What Types of Healthcare Assistants are in high demand in Ireland?

The demand for healthcare assistants (HCAs) in Ireland is soaring, with shortages of trained healthcare assistant staff across the board. This trend is predicted to grow in the next 13 years. From the elderly to mental health care, HCAs have a vital role in administering valuable patient care while providing indispensable help to doctors and nurses.

HCAs are important team members across the private and public healthcare sectors. In this article, we look at the roles and responsibilities of healthcare assistants and the sectors where they are in the highest demand.


Elderly Care

The healthcare industry is growing rapidly and a larger ageing demographic has increased the demand for elderly healthcare in residential homes and the community. The range of available services for the ageing population in Ireland is improving and will continue to develop to match their needs. There is a constant demand for HCA staff in residential and nursing homes.


What are the roles of healthcare assistants in elderly care homes?

HCAs in residential settings for the elderly have a variety of duties depending on the size of the care home and the needs of the patients. In general, their duties include:

  • Helping elderly people to get washed and dressed.
  • Toileting patients and providing basic mobility assistance.
  • Lifting and handling.
  • Serving meals and snacks.
  • Interacting with patients.
  • Accompanying patients on walks and organised day trips.
  • Organising and involving patients in activities.
  • Updating patients’ family members on their progress.
  • Organising laundry.



There has been a rise in the need for healthcare providers to support older people who wish to continue living at home. There’s now a range of home care package schemes on offer with healthcare assistant job opportunities widely available.


What are the responsibilities of home care HCAs?

The responsibilities of home care HCAs vary and range from making daily call-in visits to providing full-time live-in care to patients. Home healthcare assistants provide practical and emotional support to help them live as independently as possible. Duties generally include:

  • Personal care.
  • Assistance with washing, showering and bathing.
  • Help with getting dressed.
  • Continence and toileting assistance.
  • Simple meal and snack preparation.
  • Administering medication.
  • Logging visits and recording information.
  • Checking and stocking food and toiletry supplies.
  • Booking appointments.
  • Arranging transport.


What certifications do you need to work as a HCA with elderly patients?

Essential health certs: QQI / Fetac Level 5

Relevant health certs: Patient Manual Handling| Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults| PPE| Amric Infection Prevention and Control| Amric Hand Hygiene| Medication management.


Why work with elderly patients?

Working with elderly patients is a rewarding job and makes a huge difference in the lives of patients. Consider the reasons below to help you decide whether elderly healthcare is a role you would consider:

  • It helps elderly people enjoy the latter stages of life.
  • You develop close relationships with older people and their families.
  • You learn a lot from older people.
  • It can be fun.
  • Patients will really appreciate your care and company.
  • Shifts can be flexible and fit around your commitments.
  • You will have opportunities to learn about dementia care, palliative care and end-of-life care.
  • Career progression opportunities are good with pathways into nursing.


Who else do HCAs work with?

HCAs work with patients of any age who are having difficulties managing daily activities or tasks. Some of their clients might include:


People with disabilities

A significant number of disabled people were affected by the pandemic. Their risks of infection were higher and a high percentage of people with disabilities were left vulnerable to respiratory infections. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many people with disabilities lost the support of friends and families and experienced more isolation.

Today the need is still pressing. HCAs might work with disabled people in hospitals, residential homes or in their private homes. Duties include:

  • Generally helping patients with daily living tasks.
  • Serving food and snacks.
  • Washing and dressing patients.
  • Lifting and handling patients.
  • Helping disabled patients to access information on benefit entitlement.
  • Finding out about support groups and social activities in the community.
  • Providing information on good health and hygiene measures.
  • Helping disabled people to find work and learning opportunities.
  • Organising transport.


What certifications do you need to work as a HCA with disabled patients?

Essential health certs: QQI / Fetac Level 5

Relevant health certs: Patient Manual Handling| Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults| Supporting People with Physical Disabilities Certificate| Amric Infection Prevention and Control| Amric Hand Hygiene| PPE


Why work with disabled people?

Working with disabled people is a highly rewarding job that helps people overcome some of the challenges and barriers to opportunities that they often face. Consider the reasons below to help you decide if it could be a valid career choice for you:

  • You provide patients with a vital connection to the outside world.
  • It has plenty of variety.
  • It’s a hands-on job.
  • Every day is different.
  • There are good career progression opportunities with pathways into nursing.
  • There’s plenty of work.
  • You can balance shifts and achieve a good work-life balance.


Mental Health

The global pandemic generated a marked increase in mental health referrals over the last two years with a rise in patients suffering from anxiety and depression. The current cost of living crisis is putting people under a lot of stress and mental health services are in higher demand than ever. Cuts in services and hospital ward closures have compounded the need for mental health specialists in the community. There’s a great need for HCAs to work with patients affected by mental health problems in hospitals, clinical and community settings. Duties usually include:

  • Active listening and responding with compassion
  • Identifying issues of concern
  • Understanding treatments
  • Administering medication
  • Helping patients access further support and help
  • Recognising risk factors


Why work in mental health?

Working in the mental health sector can be hugely rewarding. Quality care provision for people with mental health difficulties will have a huge impact on their ability to recover and manage their health problems. The mental health workforce is expanding to meet demands. Reasons, why it might be a good career choice for you, are listed below:

  • There are plenty of job opportunities
  • Opportunities to specialise in a specific area of mental health
  • Great training possibilities
  • Career pathways into nursing
  • Every day is different
  • Opportunities to support people at their most vulnerable
  • Makes a huge impact on people’s lives


What certifications do you need to work as a HCA in the mental health sector?

Essential health certs: QQI / Fetac Level 5

Relevant health certs: Mental health awareness| Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults| Amric Infection Prevention and Control| Amric Hand Hygiene| PPE


While nursing agencies report a good demand for all types of HCAs in Ireland, developing a specific area of expertise will help you acquire skills and make your role more interesting and meaningful. Working as a HCA in an agency gives you the chance to experience working in a variety of sectors which keeps the job interesting and can help you identify an area in which you would like to work on a long-term basis.

If you think working as a HCA in an agency might be an interesting career choice for you, contact Access Healthcare to discuss suitable opportunities in Ireland.