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  • 17 June 2021
  • 7 min read

Do Healthcare Assistants Get Paid Enough?

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    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
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  • 9611
According to the 2020 HSE pay scale guide, a healthcare assistant (band 1) can receive an annual salary ranging from €34,000 to €40,000

HCAs in Ireland can receive a salary over €20,000 per year. Many employers prefer to pay an hourly rate that ranges from €12 to €13. We look at the duties of an HCA and how much they are paid for them.

Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) play a vital role in Ireland’s healthcare system and the demand for their services will increase as the years go by.

One reason for this is the increasingly elderly population.

In 2006, there were fewer than one million people over the age of 64.

However, this number has now reached an estimated 1.5 million.

If you are interested in becoming an HCA, you need to know that it is a rewarding career that involves helping people and the local community.

While your services are greatly appreciated, you may want to ask: “Do Healthcare Assistants get paid enough?”

This article will explain everything you need to know.

What are the typical duties of an HCA?

A Healthcare Assistant often takes care of service users who need help with their daily living.

Your clients will usually include:

● Infants and children

● The elderly

● The sick

● The disabled

Your duties may vary, but they generally involve:

● Helping patients to eat, change their clothes, go to the bathroom and wash/bathe

● Taking clients on outings and keeping them physically active

● Keeping their beds and living quarters tidy, clean and hygienic

● Continuously observing your clients’ wellbeing, including their physical, mental and emotional status

● Informing your immediate supervisor or senior staff about any potential serious issues regarding a patient

● Accompanying clients when they go out for groceries or pay their bill

If you are working in a clinic or GP surgery, you may have other duties, such as:

● Providing health education to patients, their family and the general public

● Conducting periodic health checks on your assigned clients

● Taking patients’ temperature and pulse, and drawing blood samples and taking them to the lab for processing

● Sterilising equipment

If you are taking care of the elderly, your tasks will include:

● Assisting clients at mealtimes, when they need the bathroom as well as with their other daily routines

● Checking and monitoring their vital signs (body temperature, pulse, blood, respiration and weight)

● Ensuring that their individual healthcare plan is being followed

● Helping them improve or maintain their quality of life

vKeeping them happy by involving them in fun activities

● Comforting them when they are poorly or close to death

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What academic qualifications and training do you need to be an HCA?

Although you don’t need as many qualifications as a nurse, you will still need to undergo rigorous training and obtain relevant certifications.

In Ireland, Healthcare Assistants need to obtain a FETAC  or QQI  Level 5 qualification or the equivalent educational grades.

Your QQI training needs to be with a recognised provider.

If you want to work in home care, you should consider obtaining the following QQI certifications:

● Care skills

● Community health services

● Older person skills

● Healthcare service skills

● Healthcare support

The minimum QQI awards include care skills and older person care.

It is essential that you choose the awards that will prove relevant to your area of interest.

For instance, a QQI in healthcare support may prove insufficient if you want to work in disability services.

You will probably need additional training.

Furthermore, in Ireland, HCAs have to go through the Garda vetting process which can take between two and four weeks to complete.

Where can HCAs work?

If you have the requisite educational qualifications and certifications, you can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

● Clinics

● Hospitals

● Surgeries

● Clients’ homes

● Care or nursing homes

You can also choose to work in either the public or private health sector; in the former, the salaries and benefits are standardised and may depend on seniority.

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Are your tasks similar to those of a nurse?

HCAs and nurses do share many similar duties; they are both involved in providing patient care and building trust.

However, the two jobs differ with regard to:

● Daily tasks

● Level of responsibility

● Required qualifications

When it comes to academic qualifications, HCAs only need a QQI qualification. However, nurses need to obtain a degree.

In addition, HCAs often work under the supervision of a registered nurse.

Furthermore, nurses receive higher salaries compared to HCAs due to their greater responsibilities.

Nevertheless, if they wish, HCAs can pursue further studies to become a nurse.

What are the typical salaries of HCAs in Ireland?

So, do Healthcare Assistants get paid enough?

HCAs in Ireland can receive a salary of more than €20,000 per year.

However, many employers prefer to pay an hourly rate that ranges from €12 to €13.

According to the 2020 HSE pay scale guide, a healthcare assistant (band 1) can receive an annual salary ranging from €34,000 to €40,000.

If you are promoted to a senior level within an HSE setting, your pay and perks will of course increase.

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Are HCAs well paid?

An HCA’s work is challenging and many health experts agree that the salary may not match the workload.

You will be dealing with situations that require uncompromising robustness.

At the same time, however, you need to treat your clients with care and compassion.

Having a good sense of humour is vital as you can use it to connect with your patients. You must also possess keen observational skills so you will be able to notice any sudden changes in your patients’ wellbeing or behaviour.

You will also be expected to work long hours and demanding shifts which is why you will need:

● Considerable emotional intelligence and strength

● An abundance of endurance and stamina

You may have to perform various unpleasant tasks so there is no time for feeling squeamish.

However, whatever you do, you need to make sure that you safeguard your patients’ dignity.

Ultimately, it is not the salary that keeps you going as you face the challenges that arise every single day.

It is the knowledge that you are helping improve your patients’ lives that makes all your work worthwhile.


As an HCA, you will often face challenging situations and be expected to make tough decisions.

You will also need to be able to treat your patients with empathy and dignity.

Once qualified, there will be a whole host of employment opportunities as nearly every healthcare facility is in need of your services.

However, it is not the salary or benefits that will attract you to this profession, it is the belief that you will be making a difference to people’s lives, especially the elderly and disabled.

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About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
  • 0
  • 9611

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