Health Care Assistant in BC

What is Health Care Assistant or Personal Support Worker?

Canada has one of the most comprehensive health care systems in the world, with not only free health care insurance coverage for everyone but also a very high demand for workers in the health care system each year. With the rising demands, Health Care Assistants are becoming a popular study and career. HCA is a full-time care provider position of the healthcare team and accepts the guidance and supervision of standardized healthcare professionals in various environments. 

In some provinces, the title and program for HCA are completely different. For example, Health Care Aides in Toronto Ontario are called Personal Support Workers (PSW). According to https://ontariopswassociation.com/psw-roles-and-responsibilities/ OPSWA, Personal Support Workers provide care to patients who require medical care, and they are working under nurses’ supervision. Responsibilities are the same as Health Care Assistants in British Columbia. In this article, we will take you through every detail about Health Care Assistants, how to become a Health Care Assistant, what courses to choose, how to find a job, and how jobs are as health care assistants. 

Health Care Assistants (HCA) are frontline caregivers that serve clients and patients in various institutes. They may serve in acute care, long-term care, home care or community care, etc. They are also known as Community Health Workers, Home Support Workers, Community Care Assistants, Assistant Support Workers, and Care Aides in BC. As a health care assistant, main duties would be providing personal care for clients and families in a caring manner and supporting patients’ unique care needs. At the same time, Canada’s aging population has increased the demand for Health Care Assistants. 

Health Care Assistant
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What are job titles as Health Care Assistants? 

Health Care Aide/ Assistant

Health Care Aides or Assistants are an official job title listed by the BC government and health department. In NOC (National Occupational Classification), Health Care Aides/Assistants are listed 3413. They are also known as Care Assistant Support workers, Care Aides, Personal Support Workers, Nursing Attendants, Nursing Assistants. Usually, health care assistants are assisting individuals, families, and communities with health insurance, food, housing, and quality care information. HCAs could be employed in a variety of health institutions, including elderly care centres, individual homes, hospitals, clinics, etc. In the Canadian health system, HCAs are a big part of the supporting workers, especially with COVID-19 outbreaks and the rising demand for health care workers.  To become a Health Care Aide in BC, you need to register with BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry before starting to work. 

Hospital Attendant

As the name implies, hospital attendants mainly work at a local hospital as assistants to support nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff. Some duties include giving patients instructions on their medications, helping staff with medical machines, monitoring blood pressure and other health services, providing first aid in case of emergency, and other routine tasks. Sometimes, hospital attendants need to perform housekeeping duties, for example, answer calls, change sheets, serve meal trays to patients, empty bedpans, etc. Working as an attendant at a hospital needs to be very patient and caring for patients and staff.

Resident Care Aide

Health care assistants working at a caring institution are resident care aides, for example, senior centres or nursing homes. With Canada’s aging population, resident care aides are in need at senior centres and retirement facilities. Being a resident care aide or resident assistant mainly helps elderly patients with chronic illness, disability, and maintain the patient’s health and build a patient-caregiver relationship. Usually, resident care aide’s daily duties are assisting patient’s bathing, grooming, dressing, and other personal hygiene activities. Feeding patients, bed transfers, lifting, turning, and walking; wound care, equipment use; assisting patients to take their medication are also common duties for resident care aides. 

Patient Care Aide

Patient care aide is a job title for Health Care Assistant as well. They can work in a variety of settings, and it’s a general title for many health care workers. Different institutions may have different requirements for care aides. For example, some hospitals may need PCAs to perform housekeeping duties, some may require more administrative skills. Usually, PCA needs to fulfill the registration requirements for BC Care Aide Community Health Worker Registry as well.

Community Health Workers

In Vancouver, some health organizations employ community health workers to provide home support to clients. Responsibilities could vary depending on the level of care the client needs. Community Health Workers work closely with the local health care team and follow the instructions of nurses, doctors, and health care institutions. After individual home care, they need to report back the patient’s conditions to the health care team. Observing and long-term caring is the main goal of community health workers. A good long-term patient-caregiver relationship works better for both community health workers and patients, so they need encouraging and supporting communication skills as well. Moreover, qualifications for community health workers are registration with BC Care Aide Community Health Worker Registry. 

Health Care Assistant
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What are the job duties and work environment?

A BC Care Aide Community Health Worker registered HCA can be employed in a variety of health institutions. As job titles mentioned above, the most common work environment might be senior care centres or nursing homes. Others might be employed in hospitals. In Vancouver, there are 13 hospitals and numerous clinics and surgery centres in need of HCAs, and they provide a safe and stable income and work environment for health care workers. HCAs in general are assisting nurses and institution staff in caring for patients and running routine tasks. Duties are not limited and it depends on the level of care the patient needs. HCAs working in different departments can have different job responsibilities. It could vary from hospital attendant, patient service associate, personal care attendant to the psychiatric aide. General job duties are housekeeping, helping patients with daily life tasks, caring for chronically ill patients, maintaining hospital inventories, building communications with patients.

Create Career College HCA Program

Description

Our 62-week full-time Health Care Assistant (HCA) Diploma with Co-op Program includes 25.5 weeks of lecture, 5.5 weeks of practicum, and 31 weeks of Co-op. This program equips students with hands-on laboratory skills and lecture knowledge delivered via in-class instructions, as well as real-world clinical experience acquired during the practicum and Co-op. Upon completion of courses HCA 100 – HCA 900, students will be eligible to register with the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry to become registered Health Care assistants. Students must become a registered HCA prior to the start of the Co-op work experience.

Careers such as those of Health Care Assistants’ have come into high demand, as frontline care providers practice primarily with their compassionate hearts to promote the health, safety, independence, comfort, and wellbeing of the aging population. As reliable members of the healthcare team, they aid in the fundamental care of patients under the direction of physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff. In addition, Health Care Assistants are trained to provide person-centered care helping guard the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being of clients/residents who have complex health issues in protective and supportive environments.

*Please note, students are eligible to register at BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry upon successful completion of all courses (HCA 100 – HCA 900) to become a registered HCA in BC. Students must become a registered HCA prior to the start of the Co-op work experience. 

Learning Objectives

The program offered is based on the Health Care Assistant, Provincial Curriculum (2015). Upon

completion of the HCA program, graduates will be able to:

  • Provide person-centered care and assistance that recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each individual client.
  • Use an informed problem-solving approach to provide care and assistance that promotes the physical, psychological, social, cognitive, and spiritual well-being of clients and families.
  • Provide care and assistance for clients experiencing complex health challenges.
  • Provide care and assistance for clients experiencing cognitive and/or mental health challenges.
  • Interact with other members of the health care team in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.
  •  Communicate clearly, accurately, and insensitive ways with clients and families within a variety of community and facility contexts.
  • Provide personal care and assistance in a safe, competent, and organized manner.
  • Recognize and respond to your self-development, learning, and health enhancement needs.
  • Perform the care provider role in a reflective, responsible, accountable, and professional manner.

Program Admission Requirement

Proof of Grade 10 graduation or mature student status (19 years old or more) AND proof of meeting English Language Competency Requirements:

To be accepted into a recognized BC HCA program, applicants are required to demonstrate proficiency in English. Students must be able to communicate effectively in English to be successful in their studies and to be capable of providing safe and competent care to patients/clients/residents in the work environment.

Teamwork and communication failures are a primary cause of patient safety incidents in healthcare; the ability to communicate effectively is one of the fundamental safety competencies identified by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI).

All BC HCA program applicants are required to demonstrate English language proficiency. Domestic and/or international applicants who are non-native English speakers will need to take a standardized proficiency assessment to confirm communicative competence in all four language skills areas (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).

Program Duration

With Co-op 1490 hours/62 weeks

Health Care Assistant

Courses 

HCA 100 Health and Healing: Concepts for Practice

Students are introduced to the philosophical values and theoretical concepts of being a Healthcare Assistant. The courses focus on caring and person-centred care, basic human needs, and human development, family, culture, and diversity as they relate to health and healing. Students will be introduced to a problem-solving model that will be critical to their practice.

HCA 200 Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice

This course provides an introduction to the role of the HCA within the Province of British Columbia health care system. Students are introduced to the healthcare team and the roles and functions of HCA within the team. There will also be opportunities to develop self-reflective skills.

HCA 300 Interpersonal Communications

This course focuses on developing self-awareness, increased understanding of others, and effective interpersonal communication skills. Students will be encouraged to become more aware of the impact of their own communication choices and patterns and have the opportunity to develop and use communication techniques to demonstrate personal awareness, respect, and active listening.

HCA 400 Health 2: Lifestyle and Choices

This course introduces students to a holistic concept of health and the components of a health-enhancing lifestyle. Students will be invited to reflect on their own health experiences, recognizing challenges and resources that can affect life choices. Students will be introduced to a model that can be applied to other courses to understand the multi-faceted aspects of health and healing.

HCA 500 Healing 1: Caring for Individuals Experiencing Common Health Challenges

This course is an introduction to the normal structure and functions of the human body and changes associated with aging. Students will explore common challenges to health and healing and explore person-centred practices, particularly as they apply to end-of-life care.

HCA 600 Healing 2: Caring for Individuals Experiencing Cognitive or Mental Challenges

Building on other courses related to caregiving, this course allows students to work with individuals experiencing cognitive or mental difficulties. The emphasis in this course is on supporting clients with dementia, recognizing responsive behaviours, and identifying person-centred intervention strategies.

HCA 700 Healing 3: Personal Care and Assistance

This practical course offers students the opportunity to acquire personal care and assistance skills in the role of an HCA. The course consists of class and supervised laboratory experiences that assist the student to integrate theory from other courses to develop caregiver skills to maintain and promote the comfort, safety, and independence of those in community facilities.

HCA 800 Practice Experience in Home Support and/or Assisted Living

This supervised practice provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a multi-level or complex care setting. A portion of this clinical experience will be devoted to working with individuals experiencing cognitive difficulties. The opportunity will be provided for students to gain expertise and confidence with the role of the HCA within a continuing care family.

HCA 900 Practice Experience in Multi-Level and/or Complex Care

This supervised practice provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge in a multi-level or complex care setting. A portion of this clinical experience will be devoted to working with individuals experiencing cognitive difficulties. The opportunity will be provided for students to gain expertise and confidence with the role of the HCA within a continuing care family.

Health Care Assistant
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BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry

According to the Government of BC, this registry is a database that consists of registered care aides and community health workers working for or wanting to work for, publicly funded employers of BC (“BC Care Aide & Community – About the Registry”, 2021). Only health care workers who complete this registration can work as HCAs in British Columbia. Make sure to study at a college or university that is recognized by the BC Care Aides and Community Health Care Worker Registry, the list of recognized educators is listed here: https://www.cachwr.bc.ca/About-the-Registry/List-of-HCA-programs-in-BC.aspx.

There are a few types of recognition status for the above institutions. New Program: Site Visit Pending means that a period of up to 2 years during which time the institution is expected to deliver the program is granted. Interim recognition is granted after a compliance assessment site visit and can be held for a period of up to 2 years. Full recognition is granted after a compliance assessment site visit and can be held for a period of up to 5 years.

How to register for BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry

After completion of a secondary school and HCA program at a recognized institution, or equivalent at another location, you can apply for Health Care Assistant Registry.

Step 1. Choose your HCA programs. 

-There are a few options on the website: Graduate of an HCA program in BC, Graduate of an HCA program in Canada(or HCA equivalent), Canadian-licensed LPN, RN, or RPN, Nursing student in Canada, and Internationally educated Health Care Professional. 

Step 2. Read Requirement and Apply

-For graduates of an HCA program in BC, you’ll need to provide information: certificate, official transcript, an official letter of program completion. 

-For students graduating from an HCA program in Canada (or equivalent), different conditions may apply. There are two pathways to apply for registered HCA. For all details: https://www.cachwr.bc.ca/Application/HCA-Graduate-in-Canada-(or-HCA-Equivalent).aspx

Option 1: Expedited Pathway, there are two categories for this pathway, you must meet one of the categories to apply. And application requirements are proof of training from your educational institutions, chronological format resume, change of name document (if applicable), English requirement, HCA Practice Hours Verification Form, HCA competency reference form. 

Option 2: HCA Competency Assessment, to apply for this pathway, you need to upload proof of training from your educational institution, change of name document (if applicable). 

-For Canadian-licensed LPN, RN, or RPN, Nursing students in Canada, you will need to have a Canadian Nursing license or be enrolled in a nursing program.

-Internationally Educated Health Care Professional, to apply for this pathway is rather complicated. First, upload proof of training from your educational institution, English language skills, International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) Basic Evaluation Report (or equivalent), Change of Name – Official Documentation (If applicable). And then, you’ll need an NCAS(Nursing Community Assessment Service) Referral, NCAS Assessment, Remedial Education (if required). For more information: https://www.cachwr.bc.ca/Application/International.aspx

Health Care Assistant
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How to find a job as an HCA

Indeed

Indeed is the most common recruiting tool for employers, almost every local company would use indeed to find their employees. There are also many hospitals and public facilities that recruit members from here. Searching for a health care assistant on Indeed, there will be a few hospitals and health institutions pop out. For example, Vancouver Coastal Health is recruiting community health workers, and salary, working hours, job duty, requirements, and benefits will be listed on the website, just simply click the apply button to send your application. You’ll need to send in your resume and qualification for the position. There might be different job titles for health care assistants, carefully choose your desired working environment and submit your application. Here are some other instances for HCAs on Indeed, Carercorp Seniors Services are looking for full-time and part-time resident care aides with an hourly 25.83$ rate, Hero Home is looking for Health Care Assistants with a $19-$25 hourly rate. 

Glassdoor

Glassdoor is another popular recruitment site in North America. It allows you to search job titles, companies, salaries, and filter locations. Moreover, you can see the reviews on each company and you can rate the company you applied to. For example, when I search Health Care Assistant and set location in Burnaby, I can see Fraser Health is recruiting HCAs and specifically residential care, moreover, it shows that they are willing to offer $26 per hour, and there are many job reviews on the website. A company overview is also available. Qualification, job requirements and job duties, and working hours and environment are also displayed on the recruitment page. When searching for HCA jobs, different job titles might come out, such as  Vancouver Coastal Health is looking for Radiology Support Aide with a $26 hourly rate, and Nikoniko Home Care is looking for personal care aide or home care with a $17-$20 hourly rate. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the biggest network platform in North America, not only entrepreneurs are active on LinkedIn, but also many big companies are recruiting employees on the website. Building your social network is very important for LinkedIn users, make sure you have a good, presentable profile and specifically list your education, past work experience and choose a formal business profile photo. Moreover, reaching out to entrepreneurs and potential employers would be an essential step to start your LinkedIn journey. However, LinkedIn is rather hard to connect with hospitals or medical institutions, and it usually takes time to build up a profile. 

What are the average salaries for HCA?

According to Indeed, an average Health Care Assistant can earn around $23.25 an hour base and $53,720 a year. Glassdoor shows a similar amount of $50,398 a year in Vancouver. The government of BC has listed an estimated $45,091 annual provincially salary for Health Care Assistant. In conclusion, with one to two years of education and no further requirement, Health Care Assistant is a rather high pay job in British Columbia. 

References:

BC Care Aide & Community – About the Registry. (2021). Retrieved 21 September 2021, from https://www.cachwr.bc.ca/About-the-Registry.aspx