Health Care Assistant Kaiāwhina Haumanu Hauora/Kaimahi Atawhai

Health care assistants support nurses and care for people in private homes, hospitals, general practices or rest homes.

Health care assistants may do some or all of the following:

  • help patients or clients wash, dress and eat
  • help with laundry, housework and shopping
  • make sure patients or clients take the correct medicine
  • help clients attend appointments
  • help patients rehabilitate in areas such as social skills and walking.

Physical Requirements

Health care assistants need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, with no back problems, as the work can be physically demanding.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for health care assistants includes:

  • work in rest homes, nursing homes and hospitals
  • work with families, the elderly or people with disabilities
  • work helping people, or customer service
  • first aid
  • cleaning and housekeeping.

Personal Qualities

Health care assistants need to be:

  • patient and tolerant
  • practical, organised and responsible
  • friendly, helpful and compassionate
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to relate well to people from different cultures
  • skilled at listening and communicating
  • able to cope with stressful and emotional situations.

Skills

Health care assistants need to have knowledge of:

  • patient care
  • the needs of the patients or clients they work with, such as elderly people, young people or people with disabilities
  • first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • safe lifting techniques and how to use hoists.

They may also need to know about:

  • hospital procedures
  • health and safety procedures, including storage of hazardous goods.

Conditions

Health care assistants:

  • may work shifts, including evenings and weekends (home support workers usually work only during the day)
  • work in clients' homes, clinics, rest homes and nursing homes or in hospitals – in emergency departments and intensive care, maternity wards, outpatient clinics, operating theatres and mental health clinics
  • may be exposed to diseases and body fluids
  • may travel locally to clients' homes.

Health Care Assistants can earn around $21-$25 per hour.

Pay for health care assistants varies depending on experience, where they work, and how many hours a week they work.

Health care assistants employed by a district health board

  • New health care assistants earn minimum wage.
  • After one to three years' experience they earn between $21 and $22 an hour.
  • With four to five years' experience they earn $22 to $23 an hour.

 Support workers who provide care in people's homes

  • Support workers with up to eight years' experience or a Level 2 qualification earn between $21 and $22 an hour.
  • Those with over eight years' experience or a Level 3 or 4 qualification earn between $23 and $25 an hour.

Sources: District Health Boards and New Zealand Nurses Organisation, 'Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) 4 June 2018-31 July 2020', accessed September 2019; E tū, 'Let's Bring This Home', September 2019; and Ministry of Social Development, 'Factsheet: Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement', July 2018.

Health care assistants may progress into management or administration roles. With further training, they may become enrolled or registered nurses, or phlebotomists (who collect blood samples).

Health care assistants can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Health Care Assistant
Health care assistants support nurses working with patients in aged residential care or medical practices.
Home and Community Support Worker
Home and community support workers help clients with bathing, dressing, eating, laundry and housework in private homes.

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a health care assistant.

However, employers usually prefer you to have, or work towards, a qualification such as a:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 2)
  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Health Assistance (Level 3), to work in hospitals and rest homes
  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Support Work (Level 3), to provide care in private homes.

You may also need:

  • a first aid certificate
  • a driver's licence.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Health Care Assistant

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