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 NCAS (Nursing Community Assessment Service) 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 NCAS Upgrade Program includes the following:

1. Comprehensive Theory Review Modules (2 months, 165 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, 30 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 (60 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 persecibed by the NCAS 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

BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry

The BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry reviews and recognizes Health Care Assistant programs in BC to ensure that they are: following the provincial curriculum, implementing a common set of training standards, and graduating competent front-line health care providers.

Confirming that health care assistants meet registration requirements is integral to the Registry’s mandate of patient protection and improved standards of care.

Graduates of the HCA program delivered by Sprott Shaw College are eligible for registration with the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry to demonstrate their competence and credentials to work for publicly funded employers in BC.

Certificate 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 English for Healthcare 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.
  • Submit a criminal record check from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, including clearance to work with vulnerable adults (Schedule B must be done no more than three months before program start date).
  • For more information on English Language requirements and equivalencies please click here.

Note: Students who are required to have practice education must also submit the following prerequisites upon registration:

  • CPR-C and First Aid or Emergency First Aid.
  • Complete a Health Declaration Form (within 3 months of start date of program).
  • Clear TB skin test / clear chest x-ray if required (within 3 months of start date of program).
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio Immunizations.
  • Chicken Pox (Varicella) immunization.
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria immunizations.
  • Hepatitis B Immunization OR have Family Physician order Titre Test to see if all immunizations have been done.
  • Flu Immunization (required at the time of practicum during flu season).

International Students:

  • A Police Certificate from their country of origin (must be done no more than 1 year before program start date).
Certificate 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.
  • Students can expect to complete 1 – 4 hours of homework per day. Supervised clinical training may include any shifts other than day shift (i.e. evenings – 3pm to 11pm or nights – 11pm to 7am and possible weekends).
  • Clinical placement sites are subject to availability (may be in various areas).
  • Clinical sites may require more current and/or additional CRC (for instance: RCMP) and TB testing (to be done at student’s expense).
  • Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from practice experience sites.

* Health Care Assistant Upgrade was reviewed and approved by the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.

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Courses List

This 12 week Certificate 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

  • This introductory course provides learners with a variety of student centric learning strategies and techniques.
  • Students will learn goal setting, planning and time management, problem solving, writing skills, computer skills, and the effective use of information technologies.

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