What is Support Work NHS, Description + Job Roles.

Get an inside look at what it takes to be a support worker in the NHS – understand job roles, descriptions and find out how you can make a difference!

Support Worker - CVLocum

Working in healthcare can be a rewarding career, filled with meaningful actions and personal growth. One of the many roles that are available in the NHS is that of a Healthcare Support Worker (HSW). This position entails numerous responsibilities that affect the healthcare system and the wellbeing of patients.

In this blog post, we will provide an inside look into what a support worker does in the NHS. We will also highlight the different types of support professionals in healthcare, discuss where they work, their main duties, training, and career development. So, let’s dive in!

Difference between Healthcare Support Worker and Healthcare Assistant:

The NHS has various support roles in healthcare, including Healthcare Support Workers (HSWs) and Healthcare Assistants (HCAs). While both a healthcare assistant and support worker might seem similar, there is a slight difference in their roles. According to the NHS, Healthcare assistants are required to have completed a focused program of basic care training. As a result, they are authorised to perform a broad range of straightforward procedures. HSWs, on the other hand, do not have any specific training requirements, and their responsibilities vary depending on their areas of work.

As a Healthcare Support worker or assistant, you may have similar responsibilities across different healthcare settings. However, it’s important to understand that your day-to-day tasks and level of autonomy can vary based on your unique qualifications and experience. Also, keep in mind that there are many opportunities for growth and career advancement, such as becoming a Senior Healthcare Support Worker or specialising in a particular area of healthcare support through additional qualifications.

What are the different types of support professionals in healthcare?

The support roles in healthcare are assorted and cover a range of qualifications and responsibilities. A healthcare professional who provide assistance to patients can be categorised as:

Healthcare Support Workers
These individuals provide supervised care and support to patients/service users, assisting with daily activities, vital sign monitoring, maintaining safety, monitoring patients information and basic health checks.

Mental Healthcare Support Workers
Assist individuals with mental health conditions, working closely with professionals to implement care plans, facilitate therapeutic activities, and provide emotional support to an anxious patient.

– Learning Disability Support Worker
Provide compassionate care and support to individuals with learning disabilities, assisting with daily living activities, promoting independence and social integration, and facilitating educational and recreational participation.

– Maternity Support Workers
Assist women throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal period. They support midwives and healthcare professional in providing care, assisting during labor, and offering postnatal care and advice.

– Dementia Support Workers
Specialise in caring for individuals with dementia, assisting with personal care, engaging in therapeutic activities, and providing emotional support with mental health and daily living assistance.

– Rehabilitation Healthcare Support Workers
Aid individuals in their recovery from illness, injury, or surgery. They collaborate with healthcare professional, facilitating rehabilitation programs, assisting with exercises, and promoting patient independence.

– Palliative Care Support Workers
Provide comprehensive care and support to individuals with life-limiting illnesses. They collaborate closely with palliative care teams, providing basic health checks, offering social and physical activities, mental health and helping patients and their families in end-of-life situations.

What locations can you find support workers?

Support workers in healthcare can work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and community healthcare centers. They may also work in patients’ homes or residential care homes, or even on a hospital ship providing medical care for military personnel.

Regardless of the environment, support workers play an essential role in helping patients receive the care they require.

What are the main duties of support professionals?

One of the essential responsibilities of support professionals lies in helping patients who require additional care. They may assist them with washing, dressing, feeding, and mobility. They may also clean and organise healthcare environments, transfer patients between wards, or collect and monitor patients’ vital signs. These tasks may sound minor, but they can drastically change helping patients quality of life and provide comfort and safety.

Find Examples Below:

  • Assisting with Personal Care

  • Monitoring and Recording

  • Providing Emotional Support

  • Assisting with Mobility and Exercise

  • Supporting Medication Management

  • Supporting Rehabilitation

  • Providing Practical Support

  • Facilitating Activities

  • Assisting with Documentation

  • Collaborating with Healthcare Professionals

Training and career development:

Education and career development are important for anyone working in healthcare, including support roles. While there may not be any formal qualifications required for an entry-level HSW position, training and continuing professional development can help individuals advance in their careers and earn higher wages.

The NHS provides various training courses and learning opportunities to support staff, including apprenticeships, e-learning modules, and on-the-job learning.

Support assistant key skills:

Support workers must have a broad range of skills to be effective in their roles and progress in their careers. Strong communication skills, a compassionate and empathetic approach, the ability to work well under pressure, and good organisational and teamwork skills are some key competencies required for healthcare support roles.

Find below more examples:

  • Patience and Flexibility

  • Observational Skills

  • Problem-Solving Skills

  • Respect for Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity

  • Confidentiality and Professionalism

  • Physical and Emotional Resilience

Entry requirements and skills needed:

Working as a Healthcare Support Worker can be a fulfilling and satisfying role for individuals who believe in making a positive difference to people’s lives. While there are no formal qualifications required to enter this career, support workers’ role requires several skills, including critical-thinking, effective communication, and teamwork. Entry requirements for HSWs include a strong work ethic, a caring nature, and a willingness to work as part of a team.


In conclusion, the role of a Healthcare Support Worker is an essential one that plays a crucial part in providing care and comfort to people in need. They work alongside various other healthcare professionals to ensure that patients receive the best care and attention possible.

HSWs and other support workers in healthcare can progress and develop their careers through on-the-job roles and training programs. If you are interested in pursuing a fulfilling career in healthcare and want to make positive contributions to society, gaining a Healthcare Support Worker role in the NHS might just be the right decision for you.

Discover exciting support worker job opportunities in your local area by browsing our job board. Don’t miss out on the chance to advance your career – check out our open vacancies today!