Health Care Assistant

  • Program Length 
    24 Weeks
  • Credential 
  • Location Offered 
    Cowichan, Nanaimo, Powell River

Lead with a compassionate heart in a rewarding career as a professional caregiver. The VIU Health Care Assistant Certificate program prepares students for in-demand careers with Canada’s aging population.

This 24-week full-time program combines in-class instruction with hands-on experience in nursing labs and clinical instruction that is uniquely enriched with Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. Upon graduation students find employment opportunities working in complex care facilities, extended care units, acute care, home support agencies and residential settings.

Certified Health Care Assistants graduate as important members of health care teams, helping individuals and families live safe, healthy, and comfortable lives.

The Health Care Assistant Program

Note: The Health Care Assistant program was formerly called the Home Support/Resident Care Attendant program.

This program is designed to provide students with the theory and skills required to become a caregiver. The major focus is in providing care for people experiencing changes in their functional abilities. Enriched with aboriginal ways of knowing and being, this program will enhance the students' ability to provide cultural safety and person-centered care to all.

The Health Care Assistant (HCA) program delivered by Vancouver Island University (VIU) has been granted a full, five-year recognition status by the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry

The BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry reviews and recognizes HCA 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.

Program Outline

Phase I*


HCAS 101T - (Health: Interpersonal Communications)


HCAS 102T - (Health: Lifestyle and Choices)


HCAS 103T - (Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice)


HCAS 104T - (Health and Healing: Concepts for Practice)


HCAS 105T - (Healing 1: Common Health Challenges)


HCAS 106T - (Healing 2: Cognitive or Mental Challenges)


HCAS 107T - (Healing: Personal Care and Assistance)


Phase II**

HCAS 121T - (Practice Experience in Multi-Level and/or Complex Care)


Phase III

HCAS 131T - (Practice Experience in Home Support and/or Assisted Living)


Total Credits


* Phase I courses must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase II.
** Phase II course must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase III.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Admission Requirements

Notes on Admission

  • Indigenous students can apply for reserve seats by submitting the Access Initiative for Indigenous students form.
  • Fieldwork, practicums, or clinical practice will require a satisfactory criminal record check prior to placement. The Registration Centre at VIU will contact prospective students regarding the Criminal Record Check. Criminal Record Checks are processed through the Ministry according to the Criminal Records Review Act. A check completed through the RCMP is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act.
  • The following documents are required by the first day of classes.
    • A completed Immunization Requirements Form.
    • Proof of W.H.M.I.S. training.
    • Foodsafe Level I certificate.
    • Standard First Aid certificate is required (that includes CPR Level "C").
    • Students will be required to complete physically demanding tasks within a variety of work spaces.
    • Not currently open to international students.

Recommended Personal Characteristics

Before applying for this program, students should learn as much as possible about this career. We encourage students to volunteer in a health care facility to familiarize themselves with the role of the Health Care Assistant. Preference may be given to those with 30 hours or more volunteer service in a long term care setting. The following traits are critical for student success:

  • sensitivity to the needs of others;
  • trustworthiness, integrity, flexibility;
  • ability to move freely in confined spaces; physical stamina
  • ability to speak confidently with people of all ages;
  • ability to pay close attention to detail;
  • ability to work quickly with accuracy and efficiency;
  • ability to manage time effectively and handle responsibility;
  • ability to problem-solve effectively in a limited time span;
  • excellent oral and personal hygiene;
  • willingness to show commitment to program by regular attendance;
  • ability to be punctual on a consistent basis;
  • ability to participate in own learning by displaying preparedness for class and clinical settings;
  • ability to perform basic home management and cooking skills.

Start Date and Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Usual start dates for the Nanaimo campus are September and February. Start dates may vary at the Cowichan and Powell River campuses. For further information regarding intake dates and program contacts check the Program Availability List for the NanaimoCowichan, and Powell River campuses.

Career Opportunities

The program prepares students for employment in complex care facilities, extended care units, acute care, home support agencies and residential settings. Graduates will work primarily with older adults.

Domestic Fees

Tuition Fee Schedule

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees - 24 week program*


Tuition (6 months x $443.27 per month)


Lab fee


Student Activity fee (4% of tuition and lab fee)


Student Services fee (18 credits x $6.53 per credit)


VIU Students' Union fee (6 months x $19.43 per month)


Books and supplies (approximate cost)





* The above fee table is for Nanaimo campus only. Students taking the program through the Cowichan or Powell River campuses will pay reduced Students’ Union fees.

Students are responsible for travel expenses to clinical agencies.

The Health and Dental Plan fee is in effect only for full-time students at the Nanaimo Campus.  

All fees are subject to change without prior notice.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

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