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
$37K-$42K per year
Source: DHB and NZNO, 'Collective Agreement', 2015.
Nursing support and care workers employed by a district health board:
- earn about $37,000 a year when starting out
- earn $39,000 to $42,000 with two to three years' experience.
Pay rates in the private and not-for-profit sectors vary.
Sources: District Health Boards and New Zealand Nurses Organisation, 'Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) 1 March 2015-31 July 2017', 2015.
What you will do
Nursing support and care workers may do some or all of the following, depending on where they work:
- help patients at home with tasks such as showering and dressing
- do housework such as cleaning and ironing
- prepare and serve meals
- ensure patients are taking the correct medication
- 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 hospital 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, including 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 patients 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 patients homes.
What's the job really like?
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 patients 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.
Most employers provide in-house training for those starting out as nursing support and care workers. Many employers also prefer you to have, or be working towards, a relevant qualification such as a National Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Health Assistance).
Any previous criminal convictions need to be declared so that they can be reviewed by prospective employers.
Having a first aid certificate and/or a driver's licence is useful and preferred by some employers.
- Careerforce website - find out about the National Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Health Assistance)
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
NCEA level 1 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English, maths and biology.
Nursing support and care workers need to be:
- patient and tolerant
- organised and responsible
- friendly, helpful and compassionate
- 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
- work with families, the elderly or people with disabilities
- 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?
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 healthcare
- 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 lead to permanent full or part-time work. For your best chances of securing work, approach employers directly and be willing to work in different locations in New Zealand.
Difficulty finding and retaining nursing support and care workers
Employers have difficulty recruiting and retaining nursing support and care workers because:
- low pay means not enough people are attracted to the role, and many leave it after a short time
- the workforce is ageing, 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).
- Grady-Jones, F, healthcare assistant, Pine Haven Cottage, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, August 2017.
- Beck, T, human resources administrator, Ryman Healthcare, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, August 2017.
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 25 August 2017