Health Care Assistant Upgrade

This program prepares individuals with previous health care assistant education and experience for practice in BC. It is designed to address individual needs as identified through the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) HCA Competency Assessment. It enables individuals to review and enhance previously acquired knowledge and upgrade their skills to meet practice requirements so that they may become registered as HCAs in BC with BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.

The Upgrade Program includes the following:

1. Comprehensive Theory Review Modules (2 months, 155 hours)
The theory review component is designed to be completed in a self-paced and self-directed format, with online learning modules and assessments. Students will work at their own pace, and an HCA instructor will be available to answer content-specific questions and to support student progress.

2. HCA Lab Skills Review and Skills Testing (1 month, 20 hours)
After completing the theory review, students will be oriented to the skills lab and will work with an HCA instructor for a basic HCA skills refresher before being assessed for a complex care placement.

3. Supervised Practice Experience Multi-Level/Complex Care (40 hours)
Students will be assigned to a clinical setting under the supervision of an HCA Clinical Instructor, where the student will be expected to meet program learning outcomes in the practice setting.

Learning Objectives

The nine program learning outcomes that the students must meet for successful completion of this program are:

  • Provides person-centred care and assistance that recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each individual client
  • Uses an informed problem-solving approach to provide care and assistance that promotes the physical, psychological, social, cognitive and/or spiritual well-being of clients and families
  • Provides care and assistance for clients experiencing complex health challenges
  • Provides care and assistance for clients experiencing cognitive and/or mental health challenges
  • Interacts with other members of the healthcare team in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals
  • Communicates clearly, accurately, and in sensitive ways with clients and families within a variety of community and facility contexts
  • Provides personal care and assistance in a safe, competent and organized manner
  • Recognizes and responds to own self-development, learning and health-enhancement needs
  • Performs the care provider role in a reflective, responsible, accountable and professional/ethical manner

Diploma Program

Total Program Hours:
255 Hours
Full-Time Program Length:
12 Weeks
(Includes holidays and professional days)
Program content is subject to change.

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Career Opportunities

Acute/Complex Care Facility
Adult Day Care
Assisted Living
Group Homes
Home Support Agencies
Long Term Care
Private Homes
Special Care Units
Admission Requirements:

In addition to meeting the Minimum English Competency Requirements for BC Health Care Assistant Programs, the following program admission requirements apply:

  • Proof of meeting English Language Competency Requirements:
  • English 10 or equivalent with a grade of C (for native speakers of English) or Sprott Shaw College Communication for Healthcare Course with a grade of 76%
  • Standardized English language test score (for non-native speakers of English)
  • For further information on English requirements, see your Career Advisor
  • A referral from the BC Care Aide Registry will not be required from program applicants who already hold current HCA registration in BC. For those who do not hold a current HCA registration in BC, a referral from the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry will be required
Diploma Requirements:
  • 90% passing mark for successful completion of all modules
  • Upon successful completion of this program, students are eligible to receive an HCA Upgrade Program Certificate
  • If only a component of the program is completed, a transcript specifying completion component(s) will be issued but not a full certificate
Additional Notes:

As evidence that HCA education referral requirements have been completed, successful candidates will supply their Transcript and/or Program Certificate as evidence for registration with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker.

HCAU100 through HCAU204 are Online Review Modules. Each module requires a Final Assessment Result of 90%. Individuals will work at their own pace within the 2-month requirements. Any unsuccessful attempt at any level may require a re-sit or retest.

HCAU300 requires on-site attendance and is graded as Complete/Incomplete.

HCAU400 is a monitored practicum that is graded as Complete/Incomplete.


* Health Care Assistant Upgrade was reviewed and approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.

Students can expect to complete one to three hours of homework per day.

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Courses List

This 12 week Diploma program requires the student to complete the following courses.

  • Characteristics of caring person-centred
  • Basic human needs
  • Human development
  • Family in health and healing
  • Multiculturalism and diversity
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Protection and Safety in health and healing

  • Introduction to interpersonal communication
  • Knowledge to self
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Responding to others
  • Violence prevention / Abuse awareness
  • Conflict management and resolution

  • Understanding health
  • Components of health
  • Psychological / emotional (feeling) components of health
  • Cognitive (thinking) components of health
  • Social (interactive) components of health
  • Spiritual components of health
  • Lifestyle change

  • Workplace settings and contexts
  • Team work in health care settings
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Professional approaches to practice
  • Self-reflective practice
  • Employability

  • Medical terminology
  • Structure and function of the human body
  • Nutrition and healing
  • End-of-life care
  • Challenges to health and healing, including:
  • Common challenges
  • Board effects on the individual and family of health challenges
  • Common disorders related to each body system
  • Chronic illness
  • Applying critical thinking and problem-solving when caring for individuals experiencing common health challenges in various health care settings

  • Cognitive challenges in older adulthood
  • Elder Abuse
  • Mental health challenges
  • Stigma associated with mental health challenges
  • Caring for the person and family
  • Suicide risks and prevention

  • Infection prevention
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Health and cold applications
  • Assisting with oxygen needs
  • Assisting with medications
  • Assistance with administering medications
  • Wound care

  • Problem Solving when carrying out caregiving procedures
  • Asepsis and prevention of infection
  • Promoting comfort and rest
  • Promoting person hygiene
  • Moving, positioning and transferring a client
  • Bed making
  • Promoting exercise and activity
  • Promoting healthy nutrition and fluid intake
  • Promoting urinary and bowel elimination
  • Home management
  • Assisting with medications

  • Lab skills booklet
  • Lab review
  • Client care scenarios
  • Open lab practice
  • Final skills testing

  • Orientation at the start of the placement
  • 40-hour practicum placement

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