How to Become a Healthcare Assistant

Most people become healthcare assistants because they have been a home carer for someone in their own family.  It’s a really good job for work/life balance with flexible hours and locations.  People enjoy working in care because it’s people-orientated and no two days are ever the same.  It gives personal satisfaction to help people in their everyday lives.  Here’s how you go about making it your career.

What’s involved –  Elder Care

People, as they age, can get any number of illnesses or conditions and it helps greatly to know a bit about these so you can support best their situation.  Also, no two people are ever the same so caring can be challenging as you have to meet the unexpected.  You need personal qualities within you to handle these and also a willingness to continue to learn.   New things emerge all of the time in life – every day is a learning day in-home care.

Do you have what it takes?

The key qualities needed for the working in care is a love of being with people compassion, kindness, patience, honesty and openness.  You also need resilience – some days can be more challenging than others. After that the job requires you be organised and reliable – this is important because once you become part of someone’s routine they will depend on you to be there as agreed.

Really good communication skills – this is speaking, listening and also reading and writing.  An important part of each visit is to check the Care Diaries as to what has happened before you arrived and also then at the end of the home care visit you record what you have done.  There may also be times when you need to report things that have happened and this is always written.

A happy friendly smile also goes a long way in care – it brightens up people’s days.

Minimum Requirements to Work

Everyone who works in Healthcare has contact with vulnerable people.  Safety and well-being is essential to care service and so everyone must be reference checked regarding previous employers and also checked regarding criminal records (pass Garda Vetting/ International Police Clearance)

  • have suitable character references
  • have Patient & Manual Handling Certification

QQI Level 5 Healthcare Assistant is the major award in Ireland that people undertake to be qualified – some people have ‘equivalent’ qualifications. You can start to work in-home care if you have these two QQI modules from that programme and are willing to continue learning to get the full award: Level 5 ‘Care of the Older Person’ & Level 5 ‘Care Skills’.

Applying for the Job

Complete an online form and upload your CV – the application should outline your experience and suitability for the job.  Evidence of previous work experience and studies gives the full picture of your background.  When we have all the information needed to proceed the next stage is to contact you for an interview.

Consider this call to be a mini-interview.  In it we will be assessing your suitability, in particular your communications skills.  You will be asked to complete a full application at this stage as part of the process and bring with you to interview. Some questions might be asked about the on-line form and more documents might be sought to bring to the formal interview (e.g. Valid Passport, Evidence of Permission to work in Ireland, GNIB Card)


Remember to bring everything asked of you on the day – completed application pack and any additional relevant paperwork required by us.  The interview is our chance to get to know you and find out more about your experience and qualifications. It’s also your chance to ask questions about us and the way we work.  It’s important to properly prepare for this stage – read more on things you might consider. It is an essential part of the process for us as we need to get a feel for carers to match with prospective clients.

 Background Checks

If you are successful at interview we move to getting Garda Vetting/ International Police Clearance  – we require a Police Clearance Certification for every country that the candidate has lived in for 6 months or more since the age of 18.  We do reference checks to ensure you’re a good fit for Applewood, and to make sure you have met mandatory minimum educational requirements.  This can take a couple of weeks as it is an external process.  While you wait you can do some online courses which are mandatory for Induction.  We don’t start people without everything being in place to ensure the safety and integrity of our care service.

Ready to Start – Induction

Everyone does formal Induction where you get all relevant information relating to your job, including a copy of the company handbook.  As part of the Induction, you’ll do on-line modules e.g. Infection Control, Safeguarding of Vulnerable Persons.   Before you ever work with clients on your own you must do shadowing with senior carers.  You will also be actively supervised and the office will be contacting you regularly.  They’ll be expecting you to be in contact them too in the early days.

Your Never on your Own

Once you feel you have found your feet, we move from close supervision to routine supervision. Routine supervision is to support you and to keep you motivated and ensure things are going to plan.

We also work in teams and build in fun activities so you can get to know your colleagues.  Caring for others is an immensely rewarding but sometimes challenging career.  We work hard to ensure our people feel supported in their work.  We operate an open-door policy and offer self-care support initiatives, one-to-one coaching and supervision, skills update via training and bulletins.

The first thing you learn with us is you can phone someone 24/7 if you have any concerns.  People are only too happy to help.