Healthcare Support Worker

Quote / Testimonial:

“The thing I enjoy most is providing individual patient care. Having a direct influence on a person’s health is very fulfilling and I love watching a person progress and improve from admission to discharge.”

Luke Watson, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead


Healthcare support workers support people with their health and social care needs, such as helping them to eat and drink, supporting personal hygiene needs, talking to people, and making them comfortable. They can also undertake and record clinical observations and support people in the management of a range of conditions.

Salary, hours and benefits

Average salary£18,005 – £19,337 depending on experience, with a senior healthcare support worker earning £19,737 – £21,142.
Typical hoursStandard hours are usually around 37.5 a week.
You could workShifts, which could involve nights, early starts, evenings, and weekends. Some roles may involve office hours.
  • A minimum of 27 days of annual leave per annum
  • Opportunity to join the NHS Pension Scheme
  • Access to occupational health services
  • Professional development opportunities

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • supporting people to wash and dress,
  • supporting people to prepare and eat a nutritionally balanced diet,
  • supporting people to mobilise,
  • supporting people to live independently,
  • making people feel comfortable,
  • taking observations such as temperatures, pulse, respirations and weight,
  • contributing to health checks,
  • providing health promotion or health education to people.

In addition to the day-to-day tasks that a healthcare support worker would undertake, a senior healthcare support worker may:

  • support people with personal care tasks, reporting to a healthcare professional when uncertain or when a matter needs to be escalated to someone with more knowledge or skill,
  • contribute to supported outdoor activities,
  • be an advocate for people with learning disabilities,
  • contribute to personal assessments and planning care,
  • help to monitor and report any safeguarding concerns.

Working environment

Healthcare support workers can work in a variety of settings with people who have a learning disability. These could include a specific healthcare setting such as an acute care facility, in specialist community teams, or in learning disability assessment and treatment units, mental health hospitals, general practice, care homes, and hospices.

Characteristics and skills required

You’ll need to be: 

  • caring and kind,
  • cheerful and friendly,
  • willing to work with people on a one-on-one basis,
  • willing to support people with personal care tasks,
  • able to follow instructions and procedures,
  • happy to work in a team but use your own initiative.

You’ll also need:

  • communication skills, including listening,
  • organisation skills,
  • observational skills.

Once employed as a healthcare support worker you will be given support to obtain the Care Certificate, which will help you in your day-to-day role.

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults.

Career path and progression

With experience and further training, you could become a senior healthcare support worker or apply to train as an assistant practitioner or nursing associate.

With qualifications or evidence of academic ability, you could also train as one of the many degree-level healthcare professionals such as a nurse, podiatrist, or occupational therapist.

A range of roles can be found within nursing, from support to leadership:

Career Framework levelRoleDegree?
3Healthcare Support Worker

Support workers work with people with a learning disability and autistic people to promote independence and wellbeing, and they sometimes provide direct physical help when called for. They mainly work in the community and are most commonly employed by organisations outside of the NHS.
Not required
3 and 4Assistant Practitioner

Assistant practitioner is a clinical role, delivering person-centred care with other members of the nursing team. Assistant practitioners will provide direct care to people, and may contribute to service improvement projects, support the collection of data relating to safety and quality, and supervise those in healthcare support worker roles. They work under the direction of a registered health professional as part of a team with other healthcare staff and have a lot of contact with patients.

Foundation degree which may be available as an apprenticeship programme.
4Nursing Associate

Nursing associates work with people of all ages in a variety of settings in health and social care. As a nursing associate based in a learning disability setting, you may be caring for and supporting people in their own home, in the community, in a hospital, or in any health and care setting, working with registered nurses and other health and care professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Foundation- degree, is delivered by a two-year apprenticeship programme.
5 and 6Registered Nurse – Learning Disability
The registered nurse – learning disability plays a vital role, working with people with learning disabilities across the whole lifespan in both health and social care settings. By working with people and their families and putting the person at the centre of everything they do, these nurses lead the way in achieving positive health and social outcomes for people with learning disabilities.
Undergraduate Degree
Can be delivered as an apprenticeship programme.
7Advanced Clinical Practitioner
Advanced clinical practice is delivered by experienced nurses and embodies the ability to manage clinical care in partnership with individuals, families, and carers. In the field of learning disability nursing, advanced clinical practitioners might specialise in a particular aspect of health service delivery to people with learning disabilities, such as physical health inequality, behaviour, forensics, or autism.
Master’s Degree
8Nurse Consultant
Nurse consultants, also called consultant nurses, are highly experienced nurses who have specialised in a chosen area of practice. All consultant nurse posts are firmly based in clinical and nursing practice, and involve nurses working directly with patients, clients, or communities for much of their time.
Master’s Degree

How to become a Healthcare Support Worker

There are no set entry requirements to become a healthcare support worker, but in learning disability and autism services employers look for someone with a strong core values base. Employers expect good literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Maths. They may ask for a healthcare qualification, such as BTEC or NVQ.

While experience is not essential to become a healthcare support worker, it is desirable for many employers.

Becoming a volunteer within a health or care organisation is a good way to get some experience. Most NHS organisations have their own website, which will include a section on volunteering. Experience can also include caring for a loved one or paid employment within any health or care organisation. Experience within a customer service environment is also beneficial.

To move into a senior healthcare support worker role, healthcare experience would be essential as it builds on prior experience and skills. Completion of the Care Certificate would be expected.

From within health and social care

If you are already working in the health and social care sector and looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become a healthcare support worker within learning disability and autism support and care. You will need to map your skills and experience against the entry criteria for this role, as advertised by employers.

From outside health and social care

If you want to work in health and social care and you are looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become a healthcare support worker within learning disability and autism support and care. You will need to map your skills and experience against the entry for this role, as advertised by employers.

Financial support

If you work in an NHS organisation in London you are given an uplift in salary, known as London weighting. 

This is a percentage increase in your salary depending on the location of your employer within the London region.

Current opportunities

Jobs in the UK

The number of healthcare support worker and senior healthcare support worker roles is growing. Most NHS Trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some advertise on their own websites.

Jobs may also be advertised on individual health or care organisation websites.