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Healthcare Support Workers

First Steps for Health Care Assistants (HCAs)

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) brings you First Steps for Health Care Assistants (HCAs) to support you either individually – or as part of your workplace induction programme – to learn in your own time, the most important factors that will get you started in your health care career.

First Steps has been developed around the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework and codes and standards for each of the UK countries, see ‘Information for employers’.


Overarching learning outcomes

After completing all the sections in this learning resource, the learner should be able to:

  • explain the role of the HCA and the boundaries of the role, taking into account your individual rights and responsibilities
  • describe what is meant by person – centred care and patient safety
  • explain the process for identifying and reporting suspected abuse of vulnerable people (safeguarding)
  • describe the principles of promoting health
  • describe the principles of effective communication
  • describe the legal requirements regarding confidentiality, consent and capacity
  • explain best practice for recording and accessing medical records
  • describe the principles of quality care in terms of: teamwork; accountability and delegation; and best practice guidelines
  • describe the principles of equality, diversity and rights in terms of: the legal requirements; promoting and treating people with dignity, respect and privacy; and the process for raising concerns
  • explain the policies and practices that protect the safety of staff and all other individuals in the workplace environment
  • describe the principles of infection prevention and control including the importance and practice of good hand hygiene
  • explain the importance and benefits of continuing professional development and reflective practice as a lifelong learner
  • explain the procedure for undertaking a range of observation activities.


To find out more please click HERE.


Healthcare assistants (HCAs) are a vital part of the team that supports GPs, Practice Nurses and patients in General Practice.

The role of a HCA is varied.  You may:

  • sterilise equipment
  • do health checks
  • restock consulting rooms
  • process lab samples
  • take blood samples
  • do health promotion or health education work
Entry requirements 

There are no set entry requirements to become a healthcare assistant. Employers expect good literacy and numeracy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths.

Hammersmith and Fulham Adult Learning and Skills Service offer a range of courses from beginner to advanced levels, all taught by experienced teachers and are free to anyone that lives and / or works in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Code of Conduct

To be a HCA, you will need to have key personality characteristics and skills for this crucial patient facing role.  All HCAs will need to follow the Code of Conduct which sets the standards of conduct for Health Care Assistants.

Watch this video about a career in the NHS as a Health Care Assistant.


Nursing associates

The Nursing Associate role is a new support role that will sit alongside existing healthcare support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses to deliver hands-on care for patients. Following huge interest some 2,000 people are now in training with providers across England.  For more information, please click here.

More information

If you would like to become involved or know more about the work that the Hammersmith and Fulham’s Community Education Provider Network (CEPN)is doing, please email us at