Patient Care Assistant

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2019: > 50,000
Median weekly earnings: < $920
Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
While nursing staff are focusing on various clinical situations in health care services (hospitals, nursing homes), patient care assistants are busy undertaking various duties to also help ensure that these services run efficiently.

There are currently around 6,200 personal care and nursing assistants employed in South Australia. Employment is largely part-time and most work in the health and community services industry. Most persons in this occupation are female and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has an older age profile with close to half of workers aged 45 years or older.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Patient Care Assistant

Accredited (Award)

  • Under the direction and supervision of nurses and patient support services managers, patient care assistants undertake a range of duties which support clinical care. These include cleaning, catering and traditional orderly duties, for example, patient movement and transporting patients to appointments and procedures within a hospital. It is an assistant's responsibility to transfer patients safely and to ensure that patients are accompanied by any relevant medical documentation and their personal belongings. Warren, a patient care assistant, employed by one of the metropolitan's major hospitals says that patients may be transferred from anywhere within the hospital or nursing home including the grounds areas. Patient care assistants are also required to assist in emergencies. A Code Blue emergency may involve transferring a patient or even a staff member who may have collapsed in the hospital grounds, for example.

    Helping and Community ServicesInfluencing and Personal ContactMedical

  • Of those currently employed in this occupation 37% have either a Certificate III or IV, 5% have either an Advanced Diploma or a Diploma and 42% have no post school qualifications.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.

    SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

  • In South Australia, patient care assistants are employed by most metropolitan hospitals and many regional hospitals. Job descriptions may vary slightly between health services in the metropolitan and regional areas and are dependant on the nature of the hospital, for example roles may differ in a teaching hospital compared to a secondary hospital. Patient care assistants may also find employment at nursing homes throughout the State. According to industry representatives, this is a stable workforce that experiences a relatively low turnover. Only a small number of full-time positions become available each year. Because of training opportunities, the casual staff already employed by the various health services are usually successful in applying for and gaining these positions.

    With experience and further training, patient care assistants can become enrolled nurses or registered nurses.

  • These staff also assist nurses with patient repositioning and handling, and undertake restocking duties. They also collect and deliver urgent supply items, medication, specimens and x-ray reports as required by the nursing, medical or allied health staff. Patient care assistants work under the direction and supervision of nurses and patient support services managers at all times as part of a team providing ancillary support to nursing, medical and allied health staff ensuring patients' health needs are met. According to their Enterprise Agreement, these assistants are known as Patient Care Assistants. However, depending on the service that employs them they may also be known as Hospital Services Assistants or Patient Support Assistants. In a hospital environment, patient care assistants are classified as patient support services employees.

  • Due to this being a largely service role, patient care assistants should naturally have a caring disposition. Also, being able to work in a team environment, being well organised and able to prioritise to competently handle the range of assigned duties is essential for these assistants.

    They also need to be physically fit and are able to lift heavy objects. They also must have a commitment to the rights of elderly and disabled people to live dignified lives.

  • Cleanliness is obviously a very high priority in health care services due to the variety of illnesses being treated and the risk of cross infection, particularly when patients are at greater risk. Patient care assistants clean patient and clinical equipment, and clean and make all discharge and transfer beds to accommodate patient turnaround. A patient care assistant's other cleaning duties include maintaining the cleanliness of ward areas including showers, toilets, shower chairs, commodes and shower trolleys, the removal of rubbish and linen to collection points and attending to spillages as required.

    Patient care assistants also ensure an adequate supply of non-pharmaceutical items, and restock intravenous trolleys and medical consumables to agreed levels as directed by nursing staff. Its really satisfying because you have the opportunity to help so many people but people don't realise the pressure that patient care assistants are under. The range of duties is extensive, and you must be able to follow instructions and work well as part of a team. If you haven't got great stamina then you may not be able to keep up with the demands of this job.'

    Aside from those duties already mentioned, patient care assistants also; Collect food trolleys, distribute meals to patients, and collect trays and return food trolleys back to collection points. Prepare patients' environment for meal service. Serve patients' meals and beverages. Report damaged or malfunctioning furniture or equipment to the nurse in charge. Participate in ward and team meetings.- Liaise regularly with ward nurse coordinators and patient support services managers on matters relating to workload and equipment requirements.