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Health Care Assistant

Health Care Assistants (HCAs) play a critical role in the elder care sector by providing personal care and support to older adults. They work closely with older adults, their families, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that each person receives high-quality care and support that is tailored to their individual needs.

HCAs provide a range of personal care services to older adults, including assistance with grooming, dressing, nutrition, mobility, and other daily living activities. They also provide emotional support and companionship to older adults, helping them to maintain their dignity, independence, and quality of life.

HCAs work in a variety of settings, including long-term care communities, assisted living residences, and home health care. In each setting, they work closely with other healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, and therapists, to ensure that older adults receive the care and support they need.

To be successful in this career, HCAs must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a compassionate and caring nature. They should be patient, reliable, and able to work independently, as well as part of a team. They should also have a strong understanding of elder care principles, including infection control, safety, and risk management.

This position is known by many job titles in B.C. and Canada including Residential Care Aides, Community Health Workers, Personal Support Workers, Long-Term Care Aides, Continuing Care Assistants and more.  

Quick facts about Health Care Assistants

  • Education: Becoming a Health Care Assistant requires a diploma or certification, usually taking between 6 to 9 months to complete. Additional required certificates include Foodsafe Level 1, First Aid & CPR, WHMIS and Violence Prevention.
  • Certification Required? Yes, registration is required with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.
  • English: A minimum of Grade 10 English OR Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 is required. Learn more about English language standards here 
  • Pay: $$. Most Health Care Assistants earn between $23 – $26 per hour.
  • Job Opportunities:
    BC’s Labour Market Outlook projects over 18,000 job openings for Health Care Assistants over the next 10 years. 
  • Sample Job Description: Coming soon.

What education and training is needed?

To become a registered Health Care Assistant in BC, you need to complete an education program recognized by the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry, or have completed substantially equivalent education in another province/territory or internationally.

Most employers also provide on-the-job training and professional development opportunities for their HCAs to help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to provide high-quality care and support to older adults.

Here are two training opportunities that can help you achieve your HCA registration in British Columbia:

  • BCCPA’s HCA Training Program
    With funding from the provincial government, BCCPA partners with post-secondary institutions to provide free Health Care Assistant training in communities across British Columbia. The program will pay 100% of your tuition and books while you participate in an 8-month training program. This includes online and in-person training, as well as the opportunity for hands-on learning in both home support and long-term care. Additional financial supports are also available to cover training related costs, such as child-care, transportation and PPE.  Learn whether you are eligible for our training program today.
  • Health Career Access Program
    The Health Career Access Program is an entry level opportunity for people interested in joining the healthcare sector as a registered HCA. The government will pay 100% of your wages, tuition and books while you undergo an accelerated 12 to 18 month training program. This includes online and in-person training, as well as the opportunity for hands-on learning in both home support and long-term care.

You can find a full list of recognized post-secondary institutions offering HCA training here.

Helpful Resources

There are many helpful resources to start your career as a Health Care Assistant in British Columbia. Here are just a few:

  • BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry
    The Registry is the regulatory body responsible for registered Health Care Assistants in B.C. You must be registered with the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry before finding employment in any of B.C.’s publicly-subsidized health care settings. Get registered and start working today.
  • Nursing Community Assessment Service
    If you are an internationally educated health care profession you can apply through the Nursing Community Assessment Services (NCAS) to have your educational credentials, language proficiency, and competencies assessed in order to apply for HCA registration.
  • Choose2Care
    Choose2Care is an information website all about Health Care Assistant careers.  You can learn much more about becoming a Health Care Assistant here.
  • Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants – Health
    The Career Paths program is a government subsidized resource that helps internationally educated health care professionals achieve their licensure or registration in British Columbia, including becoming registered as a Health Care Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse.

Frequently Asked Questions

*coming soon*