Healthcare assistants and the patient experience: A distinctive contribution?

Heron, Paul, Kessler, Ian and Dopson, Sue (2010) Healthcare assistants and the patient experience: A distinctive contribution? In: Medical Sociology Conference, 1-3 September 2010, Durham University. (Unpublished)

Full text not available from this repository.


The sociology of work has treated the assistant role in a limited way: it has been seen as a ‘cheap’ source of labour or as a convenient ‘dumping ground’ for the delegation of routine tasks as ‘superordinate’ occupations seek to professionalise. This perspective is reflected in public policy as it relates to the healthcare assistant (HCA), the role being viewed, within the context of NHS modernisation, as a flexible source of labour with scope to ‘free up’ the nurse. Policy makers have, however, tempered this view with suggestions that the role has a distinctive contribution to make to healthcare quality. Implicitly this is seen to lie in the structure of the role and in those filling it, making care more accessible to the patient. Nonetheless, there are policy risks associated with the increased use of the HCA: the role remains unregulated, with the possibility that patients regard treatment by HCAs as a diminution rather than enhancement of care quality. This paper addresses whether the HCA enhances and/or diminishes the patient care experience in a hospital setting. Drawing on interview, survey, focus group and observational data from four hospitals, it explores the HCA patient relationship from the perspective of three stakeholders: the HCA, the patient and the nurse. These data provide a strong evidence base for the suggestion that HCAs develop a distinctive and ‘positive’ relationship with patients. However, perceptions of this relationship display some contradiction and suggest that any ‘positive’ contribution might be contingent on certain management practices.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Sociology; Healthcare;
Subject(s): Organisational behaviour
Centre: Faculty of Organisational Behaviour
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2012 20:16
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View