• Health Care Assistants & Nursing Associates


Welcome to our OTH page for HCAs, Nursing Associates and Health Care Support Workers. Whether you’re a student, an apprentice, fully qualified HCA or HCSW we believe there will be something of interest for you on this page (if there isn’t please tell us what you’d like to see here).

Becoming an HCA

There are no specific national requirements for becoming an HCA. You simply need to apply for a job as one. Once you have been accepted, your employer will provide the training you need. You should consider getting work experience before you apply so you’ll know what it’s like to work in health care. You may find it helpful to look at First Steps for Health Care Assistants (First Steps for HCAs) for background information.

Health Care Assistants (HCAs) are often described as the foundations of general practice and work under the guidance of other qualified health care professionals and together with the newer Nursing Associate role they form a vital part of the nursing team.

To carry out your role as an HCA safely, you must have completed a suitable training programme and your employer has a duty to make sure you are appropriately supervised and assessed as competent for your role. They must provide an induction for you so that you have the knowledge, skills and understanding to do your role in a compassionate and caring way, wherever you work. Each UK country has its own guidance and standards for induction.

This online learning resource First Steps for HCAs is a perfect supplement to your induction programme and can help you to build on your knowledge and understanding on a range of important issues.

More information on the work of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) can be found here.

Care Certificate

The Care Certificate is an agreed set of standards that sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of specific job roles in the health and social care sectors including HCAs and NAs. It’s made up of the 15 minimum standards that should be covered if you are ‘new to care’ and should form part of a robust induction programme.
The Care Certificate was developed jointly by Skills for Care, Health Education England and Skills for Health.

The standards
1.Understand your role
2.Your personal development
3.Duty of care
4.Equality and diversity
5.Work in a person centred way
7.Privacy and dignity
8.Fluids and nutrition
9.Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disabilities
10.Safeguarding adults
11.Safeguarding children
12.Basic life support
13.Health and safety
14.Handling information
15.Infection prevention and control

Regarded as ‘best practice’ for the induction of new Healthcare Assistants (HCAs), the Care Certificate is not a mandatory requirement; however, providers regulated by the CQC are expected to ensure that the standards of the Care Certificate are covered in their induction of new staff.  (CQC’s position on the Care Certificate:

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) has therefore, with the intention to provide support to practice nurses and to bridge the workforce gap between nurses and HCAs, been offering funded places for HCAs to complete the Care Certificate, with the course facilitated by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Acknowledged as the start of the career journey the Care Certificate is not only regarded as the minimum training, supervision and assessment that those staff new to care should receive as part of induction but also offers existing staff opportunities to refresh or improve their knowledge. It is considered the first ‘stepping stone’ from which staff can enter a career pathway, taking advantage of opportunities such as upskilling courses, apprenticeships and diplomas, with the Care Certificate having ongoing relevance throughout an individual’s personal career pathway. Correspondingly therefore it is hoped to establish one more cohort of HCAs to complete the training.

Managers’ approval is needed as is the identification of a clinically competent assessor who is willing to observe in practice. The assessor’s role will be to sign sections of the Care Certificate Portfolio to confirm that the HCA has demonstrated in practice that they are working to the required standard. This can be a skill (i.e. hand washing) or a behaviour. If the HCA has worked with the assessor this should not be a time-consuming task and if the HCA is new to the practice this can be combined with normal induction procedures.

For inclusion please confirm your (or your HCA’s) interest, with dates to be subsequently confirmed (It is anticipated that the learner will complete the Care Certificate Portfolio within 3 to 6 months of commencing the programme).

Please contact Sarah Harwood  ( for further information

HCA and NA apprenticeships

If you want to become an HCA or if you are already working as an HCA and would like to advance your career further then an apprenticeship could be the right choice for you.

Apprentices combine working with studying in order to gain further qualifications and valuable professional skills. Practices can taking on someone new as an apprentice or apprenticeships can now also be used to improve the skills of current clinical and non-clinical employees.

Apprentices must be

  • aged 16 and over
  • paid at least the minimum wage ( on apprentice scale)
  • employed for a minimum of 30 hours per week
  • 20% of apprentice time will account for job training

There are a wide range of clinical apprenticeships, which can be a great way to fill a particular need in your practice. As well as your practice providing on-the-job training, apprentices will study with a training provider of your choice.

Clinical Apprenticeship roles include:

  • HCAs and Nurse Associate. This booklet outlines the benefits of apprenticeship qualifications in primary care support roles both clinical and non-clinical and showcases the impact of apprentices within the work environment. Clinical- healthcare- support apprenticeships provides the skills and knowledge needed to support doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and healthcare scientists when they provide healthcare. Various clinical healthcare support roles to provide patient care in a range of settings like healthcare support worker or healthcare assistant.

A useful video about HCA apprenticeships is below.

Nursing Associate

The Nursing Associate role is a new support role that will complement existing healthcare support roles and work alongside 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.

These websites provide more information:


The OTH is working closely with local universities to support people wishing to take up this new opportunity. Please contact us if you are interested.

Education & Training

Our Training Calendar of CPD, education and training events pulls together all training and education sessions available to HCAs in Oxfordshire and provides important information about the event and how to book your place.

If you identify an event that is missing please do email us to let us know, so that we can better support the provision of your CPD.