The UK’s healthcare and social care system relies heavily on the work of healthcare assistants, who play a critical role in the running of care homes and hospitals. However, with the sector facing a severe and ongoing shortage of these essential professionals, employers are having to work harder than ever to recruit the staff they need to care for patients and residents. 

Since healthcare assistant shift patterns can be changeable and fast-moving, employers tend to recruit via agencies, can who supply high-quality candidates at short notice. In such a candidate-scarce market, experienced healthcare assistants have the opportunity to carry out this important and fulfilling work with better flexibility and remuneration than ever before. 

In this article, we discuss the current job market for healthcare assistants, and why now is the perfect time to secure better pay and more flexible employment.

The enormous value of healthcare assistants

The healthcare assistant role is multi-faceted and challenging. It involves physical tasks like maintaining the physical wellbeing of residents and patients and ensuring the cleanliness of the homes or departments. It also entails more technical duties, like taking and recording various measurements such as blood pressure and temperature and administering medications. 

One of the most critical parts of the role, however, is getting to know residents and patients: talking with them, listening to them, and providing them with the social contact which they may otherwise lack. This means that beyond the physical and technical requirements, being a healthcare assistant requires true emotional intelligence and conscientiousness. 

How is the shortage impacting candidates?

Finding candidates who can perform such a range of responsibilities well is naturally challenging for employers. This is compounded by fact that levels of need in care homes or hospitals across the UK are constantly shifting and changing, requiring fast turnaround times when hiring for shifts. Shortages have also been exacerbated by a range of other factors, including the lingering impacts of the pandemic and Brexit, which reduced the size of the candidate pool significantly, especially candidates from overseas. 

With candidates so scarce, those individuals with solid experience as healthcare assistants are in a great position to capitalise. Des Dhesi, Consultant at Michael Page Healthcare, commented:

“As experienced healthcare assistants have become harder to find, their value to employers has risen, along with the rates being paid by those employers. We have been able to negotiate excellent weekly wages for our candidates, so that they are being remunerated for their skills and efforts. At the same time, we have been able to meet clients in the middle to ensure that the shifts remain available to our candidates whenever they want them.”  

Why flexibility is key in 2022

At Michael Page Healthcare, we have also seen a big shift toward agency work and away from full-time contracts at single care homes or hospitals. With candidates increasingly prioritising a flexible work rota, temping through agencies has become highly appealing, since it enables workers to build their work schedules around their lives and private commitments. 

At Michael Page Healthcare, we place candidates in care homes across the country. Given the way care homes tend to be located, we have found that commutes are rarely lengthy or expensive for candidates, enabling even better flexibility. Our candidates are always able to find shifts near to them and at short notice. 

On the subject of flexibility, Des said: “Traditionally, many nurses, carers and healthcare assistants have worried that temp work could be too unstable and insecure. But in a market defined by a massive deficit of qualified candidates and a surplus of work, this is no longer such a large concern. We have been able to find our candidates well-paid shifts easily, enabling them to enjoy as much personal time as they need outside of their professional lives.”

How can Michael Page help you? 

Without a doubt, this is an excellent market for healthcare assistants looking for accommodating working options and higher rates. So, if you are looking for a work schedule that is more adaptable and better suited to your private life or are already a temp worker but struggling to find well paid shifts, then now is the perfect time to revaluate and consider whether you are getting the best package for you. 

In this market, there is no need to settle – experienced, high-quality carers can command top rates for shifts at times of their choosing. In 2022, you should be in in the driver’s seat of your career.

At Michael Page Healthcare, our expert consultants work with experienced healthcare assistants to help them access the best work available in the UK. We are passionate about helping professionals across the healthcare sector succeed in their job searches. To have an introductory conversation with one of our specialists, get in touch here.  

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