Developing the role of the healthcare assistant
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Developing the role of the healthcare assistant

Helen Hancock Post-doctoral research fellow, Centre for Integrated Health Care Research, School for Health, Durham University
Steven Campbell Head of research and development, and head of nursing research and development, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland, Nursing practice, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne

Aim Two studies are described in this article. The first evaluated the preparedness of healthcare assistants (HCAs) to develop a new role and attend an HCA development programme. The second examined the impact of one NHS trust’s HCA development programme on the role of the HCA, on other members of the multidisciplinary team and on patients.

Method The research methodology was qualitative and inductive, using a naturalistic approach in both studies, and a 360 degree model of assessment and feedback in study two. For both studies, the data were analysed following the principles of thematic analysis.

Findings Eight out of 12 HCAs in study one were prepared to attend the programme and to develop their role. Study two indicated a positive but restricted impact of the HCA development programme on the HCAs’ role, that of other healthcare professionals and on patient care.

Conclusion The findings have implications for role development in the NHS and for the development of programmes that aim to address these changes. The HCA development programme has been reviewed and extended, and strategies to promote and support role development in the clinical setting have been introduced in the trust where the research was conducted.

Nursing Standard. 20, 49, 35-41. doi: 10.7748/ns2006.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review