Nursing Support and Care Worker
Kaiāwhina Tapuhi/Kaimahi Atawhai
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Nursing support and care workers provide assistance, support and care to people in a variety of health, welfare and community settings, and in their homes.
Nursing support and care workers usually earn between
$35K-$40K per year
Source: DHB/NZ Nurses Organisation Collective Agreement 2012 -2015.
Current job prospects
If you work for a district health board you will receive the following:
- Nursing support and care workers starting out earn about $35,000 a year.
- Those with two to three years' experience usually earn $39,000 to $40,000.
Pay rates in the private and not-for profit sectors vary from organisation to organisation.
Sources: District Health Boards/New Zealand Nurses Organisation, 'Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA)', 1 March 2012 - 28 February 2015.
What you will do
Nursing support and care workers may do some or all of the following, depending on where they work:
- help clients at home with tasks such as showering and dressing
- do housework such as cleaning and ironing
- prepare and serve meals
- clean and prepare medical equipment and instruments
- take patients' electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, samples and fluid balances
- help patients with rehabilitation in areas such as social skills and walking
- transfer patients between wards and departments using wheelchairs, stretchers or moveable beds
- deliver and collect patient files and x-rays, and linen, rubbish, infectious waste, specimens and equipment
- assist with patient discharges.
Skills and knowledge
Nursing support and care workers need to have knowledge of:
- basic patient care skills
- the needs of the elderly, families, children, and people with disabilities
- hospital procedures
- health and safety procedures, and issues such as storage of dangerous goods
- first aid skills, including ability to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- proper lifting techniques, or how to use the appropriate hoists.
Nursing support and care workers:
- do shift work, including during evenings and weekends
- usually work in clients' homes, hospitals, clinics, rest homes or nursing homes
- may be required to lift and move patients, or do housework, and can be on their feet for most of the day. They may also be exposed to diseases and come into contact with bodily fluids
- may travel locally to clients' homes.
What's the job really like?
Karen McIntyre - Nursing Support and Care Worker
Nursing support and care worker Karen McIntyre says most of her time is involved with patient care, working under direct supervision of a registered nurse in a care-pair system. "We are often the patient's first point of contact if they need anything. If it's something that we are unable to do, then we go to the nurse."
A job that has changed over the years
Karen comments that nursing support and care workers nowadays have a lot more responsibility than they did 12 years ago when she started in the job.
“There used to be things we weren't allowed to do and now they are our main jobs. I do ECGs [electrocardiographs] where the electrical conduction system of a patient's heart is traced, and things like fluid balances and food charts. I also keep track of all the supplies and machine maintenance."
A close-knit group of workers
Karen enjoys the challenges her job offers, but says it’s also good to have the companionship of her colleagues. "We have a really neat team here. You need to have that in this job.”
- Visiting clients in their homes.
- Getting experience in patient care, which can be the first step to a nursing career.
- Doing physically demanding work.
- Getting a relatively low wage.
To become a nursing support and care worker you need to have at least three years of secondary education.
Most employers provide in-house training for those starting in the job, and some employers prefer you to have, or be working towards, a relevant qualification such as the National Certificate in Health, Disability, and Aged Support (Health Assistants).
Any previous criminal convictions need to be declared so that they can be reviewed by prospective employers.
You may also need a first aid certificate and/or a driver's licence.
- Careerforce website - find out about the National Certificate in Health, Disability and Aged Support (Health Assistants)
Useful subjects include English, maths and biology.
Nursing support and care workers need to be:
- organised and responsible
- friendly, patient and helpful
- able to follow instructions
- able to relate well to people from a range of cultures
- skilled at listening and communicating.
Useful experience for nursing support and care workers includes:
- work in rest homes and nursing homes
- hospital work
- other work with families, the elderly or people with disabilities
- any work that involves helping people, or customer service
- first aid experience
- cleaning jobs and housekeeping work.
Nursing support and care workers need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, with no back problems, as the work can be physically demanding.
Find out more about training
- Careerforce ITO
- firstname.lastname@example.org - www.cssito.org.nz
- New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO)
- (04) 499 9533 - email@example.com - www.nzno.org.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of nursing support and care workers remained fairly stable in recent years.
Growing demand for nursing support and care workers in the community
Demand for nursing support and care workers in the community is growing rapidly, while demand is declining in hospitals. This is due to:
- more people wanting to look after their family/whānau at home
- patients staying in hospital for shorter periods, and needing assistance while they recover at home
- an ageing population and more people requiring help around the home
- the Government's commitment to encouraging more elderly people to remain in their own homes.
Job opportunities that do come up in hospitals are usually casual positions, but can sometimes lead to permanent full or part-time work.
Difficulty retaining and recruiting people
Employers are reporting difficulty recruiting and retaining people in this role because:
- low pay means not enough people are attracted to the role, and many leave it after a short time
- an ageing workforce, with many nursing support and care workers reaching retirement.
Types of employers varied
Most nursing support and care workers are employed by:
- hospitals and nursing homes
- private companies providing home care
- specialist providers of care, such as those that provide care for spinal injury patients
- church and welfare-based trusts
- home support services run by district health boards (DHBs).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Weston, K, professional nursing adviser, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2011.
Progression and specialisations
Nursing support and care workers may progress to work as registered nurses after completing a Bachelor of Nursing. They may also move into administrative or managerial roles in the community and in hospitals or private health care organisations.
Nursing support and care workers may specialise in:
- care of the elderly
- care of people with disabilities
- medical assistance in hospitals
- community care services.
Last updated 2 June 2017