Purpose and Mission
Patient care assistants have a variety of duties that support clinical care in clinics in hospitals. Duties may include cleaning, catering and orderly duties. One common responsibility is patient movement and transporting patients to appointments within a hospital. They are responsible for transferring patients safely and ensuring that patients are accompanied by any medical documentation and all their personal belongings. Patient care assistants must also help out as requested during emergencies.
Depending on the facility, a patient care assistant may report to a nurse supervisor or patient services manager or another administrator at their facility. Some care assistants work in specific departments, and some have rotating duties in various departments in the facility.
Most patient care assistants do not have notable supervisory responsibilities. Senior patient care assistants may be responsible for training of new colleagues, and may have input into the performance evaluation of junior care staff.
You can become a patient care assistant without formal qualifications, and receive on-the-job training. That said, many employers prefer candidates with a formal certificate in health services assistance or health support services.
A Certificate II and III in Health Support Services and a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance are available at most state training facilities other registered training organisations in Australia.
Some who enter this profession get their foot in the door with a traineeship. A health service assistance or health support services traineeship is typically a one-year program, and are also offered as school-based traineeships.
Responsibilities of a Patient Care Assistant
Patient care assistants typically work under the specific direction of other hospital staff. For example, they may help nurses with patient repositioning and transport, or be responsible for restocking or inventory. They may also collect and deliver urgent items such as medication, specimens and imaging reports as requested by the nursing or medical staff.
In most cases, patient care assistants work under the direct supervision of nurses and patient support services managers. Their job is to work closely with nursing, medical and allied health staff to make sure that all patient health needs are met. Note that depending on the facility where they work, patient care assistants may also be known as hospital services assistants, patient support assistants or simply care assistants.