Health Care Assistant Certificate Program

BIG NEWS! As of June 2015 The Health Care Assistant Program delivered by NEC Native Education College has been granted a full, five-year recognition status by the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry. Graduates of the Health Care Assistant delivered by NEC are eligible for registration with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.

Click here for more information about the BC Care Aide & Community Health Registry

The Health Care Assistant (HCA) program prepares individuals to work as front-line health care providers in a variety of community and institutional settings. The program will provide individuals with knowledge and skills to function independently as health care workers and members of the health care team. 

The HCA Program is designed to follow the Provincial Health Care Assistant Program Curriculum (2008) with the same learning outcomes offered at public colleges in BC. In addition to meeting the learning outcomes specified in the Provincial Curriculum, the NEC HCA Program uses an Aboriginal wellness model to prepare students to provide appropriate assistance to elders, people with special needs, Aboriginal families, and people in residential care facilities.

Upon graduation, students will receive Health Care Assistant Certification and will become registered through the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry.  Students will also receive all required practice Certifications and personalized help with preparing a resume, and support in the job search.

Click for Printer Friendly Course Description

Program Content

The HCA program is a full-time program which runs for 8.5 months and is comprised of:

  • Classroom Instruction: delivered through a variety of instruction methods including but not limited to: group discussion, lectures, student presentation, instructor demonstrations, workshops, and guest speakers. Classroom hours run from 09:00am – 4:30pm on Weekdays.
  • Laboratory: students practice theory content learned in class while being supervised by a Registered Nurse.
  • **Clinical Practicum Placements: in Home Support/Assisted Living, Specialized Dementia Care, and Multi-Level Complex Care facilities. Clinical shifts range between 06:45am – 3:00pm with some variations. The practicum runs over 10 weeks and includes day shifts, evening shifts, and some weekend shifts.

Aboriginal health and well-being content is integrated throughout the program with Elder participation, educational supplements, guest speakers, and workshops.

Job Placement Supports: resume preparation and Interview training during the program will be provided.

**Please Note:

  • Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation and traveling to and from all clinical locations
  • Clinical placements will be scheduled depending on availability of staff and may require that students work a variety of shifts i.e. morning, evening, overnight;
  • It may be necessary to work evenings, weekends, and holidays while completing your clinical experiences and final practicum placement.

Entrance Requirements

Proof of meeting English Language Competency Requirements:

  • English 10 or equivalent or CAAT test, if transcripts are unavailable or outdated (for native speakers of English)
  • Standardized English language proficiency test score (for non-native speakers of English)
  • For additional information on these requirements, provide a link to the English Language Competency Requirements:
  • Names and contact information of 2 References (people who know your character in a professional or community setting such as work, school, volunteer work, elder, band office member, etc).
  • Letter from your Family Physician stating the applicant is in good physical and psychological health to take on the demanding role and duties required of a health care assistant.

 Upon Conditional Acceptance:

  • Interview with Coordinator: Students who meet the above noted Eligibility Requirements will be scheduled for an interview with the Program Coordinator to determine their suitability and readiness for this training.
  • Attendance at Program Orientation Session.
  • Criminal Records Check
  • Updated Immunizations including: Negative TB Skin Test/chest X-Ray Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Varicella and Flu Shot.

Program Cost

Please contact Shobha Rajagopalan, Health Sciences Program Manager, for information regarding costs at:
604-873-3761 extension 307

Course Descriptions

HCA 100
Introduction to Practice

This course will provide an introduction to the role of the HCA within the health care system. Students will learn about the different members and roles of the health care team. Students will also develop self-reflective skills required for competent practice and will be introduced to effective job-searching approaches.

HCA 110
Health & Healing: Concepts for Practice

Students are provided with the opportunity to develop a theoretical framework for practice. This course will provide foundational skills building in the areas of basic human needs and human development, person-centred care, family, culture and diversity. The class will also integrate Aboriginal concepts on health and healing.

HCA 120
Lifestyle & Choices

This course introduces students to a holistic concept of health and wellbeing. Challenges and resources that impact health and wellbeing will be discussed. The class will integrate Aboriginal concepts on health and healing.


Successful Completion of Term I
HCA 130
Interpersonal Communication

This course will focus on developing effective interpersonal communication skills, employ a variety of communication tools, and learn effective conflict resolution strategies.

HCA 140
Personal Care & Assistance

Students will learn about providing personal care and assistance to patients in the parameters of the HCA role. This course consists of a class and a lab that will allow students to practice skills learned in class.

*Students must pass both the lab and class components to move into the Final Practicum.

HCA 150
Common Health Challenges

Students will learn about the different body systems and normal body changes that occur with aging. Common challenges to health and healing in relation to each body system will be reviewed.

HCA 160
Cognitive & Mental Health Challenges

Students will learn about common cognitive challenges such as dementia, and will learn how to provide effective care to clients experiencing cognitive impairments. *A Clinical experience component might be rolled in with this course.


Successful Completion of Term I
HCA 170
Community Care Clinical Placement

Students will have the opportunity to practice their skills in a community care setting including home supports, assisted living, or group home locations in various communities across the Lower Mainland.

Please Note:


Successful Completion of Terms I and II
HCA 180
Complex Care Group Clinical Practicum

HCA 180 is a supervised clinical practicum experience where students will can apply knowledge and skills gained in classes and laboratory in a multi-care complex health care facility. During this placement, students will gain specialized dementia care training.

Please Note:


Successful Completion of Terms I and II
HCA 190
Final Complex Care Clinical Preceptorship

Students will be placed in a complex care clinical setting and apply the knowledge and skills learned in classes, labs, and previous clinical experiences in a care setting.

Upon successful completion of this one month final preceptorship rotation, students will graduate, receive a Health Care Assistant Certificate, and will become registered with the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry.

Please Note:


Successful Completion of HCA 170 & 180

FAQ Title

<h3>What is a Health Care Assistant?</h3>


  • HCA is also known as Community Care Worker, Residential Care Attendant, Home Support Worker, Residential Care Aide, Long-Term Care Aide, Home Health Aide, Personal Care Aide or Continuing Home Care Assistant;
  • Health Care Assistant provides personal care and assistance to elders or others who are suffering from illness, who may be acutely ill, or have a lack of functioning or cognitive impairment;
  • Under the direction and supervision of a health professional, a HCA provides safe, competent, and person-centered care that promotes and maintains the physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being of clients;
  • A HCA is a valued and important member of the health care team;
  • HCAs may choose to be employed in a community care setting, residential care facility, or private health care company;


Students will receive the following Certifications throughout the program:

  • Standard First Aid & CPR Level C Certification
  • WHMIS Certification
  • FoodSafe Level 1 Certification


  • Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men and women who are residents of BC

Upon Acceptance

Mandatory Orientation Session:
All accepted students will be required to attend the Mandatory Orientation Session which provides which covers the below information and provides an students with an orientation into the program.  Accepted students will be notified of the exact date and time of the orientation session, usually several weeks prior to the start of the program. Students from out of town can arrange for a telephone orientation.
Criminal Records Check:
Health Care Assistants are in a sensitive position of trust and therefore must undergo a mandatory Criminal Records Check as outlined in the application process and intake interview.  All students will complete the criminal records check during the first week of classes. The cost for the CRC will be paid by the Health Care Program.
Letter of Good Physical and Psychological Health:
Students will be asked to submit a letter from their primary care provider stating that they are in good physical and psychological health at this time. We will review this requirement at the Orientation session, however, some students may wish to see their family doctor earlier and obtain this note.  
Required Immunizations:
For the health and safety of your patients, residents and clients as well as for your own protection, all students and faculty need to obtain proof of immunity or vaccinations.  We will review these requirements at the Orientation session, however, some students may wish to start the process of updating their immunizations earlier, since this may take some time. Below is a list of required immunizations.

  • Tetanus/Diphtheria– Proof of basic immunization series of tetanus/diphtheria with reinforcement dose within the last ten years
  • Poliomyelitis (Polio)– proof of basic immunization series of polio vaccine.
  • Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR)– for those born after 1957: proof of two doses of MMR vaccine or reactive serological test for immunity. Those born before 1957 have probably been infected naturally and can be considered immune.
  • Hepatitis B– Most students may require a Hep B booster. A serological test will determine immunity to Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccine series is strongly recommended for all.
  • Varicella Vaccination(Chickenpox) a serological test will determine immunity to this disease. If you have not been immunized against this disease or have not acquired it at some point in your life you will need to be immunized against it. It is highly contagious and children have only been routinely immunized against it in recent years.
  • Tuberculosis screening (TB) - Proof of negative skin test dated within 6 months of first clinical/practice placement.  If the individual had a positive skin test at the last TB test, a negative chest x-ray within a year of first clinical/practice placement within the Health Authority is required.
  • Influenza (Flu) vaccinedone annually. Proof of influenza vaccination must be available and may be requested at any time.

Faculty Qualifications

  • Current full or non-practicing registration with CLPNBC, CRNBC or CRPNBC
  • Minimum two year, full time nursing experience (1 year=1400 hour), including experience working with older adults with complex health needs, experience or orientation in home support and multi-level/complex care.
  • Demonstrated ability to teach adult learners (PID diploma equivalent education or previous teaching experience with satisfactory references and student course evaluation.
  • Excellent verbal, written, and computer communication skills.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and within a collaborative team environment.
  • An equivalent combination of education and work experience will be considered.
  • Knowledge of and successful experience with Aboriginal adult instructional methodology is an asset.

Employment Prep

Students will receive a number of employment preparation and individualized supports including assistance with: 

  • Job Search Strategies
  • Resume Writing
  • Interview Skills



Graduates will be able to practice in a variety of settings including community home support agencies, adult day care, group homes, assisted living, and residential care facilities. The NEC is working in partnership with a number of agencies to create placement and clinical experiences for our students including: 

  • Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Providence Health Care
  • Squamish Nation Health Department
  • Vancouver Native Health Society
  • Pacific Association of First Nations Women