Health Care Assistant Kaiāwhina Haumanu Hauora/Kaimahi Atawhai

Health care assistants care for people in aged residential care, private homes, hospitals and disability support.

Health care assistants may do some or all of the following:

  • help patients or clients wash, dress and eat
  • help with laundry, housework and shopping
  • make sure patients or clients take the correct medicine
  • help clients attend appointments
  • help patients rehabilitate in areas such as social skills and walking.

Physical Requirements

Health care assistants need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, with no back problems, as the work can be physically demanding.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for health care assistants includes:

  • work in rest homes, nursing homes and hospitals
  • work with families, the elderly or people with disabilities
  • work helping people, or customer service
  • first aid
  • cleaning and housekeeping.

Personal Qualities

Health care assistants need to be:

  • patient and tolerant
  • practical, organised and responsible
  • friendly, helpful and compassionate
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to relate well to people from different cultures
  • skilled at listening and communicating
  • able to cope with stressful and emotional situations.


Health care assistants need to have knowledge of:

  • patient care
  • the needs of the patients or clients they work with, such as elderly people, young people or people with disabilities
  • first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • safe lifting techniques and how to use hoists.

They may also need to know about:

  • hospital procedures
  • health and safety procedures.


Health care assistants:

  • may work shifts, including evenings and weekends (home support workers usually work only during the day)
  • work in clients' homes, clinics, rest homes and nursing homes or in hospitals – in emergency departments and intensive care, maternity wards, outpatient clinics, operating theatres and mental health clinics
  • may be exposed to diseases and body fluids
  • may travel locally to clients' homes.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but English, maths and biology to at least NCEA Level 1 are useful.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain relevant experience and skills.

Health Care Assistants can earn around $23-$28 per hour.

Pay for health care assistants varies depending on experience, where they work, and how many hours a week they work.

Health care assistants employed by Te Whatu Ora (former DHBs)

  • New health care assistants usually earn $23 an hour.
  • Health care assistants with one to three years' experience usually earn $23 to $25 an hour.
  • Health care assistants with four to five years' experience can earn $25 to $26 an hour.

 Support workers who provide care in people's homes

  • Support workers with up to eight years' experience or a Level 2 qualification usually earn between $23 and $26 an hour.
  • Support workers with more than eight years' experience or a Level 3 or 4 qualification can earn between $26 and $28 an hour.

Sources: District Health Boards and New Zealand Nurses Organisation, 'Nursing and Midwifery Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) 1 August 2020-31 October 2022', 2022; New Zealand Legislation website, ‘Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlements Amendment Bill, July 2022 – December 2023', 2022.

Health care assistants may progress into management or administration roles. With further training, they may become enrolled or registered nurses, or phlebotomists (who collect blood samples).

Health care assistants can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Health Care Assistant
Health care assistants support nurses working with patients in aged residential care or medical practices.
Home and Community Support Worker
Home and community support workers help clients with bathing, dressing, eating, laundry and housework in private homes.

Years Of Training

1-2 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a health care assistant.

However, employers usually prefer you to have, or work towards, a qualification such as:

Aged Care, Home and Community Support:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 2)
  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Health Assistance (Level 3), to work in hospitals and rest homes
  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Support Work (Level 3), to provide care in private homes
  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Level 4) Advanced Care and Support.


  • New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing – Health Assistance (Level 3)

You may also need:

  • a First Aid Certificate
  • a driver's licence.

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.

Health Care Assistant