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  • 03 June 2021
  • 12 min read

The Care Assistant Role: Explained

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    • Mat Martin
    • Matt Farrah
    • Richard Gill
    • Shakilah Millian
    • Frankie Lyttle
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Play video: "It is patient's choice and you must give your patient a choice."

Former Care Assistant, Claire Carmichael, outlines the role and responsibilities of a Care Assistant jobs, alongside some tips and insights from her time in the job.

Topics covered in this article


Administering Medication

Personal Care

Feeding & Helping Patients To Eat


Documentation & Paperwork

Meal Charts & Fluid Charts

Social Activities & Pressure Area Care

Evening Meals & Wind Down Time

Getting Patients Ready For Bed

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Hi, everyone, welcome back to the vlog.

My name is Claire Carmichael and I'm General Practice Nurse.

And as some of you already know, I used to be a Care Assistant.

So this video is all about what sort of things you do out there as a Care Assistant.

Administering Medication

So in my very first Care Assistant role, we were all trained to do medications.

And this is not necessarily prescribing or anything like that.

These are already prescribed, they're already there in what they called blister packs for the patient.

I'll put it here so you can see what a blister pack looks like.

And we just went off what they called the MAs chart.

So medication administration chart, we would go down the chart for each patient, we would check the name, date of birth, right time, right dose, right medication, right person, all of that, the five Rs.

And we would give the medication, so that's what I did as a Care Assistant.

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Personal Care

And then we would go on to help get patients up and ready for the day.

So if people can't physically do personal care, so like washing and dressing, brushing their teeth, eating and drinking.

We would go round and do that in the morning for them.

If they didn't wanna get up, then that's fine.

We would just let them rest.

If that's what they wanted to do, there's no time limit on what time you should get patients up.

But I know some people like to get them up early but it is patient's choice and you must give your patient a choice.

And what time they wanna get up is what time they're getting up.

But then I've also worked in another Nursing Home, where they had Nurses who gave all the medications.

The very first home I worked at was a Residential Home, so we didn't have Nurses.

So we were the people that were trained to give them medications, but Nursing Homes, they have Nurses there.

So they do all of them little bits, so you don't have to.

So as a Care Assistant, you will always provide personal care for your patient.

This includes washing and dressing, includes dentures and keeping them clean.

Nothing worse than going in and seeing a patient that their teeth haven't been cleaned at all.

They can't do it themselves and it can't be comfortable for the patient and it's gonna cause all sorts of problems.

So please, please, please look after your patient's hygiene, dental hygiene for me, thank you.

So like we just briefly spoke about, meal times as well.

Feeding & Helping Patients To Eat

So if your patient can't physically eat and drink themselves, you will be that person that helps them.

So you've got to be more mindful about the speed that you're going at, how much food you're putting on the fork or the spoon that you're feeding them with and just go at a nice, steady pace that they wanna go with.

Their facial expressions will very much tell you if you're going way too fast or way too slow.

Trust me, but most of all, make sure you're communicating with your patient, ask them if they can physically speak to you and respond, then ask them the question.

You know, am I going too fast?

Am I going too slow, is it cool enough?

Is it warm enough?

All those sort of questions, you know, don't leave your patient out.

This is a really nice experience actually, to help people.

And it's just really nice to bond as well over meal times as well and get to know your patient a little bit better.

So once your patients are up, they're dressed, they've had the medications, they've had their food, everything's going good, then you will go round and do some cleaning.

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This is what we used to do.

I think some places do have their own cleaners.

So we would go round and just empty the bins. We would do the laundry, we would make the beds.

We'd have a little clean around quickly, hoovering, all the little bits just to make the room fresh and comfortable for your patient.

At the end of the day, this is their home.

And if they can't physically do it, you are gonna have to help them to do it.

And yeah, I used to love it.

I used to love going around and making the beds.

It's just really, really nice.

I really liked it.

Documentation & Paperwork

And then once all of that is out the way, you all sit down, will write your documentation on your patient.

So you'll go and you'll get their folders.

We used to have folders.

Some places might work on a computer based system now, or iPads or something like that.

It's different everywhere.

So just check with each place what they do.

But we used to have a big cabinet, like a locked cabinet where they would keep everyone's files.

So we would just pick out the patient we need and we'd go to the documentation and we'd write what we've done for that patient.

How they're feeling, we would comment on any skin problems they might have, any little things.

Just everything goes, my documentation used to be like nearly a full page because I used to document so, so much for patients.

But if it's not documented, it didn't happen.

So it's really important to get all of the information in there and down as soon as you can.

Sometimes you don't do the documentation till the afternoon because you physically haven't got time and that's okay too.

As long as you can sit down and do it by the end of the day, you'll be fine.

And that is all the morning stuff over with.

Meal Charts & Fluid Charts

So then you will have your lunchtime, you'll have your lunch break as normal, whatever time of day.

It could be 12, could be one, could be two, just depends how busy the day is, what you're doing.

And obviously you've got a lot of people to have lunch and you sort of alternate between you all.

So yeah, so you'll have your own lunch, but then you will be back to help your patients with their lunch.

So you'll help give out the meals, the drinks, you will assist with feeding and drinking.

Again, if they can't physically do it for themselves, you're gonna be there to help them.

I used to really love actually doing meal times. It was always such a nice thing to do.

I don't know why, it was like everyone's together.

And it was just nice, I really liked it.

Some patients will stay in their rooms for lunchtime or dinnertime and that's okay.

Some people just like to do that.

Some people are what they class as bed bound.

They will have their lunch and their meals in their bed.

So just make sure that they're sat up right, no choking hazards, come on guys.

That sort of thing to be mindful of when you're doing that.

Some will be on a meal chart to document their breakfast, their lunch, their snacks, the dinner or tea or evening meal, super.

Anything that eating has to be documented, not everyone is on this.

It's only more for people that have got more like malnourishment or maybe they've got sickness and diarrhoea.

So you have to measure the in and out goings to make sure that they're getting enough hydration and nutrition and all of that jazz.

So yeah, it's really important.

And fluid charts, of course, with the meal charts is fluid charts.

So a lot of residents will always be on a fluid chart because some patients just don't drink enough, no matter how hard you try, they will not want to drink.

So it's really important that you document these things and put declined if they don't want anything and you will document all of their fluids and their outgoings as well.

So if they're going to the toilet, if they've had the bowels open, if they've vomited, like a said, anything that comes out and must be documented.

But again, not all patients will be on this.

It's only certain patients that have this.

So yes, that is your job to sort of go down and fill it out.

But also the Nurse, if you have Nurses there, I think the Nurses do that side of things.

I think they do all the monitoring and things like that.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's both roles to do it.

So if you've given a patient a drink, you would document it and then the Nurse will have to check all the charts are done, if that makes sense.

So yeah, it's different everywhere.

Social Activities & Pressure Area Care

And then after lunch, some patients will need like pressure area care.

Some patients will need their catheters changing, their dressings doing.

Some patients will need assistance to go to the toilet.

So after lunch, that's the where you start doing these sort of things and going back and rotating people for pressure area relief and making sure people are standing and walking enough.

And also, there's a lot of activities that happen after lunch as well.

So that period between like two and four-ish is where they sort of have someone come in sometimes, or they'll have music on or they'll play bingo or they'll do different games just to keep people active.

All these little things sort of tend to happen in the afternoon, sometimes in the morning as well, because the morning's so busy with everything else, they do tend to leave it to the afternoon.

But at the same time, stuff does happen in the morning.

And the afternoon, I always found were the social sort of aspect of the care homes.

So it was a time when it was a bit calmer, to go round, get to know your patients, you talk to them, get the teas out, get snacks in between the lunch and the tea time, evening meals, that sort of thing.

So the afternoon was always a more social aspect from where I used to work. It might be different elsewhere.

I don't know, but that's just the way it was where I worked, also day trips as well.

So sometimes there'll be day trips planned to garden centers, to safari parks, to zoos, to where else have I been?

Shopping, to the beach, loads of different places.

Like there would always be something going on every day.

Evening Meals & Wind Down Time

And as part of your role as a Care Assistant, if there's people that need assistance with walking or sitting or eating and drinking, you would be that person that goes with them and has a great day out and gets paid for it, it's amazing.

And then later on, we will have the evening meal.

So again, you will help during that mealtime process.

And then after the evening meal, people sort of just settle down a bit, they'll normally be something on telly to watch.

Sometimes there's a bit of a fight going on what people wanna watch.

Whether they wanna watch Eastenders, whether they wanna watch football, whether they wanna watch some other sports.

It just, yeah, I always go by the overall majority.

Put your hands up if you wanna watch this, this or this, or sometimes a film.

Or again, sometimes there's an evening entertainment on, depending on where you are, depending on the lockdown rules as well, don't forget.

But the evening's more are wind down time.

So people will just rest and digest all of the food, just relax for the evening, read their books, do crosswords, whatever they wanna do.

And then at the end of your day, you will help people go to bed, if they can't physically do it themselves.

People are amazing, they'll just go off.

They'll wash, they'll dress, they'll do anything.

Getting Patients Ready For Bed

But there are a lot of residents that can't physically do this.

So you need to be that person that helps them to get washed and get dressed, ready for bed, get them into bed sometimes.

Sometimes you might be using different mobility aids.

You might be using like a hoist. So just be mindful of that as well.

So when you're helping people to bed, what aids are they gonna use and plan your evening.

And then once all of that is done, the night staff should be coming on and it's home time for you guys.

And then you do it all again the next day.

So that is it from me.

I hope this has been helpful if you've never worked in care before and you're looking into what sort of things are involved.

I hope it's been a little bit helpful for you, but like I said, this is gonna differ everywhere you go.

Like from home to home, they all do something different and the routine's different and they might have different staff to do different things.

So this is just more of an overview of the kinds of things that I did, but you might not necessarily do all of these things.

It might be limited where you are or you might do more.

Who knows, but yeah, I hope it's been useful.

And thank you so, so much as always for joining this video today and I should see you next time. You can also read articles on how to become a senior care assistant.

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About the author

I am a Registered Nurse with over 12 years healthcare experience including: elderly care, orthopaedics, sexual health / family planning, qualified GP nurse, transgender healthcare and now in my new role as an assistant lecturer (as of Nov 2022). I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

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