Last updated: 09.02.13

Healthcare assistants 'need proper training'

It is crucial for healthcare staff to be fully trained before they have direct contact with elderly people, as a lack of education among hospital workers is putting the lives of these elderly patients at risk.

According to Dr Peter Carter, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, vulnerable individuals are not receiving the care they require due to the fact institutions are relying too heavily upon the services of healthcare assistants, the Telegraph reports.

Approximately 300,000 of these employees are employed by the health service and as they are unregulated and do not need to have qualifications, concerns are rising about the safety of older people. Furthermore, six years ago, there were two nurses employed for every assistant, but now the ratio is closer to one to one.

Dr Carter claimed most healthcare assistants receive less training for their positions than shop workers do, adding that at stores like John Lewis and Marks & Spencer employees have "rigorous training" and are showed how to do the job before they go on a till.

Meanwhile, in most older people's wards, he said most of the staff are not nurses and "most of them won't have had as much as an hour's training".

For healthcare assistants to thrive in their role and avoid embarrassing situations that they are unable to cope with, it may be necessary for bosses to boost training standards and turn towards more innovative methods of educating their staff.

Instead of workers being willingly neglectful, they are without the means to properly fulfil some of their job description, but online learning facilities could be the answer to this. Where the training can be accessed in employees' own time, it is more efficient and will not eat into a busy daily routine.

Training providers such as Virtual College are willing to provide healthcare leaders with e-learning modules and the institution's Lean Healthcare Academy offers teaching in a wide range of areas, such as Problem Solving and Process Flow Analysis.