In fact, students can become a Health Care Assistant in as little as
Where Do Health Care Assistants Work?
Considering the landscape of the
healthcare industry, there will always be a consistent demand and appeal for
Health Care Assistant jobs and positions in all facets.
With the nature of the role and
industry, HCAs can work in a variety of environments and locations. However,
the most prominent areas are hospitals, acute/complex care facilities, rest
homes, care homes, special care units, adult daycares, and agencies within the
More specifically, graduates from
Sprott Shaw’s Health Care Assistant Program have been hired at the following
esteemed companies and associations: Kelowna
General Hospital, CBI
Health Group, Vancouver
Coastal Health, Fraser
Health Authority, Shaughnessy Care
Centre, Sea to Sky Community Services, Interior Health, Haven Hill Retirement Centre, and many more!
At Sprott Shaw, the Health Care Assistant Program is a pathway to the Practical Nursing Program so students have the opportunity to pursue a career as a practical nurse. This Access Program is available at all locations where Practical Nursing is offered.
If you are interested in studying at Sprott Shaw College to become a Health Care Assistant, please contact one of our knowledgeable advisors below!