• 27 April 2021
  • 9 min read

Healthcare Assistants: What Soft Skills Do You Need?

  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Richard Gill
    • Shakilah Millian
  • 0
  • 191
Play video: "just some of the skills that relate to being a Healthcare Assistant and what you will need to help you through the job"

In this video Laura outlines the most valuable personality traits to have to be able to succeed as a Healthcare Assistant and manage the challenges the role presents.

Topics Covered In This Video

What Are Soft Skills?

Teamwork And Collaborative Working

Communication And Listening



Sense Of Humour

Coping Mechanisms

Time Management



What Are Soft Skills?

Hey everybody, welcome to today's video.

Today's video is all about soft skills that you need to be a Healthcare Assistant.

Well, what skills do you need basically? So what soft skills do you need?

In fact, what does that even mean? Scratching of head moment.

Well, soft skills means the skills you have that you can't really learn,

You can educate yourself on some skills and you can say, oh. I'm very skilled in this because, well, I learnt it.

But the soft skills that we have are what makes us our self.

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Some people call them traits, personality traits, quirks, but what do you need to be a Healthcare Assistant?

Well, I've got my trusty notebook.

So let's get started. (If you want to know what qualifications and hard skills you need, go to this article and this article.)

Teamwork And Collaborative Working

First one that I can think of is teamwork or collaborative working.

Some people call it a mixture of things, but team working, it's a skill that involves listening and talking and working collectively as a group, getting on with other people, understanding where some people are not so good, where some people are so good.

What's their skills in this area too?

Sometimes we need a team leader and maybe that's not you.

Maybe that is you.

But in a Healthcare Assistant job, team working often means working together to help the patient. It can also mean working with the nurses, also very important, and even working as a team with the patient, also very important. And it's about knowing who leads the nurse or the patient needs to suggest what they think, and you following or suggesting ideas too and working together to find a solution to a problem.

Communication And Listening

Listening is a really valid skill, an important skill, and it's not always the best for some people.

Listening to relatives is often easier than listening to a patient.

And similarly, being able to talk to a patient or hearing them more to the point, can be really challenging too sometimes because they've got something over them to help them breathe.

They may have a throat condition.

They may even not be able to talk or have difficulties talking anyway. Sometimes it's really hard to even have a conversation with a patient, purely because they cannot hear you.

They don't have hearing aids, or they're at home or they just can't hear at all.

And so a skill that you might learn, which would be a hard skill so to speak, might even be sign language, which I've known people to learn for their healthcare job and it's been really, really helpful but listening and communicating is really, really important and something that people will look out for for you to say and demonstrate as an interview.

There's lots of people that you might even need to talk to or listen to or communicate with.

And this can not only mean just verbally but typed too.

The way you communicate with patients, staff, potentially even other residents or other patients, and even next of kins, is really important.


You need to be flexible.

Flexibility is something that we're not all very good at but being flexible is really important.

Not only because you might be doing something and then suddenly have to go, oh, hang on, this patient needs CPR, right, I'm gonna have to leave you because a patient's dying.

Not only that, but in flexible in terms of your working patterns, your shifts.

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You often might need to be able to do one day at short notice otherwise the ward might be short staffed, which puts patients at risk.

If you're gonna be working in a hospital, and doing shifts, you're gonna need to be flexible. This is a skill that can take time to practice.

And more than that, it takes a hell of a lot of getting used to, but it is worth in the end.


Having an empathetic understanding quality, this is really important.

Patients in the hospital are very vulnerable and they rely on you a lot more than you realize.

They are in your sole hands and they require support.

And sometimes that support is as simple as a held hand or a little hug around the shoulders.

Patients are at their worst and sometimes their best, but often their worst in hospital.

And that really needs to be considered.

You've also sometimes got the disappointing times where a patient might not make it or a patient's relative outside of the hospital dies unexpectedly and they're stuck inside and didn't get to say goodbye.

It's really, really difficult and really hard, especially if you've also got to tell them some bad news.

So being empathetic is really important.

Sense Of Humour

On the other hand, having a good sense of humor or understanding sometimes that patient's humor is very different to yours.

The older the patient, sometimes, the more direct they will be.

And their humor might be old-school.

Your humor with colleagues to keep them going in the rough times.

Your humor with patients to help them laugh in what can be quite a dark situation, dry humor, wet humor, where there's loads of different types.

The main time though is your own sense of humor and coping mechanism for some people.

Coping Mechanisms

Some of the time, not through any fault of the patient, you'll actually feel quite insulted by something that a patient has said, and that wasn't supposed to be an insult, it's purely because they live in a different timeframe to you and what might have been acceptable then isn't maybe acceptable now.

And you can say that to them but often it just gets swept under the rug and you laugh it off.

Now maybe that's more of a coping mechanism and a skill that can be really important to have, but at the same time, there is the line.

If somebody says or does something inappropriate and they know exactly what they're doing, then you can get other people involved.

Time Management

Time management and actually working under pressure is really important.

It's a skill that again, we build on and it's something that school teaches us little of.

But your ability to cope under pressure situations, is something that will vary a lot between your colleagues and yourself. It's important that we can manage our time so that we get everybody looked at and seen to in an appropriate and quick fashion, as fast as possible.

But also so that we make sure that we're not late or we're not running behind, or genuinely, that we actually show up to work.

It's really important that if we're put on a roster, that you show up because a lot depends on you.

And a nurse does not need a stressful situation of trying to find somebody else because you didn't show up.

Obviously if you're ill, different story but having that time management skill and being able to work under quite significant pressure, is something that you will develop.

But it's very important to have from the outset.


Finally, you've got the treats of being responsible.

Responsible for yourself and your actions, and more of the point your patients.

Being responsible is a really important quality and trait to have and something that again, they will look for at an interview.

Knowing when to ask and knowing when you can take this in your own hands, knowing when you need help but also knowing when you think you've got this but making sure you think, you get it right.

Now this is not expected of you the first day you start but these are skills that you will progress and you will develop yourself, but also skills that are really good to have an idea of and have an understanding of.

Being able to be responsible is important to make sure that you are not causing damage or danger to anybody else.

And we really don't want that.

Time management and responsibility actually tie hand in hand. If you're responsible, you show up to work on time.


Those are just some of the skills that relate to being a Healthcare Assistant and what you will need to help you through the job.

Now you don't have to have all of them.

And I guarantee nobody will, but a idea or development of some is really important and something that will help you with your career progression.

That's it for this video, feel free to go onto the website for more amazing videos just like this one, to give you some helpful tips.

There's loads on there, honestly.

Thank you so much for watching and I will see you guys in the next video, bye.

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Do you have any questions about working as a HCA?

Ask Laura questions below

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  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist

About the author

  • Laura
    Occupational Therapist

Laura worked as a Healthcare Assistant for the NHS before training and finding employment as an Occupational Therapist.

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