Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice

Suggested Learning Strategies

Strategies that Focus on Caring

1. Qualities and Characteristics of Care Providers Discussion

Invite students to form small groups and discuss what qualities and characteristics they would want in a care provider for themselves or a family member.

Have them work to describe the “perfect” care provider in terms of:

  • Personality
  • Work habits
  • Knowledge level
  • Relationship with other health team members
  • Relationship with family members
  • Other characteristics that seem important

Which qualities/characteristics would be considered MOST important? What does this tell you about the qualities and characteristics of an effective care provider?

2. Caring for Clients Discussion

Questions that could be used to elicit discussion on caring:

  • If we truly care about and for our clients, what sort of environment will we want them to live in (e.g., client-centred model of care)?
  • In what ways does a team approach contribute to better care for a client?
  • How are legal and ethical standards related to a philosophy of individual worth?
  • How is striving for increased personal competence related to being a caring health care provider?
  • How does maintaining professional boundaries by the health care provider show caring for the client?

3. Unfolding Case Study: Caring for Peter Schultz

As a homework assignment, have students read their textbook and other relevant course or online materials describing the role of the HCA in various health care settings, including community day programs, home care, and residential care. Ask the students to identify the positive aspects and challenges associated with working in each of these settings.

  1. Whole Class Activity and Discussion
    • In class, briefly review the health care settings and list the positive aspects and challenges that may be experienced by the HCA working in these settings on the whiteboard. Following this, ask the students to consider positive aspects and challenges that might be experienced by clients and their families in these same settings and list them on the whiteboard.
  2. Small Group Activity
    • Divide the class into small groups, assigning each group one of the following scenarios describing client and family experiences with various health care agencies and settings. After the students have read the scenario; they should work together to identify the positive aspects and challenges described in the scenario and be prepared to share their observations with the larger group. See STUDENT HANDOUT below.
  3. Whole Class Activity Debrief
    • Come together as a class and have each group report back on the positive aspects and challenges that were identified. Work together to identify additional positive aspects and challenges that may be experienced by clients and families being supported in these care settings. For each setting, discuss how the HCA could provide support to address the challenges identified.

Note: Students could be instructed to add the scenario(s) and notes from this session to their client portfolio for Peter Schultz.

Unfolding Case Study: Caring for Peter Schultz
Client and Family Experiences with Different Health Care Settings

DIRECTIONS: In your group, review your assigned scenario(s) describing the client and family experience with various health care agencies and settings. After reading, work together to identify the positive aspects and challenges described in the scenario and be prepared to share your observations with the larger group.

  1. Adult Day Program
    • Women from various agencies came to the house to interview Peter and myself. They arranged for Peter to spend one day a week at an Adult Day Program. Peter was cross about going and didn’t like it at first, but after a couple of weeks I think he quite looked forward to it. Peter was often called on to sing a song or recite one of the many poems he knew by heart. One of his favourite activities was the bell choir. By the time residential care was needed, he was attending the program three times a week, which was a Godsend to me.
  2. Home Support
    • Community services also introduced me to home support. This was such a wonderful help to me. An HCA came every morning and got Peter up, bathed and shaved him, dressed him, and prepared his breakfast. Unless you have had to do so, you can’t imagine how hard it is to help someone who resents being helped and thinks he doesn’t need to be bathed, shaved, toileted, or dressed, especially if you are the spouse. I can never thank these HCAs enough for all they did for me.

      I did the vacuuming and found it very tiring. I thought about someone to do it for me and people coming in to bathe Peter. I got myself all upset, feeling the intrusion of strangers in my home and then was filled with guilt because they were all here to help, then sadness that there were some places I couldn’t take him.
  3. Respite Care
    • Also available were respite times. If you were a caregiver, you were entitled to four weeks of respite a year. This meant your loved one could be cared for in a residence for a week while you had a rest. It didn’t help at first because I felt so guilty, but after a year or two, I really looked forward to some time by myself.
  4. Residential Care
    • I just came home from the residential care home. I took Peter there on the 26th of April, 2004. I took his clothes, his slippers, the toiletries, a harmonica, the large print Bible our daughter had given him, this German Bible written in old-fashioned script, which he could still read without glasses. Drove into the yard and parked.
    • “Where are we?” he asked.
    • “I need a little rest, honey, so you are going to stay here for a while.”
    • He accepted that. I hauled the suitcase out of the trunk. He insisted on carrying the heavy thing. I punched in the code and the door opened. We went through it. The door closed. It was the beginning of our “involuntary separation.”
    • ***
    • I am often amazed at the competence and kindly patience of the HCAs in the care home. Peter is at a table where five people need lots of help, but that never seems to bother the HCAs. They simply slide around from one to another on their wheeled chairs, keeping an eye on them all.
    • You might expect a dining room full of elderly people with cognitive and/or physical challenges to be a pretty gloomy place. Not so. Most of them look forward to meal times and most of them usually enjoy the food. The servers are all so friendly and pleasant, calling the clients by their names and remarking about their clothes or hairstyles, congratulating on birthdays and anniversaries. All over the room there is uplifting chatter and merriment, the HCAs joining in as they stroll around watching out for anyone needing help or attention, gracefully solving any dilemma that crops up. The clients could hardly be better cared for, in my opinion. I am thankful that Peter is living here.

Metzger, Z. B. (2010). The Last Lap of the Long Run, Addendum to “On the Long Run”: An Account of our Travels with Dementia. This material is licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

Download Student Handout: Client and Family Experiences with Different Health Care Settings [PDF].

Strategies that Focus on Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making

1. Classroom Debate Activity

Invite students to engage in a debate about a topic discussed in this course. Divide the class into small groups of three to five students and assign two groups to each of the topics outlined; one group will take a pro position towards the topic and the other group will take a con position.

Ask each group to identify two to three reasons to support the position they have been assigned. Then, with the instructor acting as the moderator, the two groups will engage in a debate using the following structure:

  1. Each group provides a brief introduction to their position on the topic.
  2. In alternating format, the two groups present the two or three reasons identified to support their position.
  3. Each group provides a brief closing statement.

After the debate has concluded, briefly come together as a larger group and summarize the positions that were presented. Invite feedback from the students not involved in the debate and discuss further considerations. Alternate groups until each student has participated in a debate.

Debate Topics for Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice.

  1. HCAs can provide better care to clients in residential care settings (vs. community settings).
  2. HCAs are better supported in residential care settings (vs. community settings).
  3. Working in home support requires more critical thinking than working in facility settings.
  4. HCAs should be able to provide formal care services to their own family members.
  5. A HCA has the right to refuse to provide care to a client whose values or beliefs do not align with their own.
  6. A female client has the right to refuse care provided by a male caregiver.
  7. Diversity in the health care team (e.g., generational or educational differences) leads to challenges in the workplace.

2. Encouraging Reflective Practice

In order to develop HCA students’ ability to self-reflect and recognize and respond to their own self-development needs as care providers, consider introducing a model that can be used for reflective practice review, such as Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (1988).[1]

  • Description: What happened?
  • Feelings: What did you think and feel about it?
  • Evaluation: What were the positive and negative aspects?
  • Analysis: What sense can you make of it?
  • Conclusion: What else could you have done?
  • Action Plan: What will you do next time?

Working together as a class, apply the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle model to the following scenarios:

Today at your annual performance review, your supervisor tells you that she has received a report from another HCA that you were impatient with a client. The HCA stated that he had tried to approach you about the situation, but you would not discuss it. You remember that you had been feeling anxious that day about a personal matter and had felt bad for sighing loudly and saying, “I don’t have all day,” when your client, Mrs. Smith, was taking a longer time than usual to pick her outfit.

Today while you are assisting a client in the dining room, you overhear two of your co-workers recalling a story about another client and laughing loudly. Taken aback by the situation, you don’t approach your co-workers, but afterwards it bothers you and you are unsure of how to move forward.

As a recent HCA graduate, you are feeling excited about your new job at a residential care home. During the orientation session, you realize that the lift equipment being used is different from what you used during your clinical placement and despite the practice you receive during training, you still feel uncomfortable with using the equipment. You don’t want to leave a negative impression with your employer, so don’t speak up when the session leader asks if anyone has any questions or concerns.

You are an HCA who has recently been hired at a residential care home. Today you are assigned to work with Dorothy, an HCA who has been employed by the care home for 18 years. When you suggest that the two of you come up with a brief plan for how to schedule your morning, Dorothy insists that you follow her regular routine. Throughout the day, Dorothy makes all of the decisions and disregards any suggestions that you make, saying, “This is the way we do things here.” At the end of the day, you learn you will be working with Dorothy for the rest of the week.

3. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Process

Have students, either alone or with colleagues, discuss an issue that presents itself to them. One that might be appropriate is the following:

As you move towards completion of the HCA program, you will have to decide within which health care context you’d like to find a job and/or whether you might want to continue your education.

The STUDENT HANDOUT below will help students analyze this problem and come to a decision that best “fits” for them at this point in time.

Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Exercise

DIRECTIONS: Consider the following problem:

As you move towards completion of the HCA program, you will have to decide within which health care context you’d like to find a job and/or whether you might want to continue your education.

Use a problem-solving, decision-making process to analyze this problem and come to a decision that best fits for you at this point in time. Document each step in your process.

  • Analyze the problem:
    • What do you know about the choices available to you?
    • What are the pros and cons of employment in various settings (community, residential, acute care)?
    • What are the pros and cons of continuing your education at this time?
    • Are there other options you might consider?
    • Do you need more information? If so, how will you get it?
    • What are your particular talents, abilities, and preferences?
    • What roles and responsibilities do you have outside of work?
    • How do these fit with the choices you are considering?
    • What are your overall goals or desired outcomes? What is most important to you?

Use a table like the following to analyze the pros and cons (for YOU) of each choice.

Options Positive Consequences Negative Consequences
  • Based on your analysis, what is the best choice(s) for you at this time?
  • Based on your choice(s), what are your next steps? How will you evaluate your choice(s)?
  • Self-reflection: Was this a new way for you to come to a decision? How did it feel to you? Were you happy with the outcome? What did you learn from the process?

© Province of British Columbia. This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Download Student Handout: Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Exercise [PDF].

Strategies that Focus on Professional Approaches to Practice

1. Professional Practice Exercises

  1. Invite students, as a whole class or in smaller groups, to discuss what is meant by “professional approach to practice.” Ask them to consider what sorts of behaviours reflect a “professional” approach. As the ideas are forthcoming, write them on a whiteboard or flip chart. Afterwards, encourage students to determine if there are any themes or major descriptors of professional approaches to practice. These may include:
    • Respect for the client
    • Respect for self as a health care practitioner
    • Providing safe, competent care and assistance
    • Being organized
    • Functioning within defined parameters of one’s role
    • Being dependable, reliable, and honest
    • Working collaboratively with other members of the health care team
    • Being ethical
    • Being a reflective practitioner, recognizing and seeking ways to improve competence
  2. Introduce the Professional Behaviour Development Rubric and discuss how this type of tool could support students in their application of professionalism during the program.
  3. To further extend the activity, invite students to identify what they will need to know and be able to do in order to function in a professional manner as an HCA in relation to the descriptors they have identified. Ask each small group to examine one of the major elements of professional practice and discuss the learning needs related to it. They may use a graph such as the one below.
Major elements of a professional approach to practice What I’ll need to know and be able to do in order to reflect professionalism in my practice

Working collaboratively with other members of the health care team

Need to know and understand:

  • The health care system in British Columbia.
  • Roles and responsibilities of various members of the health care team within various settings.
  • The roles and responsibilities of HCAs within various settings.
  • Legal and defined limitations and obligations of HCAs.
  • What to do when a situation exceeds defined parameters of one’s role.
  • Supervision and delegation of tasks.
  • Lines of communication and how these might vary in different settings.
  • Basic concepts of team development and group processes.
  • Benefits and challenges of working in a team.
  • Facilitating effective team functioning – principles of collaboration.

Need to be able to:

  • Use caring, respectful communication with all members of the health care team.
  • Seek clarification, guidance, and assistance from other health team members when needed.
  • Contribute observations and information to care planning sessions.
  • Communicate changes in the client’s health status to the appropriate health team member in a timely fashion.
  • Communicate with confidence and appropriate assertiveness.
  • Offer support and assistance to other health team members as appropriate.
  • Report and record relevant information in a clear, concise, and objective manner.
  • Identify problems, concerns, and conflict within the health team and discuss these with appropriate team members.
  • Approach problems or conflict in a constructive manner.

2. Exploring Workplace Policies

  1. Working in pairs, have students complete online research about the work-based policies of an employer or health authority in B.C. The policies could be related to professional image; social media, online communication, and texting; respectful workplace including cyber bullying; and confidentiality of personal information. Students should be prepared to report back to the larger group, describing the policy, why it is important, and how it relates to the professional practice of a Health Care Assistant.
  2. Case Scenarios
    • Invite students to form small discussion groups and discuss situations in which an HCA is confronted with a workplace dilemma. Ask them to discuss the situations on the STUDENT HANDOUT below and put forward suggestions for how each situation should be handled based on what they have learned in the course. Using the links above, have them consider if there is a program or workplace policy or collective agreement that they could refer to for guidance.

Case Scenarios – Ethical Practice Considerations and Employer Policy

DIRECTIONS: Consider and discuss the following scenarios involving ethical dilemmas. Put forward suggestions based on what you have learned in the course. As relevant, go to your health authority website to refer to a policy that could be used for guidance.

You are an HCA student and it is your first day of clinical. After the afternoon debrief, you receive a text message from a fellow student that states the following, “Can’t stand working with Susan – slowest partner possible!” You notice that the text message is addressed to the entire clinical group, except for Susan. What do you think of this text? How will you respond?

You enjoy working with your colleague, Sandy, because she is friendly and outgoing with the health care team and clients of the care home where you work. You have noticed that Sandy spends a lot of time on her smartphone, checking texts and emails during her shift. One day you are eating lunch with her and she shows you some pictures of her posing with one of the clients that she has taken with her phone. She shares that she has posted these pictures to her social media page. What do you think about Sandy’s use of her phone at work? How will you respond to the current situation?

You are an HCA working in acute care. One day, while you are assisting a client, his daughter takes a video of you and the client on her cell phone. She tells you that you have been very helpful to her father and she would like to post the video on his recovery blog so that friends and family can see the progress he has been making. How will you respond to this situation?

Mr. Singh was a well-known business man and was considered a leader in your community. You got to know him and his family well as you served as one of his many care providers during his final illness. Shortly after his death, you are approached by one of your neighbours who is a newspaper reporter. She asks you for information about Mr. Singh. You were fond of Mr. Singh and would like him to be remembered for the fine gentleman he was. What will you do?

Mrs. Rosen is a 93-year-old woman who is physically frail but able to walk. She has been exhibiting signs of moderate dementia. When you are at work, at the complex care facility where Mrs. Rosen lives, Mrs. Rosen often follows you and tries to gain your attention. This makes it difficult for you to get your work completed, as Mrs. Rosen also follows you into the rooms of other clients. Another HCA suggests that you take Mrs. Rosen into to the lounge and tie her in a chair in front of the TV so she can’t bother you so much. What do you think of this suggestion and how would you respond to it? What are some other approaches that you could take?

Mrs. Subin mobilizes with a wheelchair and requires assistance with transferring. While eating lunch, she tells you that she needs to go to the bathroom right away. You are very busy, but you quickly take Mrs. Subin to the bathroom and assist her onto the toilet. After washing your hands, you rush back to the dining room. You forget to go back to help Mrs. Subin off the toilet. She gets tired of waiting, tries to get herself back onto the wheelchair and falls. Fortunately, Mrs. Subin is not badly hurt, just a bit shaken by the incident. What happened in this situation that might be legally compromising? How might the situation have been avoided? What can be done now?

Ms. Cedar is a 57-year-old client of your home support agency. Her diagnosis is multiple sclerosis. She is a bariatric client and has poor muscle control. She requires two HCAs to provide care on the days she has a shower. Today, you and your co-worker Jessie are helping Ms. Cedar with her shower. You notice that Jessie is quite rough in the way she handles Ms. Cedar. She also sounds angry when she talks to Ms. Cedar and raises her voice, even though Mrs. Cedar has no hearing loss. While you and Jessie are helping Ms. Cedar to transfer from the shower to her wheelchair using the ceiling lift, Ms. Cedar reaches out and puts her hand on Jessie’s arm for stability. Jessie slaps Ms. Cedar’s hand away, saying, “Don’t grab me.” What will you do at that moment? What will you do later?

Mr. Garret is a 77-year-old man who is a client on the acute medical ward where you work. His admitting diagnosis was pneumonia, and he is finishing a course of IV antibiotics. His history includes a CVA six years ago which resulted in swallowing difficulties and an inability to walk. He mobilizes using an electric wheelchair. He has a permanent J-tube for nutrition and can also have fluids by mouth if they are thickened to pudding consistency. Mr. Garret has not been off the ward very much since he has been in hospital the past few days. At home, he usually travels about his local community in his electric wheelchair, shopping or attending various activities. He is feeling much better today and has left the ward “to get some air.” When you go to the cafeteria to get your lunch, you see him sitting at a table with two other hospital clients. He has a large bottle of soda pop. You know this is not safe for him to drink because of his swallowing problems. What will you do?

© Province of British Columbia. This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Download Student Handout: Case Scenarios – Ethical Practice Considerations and Employer Policy [PDF].

3. Interprofessional Teamwork

The following case study is used with permission of Island Health.[2]

Jane is an HCA who works on an inpatient orthopaedic unit and has worked on this unit as a casual for the past three months. Jane is participating in a morning huddle and hears about Gladys, a patient who was admitted two days ago with a fractured right hip that she sustained when she slipped on an icy patch outside her church.

Gladys lives alone in a two-level townhome, with a cat. She has one son who lives in town, who reports that his mom has lost a lot of weight since her husband passed away six months ago. The team leader reports that Gladys is one day post-op from a right hemiarthroplasty (partial hip replacement); she does not have hip precautions and is weight bearing as tolerated (WBAT). Gladys would like to be discharged home with supports in a week.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify four members of the health care team who may be involved with Gladys’s care.
  2. What unique contributions might Jane expect from the members of the interprofessional health care team that would support the goal of being discharged home?
  3. What might Jane’s role be with Gladys’s care?
  4. How might Jane demonstrate interprofessional communication with the team?

4. Understanding Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities Activity

This activity is designed to support students in better understanding HCA rights and responsibilities, the role of the supervisor and supervision, and the importance of workplace orientation and training. It is recognized that there may be some overlap with content covered in other courses but given the overall view to occupational health and safety, it is being included in this HCA Introduction to Practice course.

It is suggested that educators:

  1. Invite students, as a whole class or in smaller groups, to identify the specific rights and responsibilities of workers. Elicit rights and responsibilities on the whiteboard or on a flip chart. See those listed below as a guide or provide the STUDENT HANDOUT below.
  2. After the brainstorming session, work with students to consider workplace safety and how rights and responsibilities can be considered specifically within the role of the HCA, using the questions and answers on the DISCUSSION GUIDE, if helpful.

Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities

Workers have the right to:

  • Information, instruction, and training about safe work procedures and how to recognize hazards on the job.
  • Supervision to make sure they work without undue risk.
  • Equipment and safety gear required to do the job safely (workers are responsible for providing their own clothing to protect themselves against the natural elements, general purpose work gloves, safety footwear, and safety headgear).
  • Refuse to perform tasks and work in conditions they think are unsafe, without being fired or disciplined for refusing.
  • Participate in workplace health and safety committees and activities.

As a worker, you are responsible for working without undue risk to yourself or others.

To keep safe on the job:

  • Don’t assume you can do something you’ve never done before. Ask your supervisor to show you how to do it safely before you begin work. Ask your employer for safety training.
  • Use all safety gear and protective clothing when and where required.
  • Always follow safe work procedures and encourage your co-workers to do the same.
  • Immediately correct unsafe conditions or report them right away to your supervisor.
  • Know how to handle any hazardous materials or chemicals you use on the job.
  • If you have any doubts about your safety, talk to your supervisor.
  • Tell your supervisor of any physical or mental conditions that may make you unable to work safely.

Source Document: WorkSafeBC (2013). Student WorkSafe Infosheet: Workplace Rights and Responsibilities.

Download Student Handout: Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities [PDF].

Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities


  1. Right to a safe workplace
    • Consider: What makes a workplace safe?
      • Employers, owners, supervisors, workers who act in ways which keep themselves and others free of injury and disease.
      • Work is planned, anticipating and taking steps to minimize hazards.
      • Direct care workers are supervised so that issues can be addressed as they arise.
      • Everyone is encouraged to report both negative (“I saw something that wasn’t right”) and positive (“I think I found a possible way of helping a client demonstrating response behaviours”) situations that they experience.
      • Information about known hazards (including patient/resident/client) is given to the right people.
      • Workers get the equipment needed to do their jobs properly.
      • There are adequate numbers of workers with appropriate skills to provide required care.
      • Provisions are made to respond when things go wrong to restore a safe situation.
      • Lessons are learned from incidents and mistakes.
      • Work is viewed to be “proper” vs. “improper” not “safe” vs. “unsafe.”
  2. Knowledge of the hazards they face
    • Consider: What types of hazards do HCAs face in their daily work?
      • Overexertion/musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) from mobilizing people and equipment.
      • Falls resulting from slipping and tripping.
      • Violence (could result from aggression, responsive, reactive, or challenging behaviours). Greater risk with people with cognitive impairment, some active mental health disorders (psychosis, delusions), alcohol/drug impairment or withdrawal.
      • “Life” hazards, such as walking into objects, getting hit by doors, etc.
      • Infectious diseases, such as norovirus, hepatitis, HIV.
      • Other possible hazards (e.g., Hazardous chemicals, radiation, cytotoxic drugs).
    • Consider: How might hazards look different between facility and community settings?
      • There may be more unknowns and fewer interventions in a home setting.
      • Most homes were never built as places to provide care.
      • There may be fewer people to talk to if you aren’t sure about a situation.
      • Hazards related to care in the community that you aren’t as likely to be exposed to in a facility include: driving, animals, hoarding, and exterior stairs.
      • Hazards may also impact the people being cared for, such as unsafe handling, behavioural challenges, fall hazards, etc. The hazard may have greater impact on the resident (after a fall, a worker may be bruised, but a resident may have a broken bone (or worse).
  3. Safe Equipment
    • Consider: What types of equipment keep HCAs safe?
      • Lifting equipment
      • Shoes
      • Safety engineered needles and sharps containers
      • Soap and hand sanitizer
  4. Training (including orientation)
    • Consider: What types of safety-related education or training might HCAs receive at work?
      • Orientation
      • Safe resident handling (equipment specific training)
      • Violence prevention, including expected action in the event of an incident
      • Infectious disease prevention
      • Bullying and harassment
      • Safe driving
    • Consider: What is typically included in an orientation?
      • The name and contact information for the new worker’s supervisor.
      • The employer’s and worker’s rights and responsibilities including the reporting of unsafe conditions and the right to refuse to perform unsafe work.
      • Workplace health and safety rules.
      • Hazards to which the new worker may be exposed, including risks from robbery, assault or confrontation.
      • Working alone or in isolation.
      • Violence in the workplace.
      • Personal protective equipment.
      • Location of first aid facilities and means of summoning first aid and reporting illnesses and injuries.
      • Emergency procedures.
      • Instruction and demonstration of the new worker’s work task or work process.
      • The employer’s health and safety program.
      • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).
      • Contact information for the occupational health and safety committee.
  5. Supervision
    • Consider: Who are supervisors?
      • Anyone who instructs, directs, and controls workers in the performance of their duties.
      • Not always obvious from their job title – it isn’t a co-worker.
    • Consider: What are supervisors’ responsibilities?
      • Ensure the health and safety of all workers under their direct supervision.
      • Be knowledgeable about the regulations applicable to the work being supervised.
      • Ensure that the workers under his or her direct supervision are made aware of all known or reasonably foreseeable health or safety hazards in the area where they work.
    • Consider: What traits would you like to see in an effective supervisor?
      • Takes a personal interest in my well-being.
      • Gathers information before acting.
      • Has good listening skills and empathy.
      • Has a presence during the workday, without micromanaging.
      • Provides feedback in private, in measures appropriate to the size of the issue.
      • Creates an atmosphere in which people are willing to admit to mistakes.


  • Consider: What are the responsibilities of the worker?
    • To protect their own health and safety as well as others affected by the worker’s acts or omissions.
  • Consider: Who are these “others”
    • Coworkers
    • Clients
    • Families/members of the public
  • Consider: As an HCA, how can you protect your own health and safety?
    • Follow instructions.
    • Use lifting equipment.
    • Back away from escalating situations.
    • Take a flexible approach to care.
    • Keep your vaccinations current.
    • Wash your hands, follow infection control protocols.
    • Stay within your role and parameters of practice.
    • Ask for clarification or help when you aren’t sure about the right thing to do.
    • Report little issues to your supervisor, before they become big ones.
    • Refuse work that you believe to be unsafe.
    • Do not work while impaired (sources of impairment can include fatigue, drugs or alcohol, medical conditions, distractions from your life outside work).

Download Discussion Guide: Workers’ Rights and Responsibilities [PDF].

Suggested Course Assessments

The course learning outcomes may be assessed by the following tasks:

  1. One or more quizzes or examinations that pertain to knowledge of the British Columbia health care system; workplace settings; roles and responsibilities of health team members; legal and ethical aspects of caregiver practice and human rights (Learning Outcomes #1, #2, and #3).
  2. An assignment in which students analyze one or more scenarios taken from practice situations. Students discuss the role of the HCA, rights and responsibilities, legal and ethical implications, and appropriate caring (person-centred) approaches (Learning Outcomes #1 and #3).
  3. A written assignment in which students describe the qualities and characteristics of an “ideal” care provider, with emphasis on how an “ideal” HCA works both independently and collaboratively. Each student will compare themselves to this ideal and use this comparison to delineate self-development needs (Learning Outcomes #1, #3, and #4).
  4. A written assignment in which students develop a personal mission statement related to their work as HCAs, and career goals, both short and long term. The students should then use the internet to look up mission and value statements of various employers. Using this information and their knowledge of the challenges and rewards of various workplace settings (community, residential, acute care), the students will describe where they would like to work and why and how this fits with their own beliefs, values, goals, and interests (Learning Outcome #5). Refer to Section 5: Sample Evaluation Tools.

Resources for Health Care Assistant: Introduction to Practice

Online Resources

Access to Information Act, RSC 1985, c A-1.

Adult Guardianship Act. RSBC 1996, c. 6.

B.C. Care Providers Association.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control. (2020). Ethics.

B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.

B.C. Housing. (2016). Assisted living residences.

Berta, W., Laporte, A., Deber, R., Baumann, A., & Gamble, B. (2013). The evolving role of health care aides in the long-term care and home and community care sectors in Canada.

Bright Knowledge from Brightside. (2017). What is reflective practice?

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives. (n.d.). Assigning and delegating to unregulated care providers.

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives. (2021). Licenced practice nurses-practice standards-working with health care assistants.

Canadian Human Rights Act. RSC, 1983, c. H-6.

Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative. (2010). A national interprofessional competency framework.

Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

Canadian Nurses Association. (2018). Interprofessional collaboration.

Community Care and Assisted Living Act, SBC 2002 c. 75.

Community Care and Assisted Living Act. Residential Care Regulation. [B.C. Reg. 96/2009.]

E-Health (Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act, BC 2008 c. 38.

Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996 c. 113.

First Nations Health Authority.

First Nations Health Authority. (2021). Cultural safety and humility.

Fraser Health Authority

Government of British Columbia, (n.d.). About B.C.’s health care system.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Accessing health care.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Assisted living in B.C.

Government of British Columbia. (2014). B.C. health care assistants core competency profile.

Government of British Columbia. Welcome to the B.C. Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.

Government of British Columbia. (2016). Employment standards.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Employment and workplace standards.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Guide to good privacy practices.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Health authorities.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Home and community care.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Human rights in British Columbia. What you need to know [Fact sheet].

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Human rights protection.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Long-term care services.

Government of British Columbia. (2013, February). My voice. Expressing my wishes for future health care treatment.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Pharmacare for B.C. residents.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Policy and standards.

Government of British Columbia. (2015). Primary and community care in B.C.: A strategic policy framework. Cross-sector discussion policy paper.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Professional regulation.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Protecting personal information.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Protection from elder abuse and neglect.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Regional health authorities.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Residents’ bill of rights.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Respect in the workplace and health.

Government of British Columbia. (2013). Together to reduce elder abuse – B.C.’s strategy: Promoting well-being and security for older British Columbians.

Government of Canada. (2016). Canada’s health care system.

Government of Canada. (2021, January). Federal labour standards.

Government of Canada. (2012). It’s not right: What you can do when abuse or neglect is happening to an older adult in your life.

Government of Canada, Department of Justice. (1982). The Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.

Government of British Columbia. (n.d.). Medical Services Plan of B.C.

Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Health.

Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Health. (n.d.). Assisted living registry.

Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Health Services. (2008). Personal assistance guidelines.

Health Employers Association of B.C. (n.d.). Collective agreements.

Health Employers Association of B.C. (n.d.). Labour relations.\

Health Professions Act, RSBC 1996 c 183.

Hospital Employees’ Union.

Hospital Employees Union (n.d.). Facilities collective agreement.

Hospital Employees Union (n.d.). Community health collective agreement.

Hospital Employees Union (n.d.). Care aides.

Interior Health.

Interior Health. (n.d.). Policies.


Island Health.

Island Health. (n.d.). Code of conduct and policies.

MasterClass. (2021). How to recognize the five stages of group development.

National Healthcareer Association. (n.d.). Healthcare job interview questions (and how to answer them).

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry.

Northern Health.

Northern Health (n.d.). Policies.

Office of the British Columbia Ombudsperson.

Office of the Seniors Advocate British Columbia.

Province of British Columbia. (2014). Elder abuse reduction curricular resource. BCcampus.

Provincial Health Services Authority.

Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia. (2014). Protecting adults from abuse, neglect, and self-neglect: Supporting self-determination for adults in British Columbia.,%20Neglect%20and%20Self%20Neglect.pdf

SafeCare BC (2020). Civility Matters.

Trentham, B., Andreoli, A., Boaro, N., Velji, K., & Fancott, C. (2010). SBAR: A shared structure for effective team communication: An implementation tool kit. (2nd ed.)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to action.

Vancouver Coastal Health.

Vancouver Coastal Health. (n.d.). Policies.

Workers Compensation Act, RSBC 2019 c. 1.

WorkSafeBC. (July, 2020). Back talk for workers.

WorkSafeBC. (n.d.). Bullying and harassment.

WorkSafeBC. (2012). Communicate patient information: Prevent violence-related injuries to health care and social services workers (for public bodies).

WorkSafeBC. (2012, October). Communicate personal information: Prevent violence related injuries to health care and social services workers (for non-public bodies).

WorkSafeBC. (2020). Industry claims analysis: Time-loss claims in B.C.

WorkSafeBC. (2020). Occupational health and safety regulation.

WorkSafeBC. (July, 2018). Point-of-care risk assessments in long-term care [Videos].

WorkSafeBC. (2013, December). Student WorkSafe Infosheet: Workplace rights and responsibilities.

WorkSafeBC. (2013, December). Toward a respectful workplace: A handbook on addressing and preventing workplace bullying and harassment.

WorkSafeBC. (2016, November). Worker orientation checklist for healthcare.

World Health Organization.

Young, J. M. & Everett, B. (2018, July/August). When patients choose to live at risk: What is an ethical approach to intervention? BCMJ, 60(6), 314–318.

Online Videos

Alberta Health Services. (2016, July 26). Patient and family centered care: Moments that make all the difference [Video]. YouTube.

Global News. (2014, April 3). Elder abuse victims speaks [Video]. YouTube.

Indeed. (2020, January 7). How to write a cover letter [Video]. YouTube. https://youtube/hrZSfMly_Ck

Indeed. (2020, January 3). Top interview tips: Common questions, body language and more [Video]. YouTube.

University of British Columbia. (2012, September 17). Resumes 101: Accomplishment statements [Video]. YouTube.

Online Learning Tools

The following materials are ready for use in the classroom. A brief description and estimated time to complete each activity is included for each.

Government of British Columbia. (2014). Elder abuse reduction curricular resource. BCcampus.

  • An instructor’s guide and presentation for teaching core competencies in elder abuse prevention, detection, and response in British Columbia (6–8 hours).

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives, (n.d.). Social media scenarios: Complaints to the college.

  • Three case studies describing inappropriate sharing of client information on social media (10–15 minutes for review and discussion).

Social Care Institute for Excellence. ( n.d.). Dignity in care videos.

  • A large selection of videos and messages that explore dignity in care. Topics include communication, practical assistance, social inclusion, pain management, choice and control, and nutrition for older adults (10–15 minutes for review and discussion of each video.)

Social Care Institute for Excellence. (2014). Dignity in care: Privacy [Video].

  • Video and messages for practice to illustrate the importance of privacy and confidentiality (10–15 minutes for review and discussion).

WorkSafeBC. (n.d.). My handbook.

  • Students can use My handbook to search for and store parts of OHS Regulation (e.g., violence in the workplace, Ergonomic (MSI) Requirements, etc.). *The handbook is only stored for the duration of the web session, but can be downloaded or printed for future reference.

WorkSafeBC. (2011, July). Supervision in health care: Know your responsibilities.

  • A series of four videos and a discussion guide describing how supervision in health care settings contributes to safety.

WorkSafeBC. (2013). Two-person care needs a planned approach.

  • A video and discussion guide describing how planning can increase safety when a two-person approach is used for care (15–20 minutes for review and discussion).

  1. Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle (1988). Retrieved from
  2. Island Health. (2012). Transitional Learning Continuum, Health Care Assistant in Acute Care Curriculum.