Camosun logo for print

School of Health and Human Services

Current Students - HCA Program Handbook

Health Care Assistant (HCA) Program Handbook

Last updated: September 12, 2018

The School of Health and Human Services is a place of warmth and caring. We are always looking to connect with future and current students so please don't hesitate to email if you have any questions.

Camosun College campuses are located on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. We acknowledge their welcome and graciousness to the students who seek knowledge here.

What's in the Program Handbook

Note: Numbering is consistent across all program handbooks. Unlisted sections do not apply to this program and have been hidden.

Once enrolled in a program, you're required to familiarize yourself with the information found in your school and program information pages.

Policies and expectations unique to our program are outlined in the following pages. Please ensure that you read the HHS Student Handbook for general school information.

Report missing or incorrect information

Navigating the Handbook

To search the handbook, use your browser's Find in Page function, keyboard shortcut Ctrl+F

To print or print to PDF, use keyboard shortcut Ctrl+P

Note: Downloaded versions of the student handbook are valid on the date of download. Critical changes or error corrections may happen at any time. All links are from the Camosun website ( unless otherwise noted.

1. Welcome

1.1 Chair's Message

We, the faculty and staff of the Continuing Care department welcome you! By choosing one of our programs you are demonstrating that you care about your community and that you have an interest and commitment to working with people. During the course of your studies we will partner with you to strengthen your knowledge, skills and values in preparation for your chosen career.

We hope you'll take the time to review the information in this handbook, as well as the Health & Human Services Student Handbook. They contain Camosun College policies and procedures, student resources and other important information to assist and guide you in making your educational experience a success. Get to know the campus, your instructors and your fellow students – they will all be part of your support team.

We are delighted that you have chosen the Health Care Assistant program as your area of study and will take great pleasure in getting to know you, while we work and learn together. We hope you enjoy your experience with us, and wish you success in all that you do! If you have any questions or concerns, please approach one of your instructors or drop by my office (WT 211) or the Department office (WT217) where the Program Assistant will assist you.


Ros Giles-Pereira
Acting Chair, Continuing Care Department

Contact the Continuing Care department.


2. Program Values

The Health Care Assistant Program is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function effectively as front-line care-givers, and respected members of the healthcare team, in community and facility settings.

Under the direction and supervision of a health professional, graduates provide person-centred care aimed at promoting and maintaining the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being of clients/residents.

Upon completion of the program, graduates are prepared to work in any level of continuing care, including: home support, adult day care, assisted living, and complex care (including special care units).

It is important to recognize that most but not all recipients of continuing care are older adults. An increasing number are in the old-old category (over 85 years of age). Many clients are experiencing advanced physical deterioration. Between 60% and 75% are experiencing moderate to severe mental decline.


3. Teaching Philosophy

3.1 Peer Group

Important sources of support within the programs are your fellow classmates. Many students find it helpful to "buddy" with another student or group of students - to study together, work together in the lab, encourage and support each other, discuss your experiences, answer each other questions. Some of the learning experiences are structured so that you will be working with another person or a small group.


4. Program Learning Outcomes

4.1 Performance Indicators

Graduates of the HCA program will demonstrate the following values, knowledge and skills.

Provide person-centred care and assistance that recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each individual resident or client: 

  1. View each resident as a whole, unique individual.
  2. Respect the individuality, independence and dignity of residents and families.
  3. Display respect and sensitivity to individuals and families from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
  4. Display a non-judgmental approach in all aspects of care provision.
  5. Support the autonomy and uniqueness of residents and their families.
  6. Encourage residents to share their thoughts, feelings and preferences.
  7. View the older person as an individual possessing a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom.
  8. Base care and assistance functions on the resident's unique needs, capabilities and interests.
  9. Provide clear information to the resident about the care or service to be provided and deal with questions or concerns in a calm, caring fashion.
  10. Encourage residents to be involved in their own care.
  11. Support resident independence. 
    1. Encourage residents to make choices and participate in decisions about their care, as they are able. 
    2. Encourage family involvement, as appropriate, in the care of their family member. 
    3. Observe family members for signs of stress and consult with an appropriate health care professional for direction. 
    4. Report abusive or neglectful situations promptly to a health professional for appropriate action. 

Use an informed problem-solving approach to provide care and assistance that promotes the physical, psychological, social, cognitive and spiritual well-being of residents and families: 

  1. Assess the resident and situation using informed observation, reflection and communication.
  2. Observe changes in the resident's health status and report these changes to the appropriate health care professional.
  3. Identify priorities for care within the care plan.
  4. Be guided by knowledge of health, healing, human needs and human development.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnectedness of physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of health and healing.
  6. Display an understanding of the importance of the family in health & healing.
  7. Display an awareness of the role of culture, diversity and life experience in health and healing.
  8. Utilize appropriate health team members as resources to augment one's own problem- solving and decision-making.
  9. Follow the care plan for each resident.
  10. Consult with health team members to review and evaluate care and make modifications to the care plan as needed.
  11. Carry out recording requirements in a timely fashion.
  12. Use clear, current, factual, objective and relevant language when reporting or documenting resident information.
  13. Utilize creativity when required to adapt care and service to a variety of contexts.

Provide care and assistance for residents experiencing cognitive and/or mental health challenges: 

  1. Organize, administer and evaluate care and service for residents experiencing cognitive and/or mental health challenges.
  2. Base choices and actions on a sound understanding of the physical, psycho-social processes of dementia.
  3. Base choices and actions on an understanding of environmental influences on behaviours.
  4. Tailor interactions and responses based on an understanding of common mental health challenges.
  5. Cope constructively with unanticipated or unusual situations.
  6. Identify when crisis intervention skills are required and respond appropriately.

Interact with other members of the healthcare team in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals:

  1. Use caring, respectful communication with all members of the health care team.
  2. Seek clarification, guidance and assistance from other health team members when needed.
  3. Contribute observations and information to care planning sessions.
  4. Communicate changes in the resident's health status to the appropriate health team member so that the care plan is kept current.
  5. Communicate with confidence and appropriate assertiveness.
  6. Offer support and assistance to other health team members as appropriate.
  7. Report and record relevant information in a clear, concise and objective manner.
  8. Use appropriate lines of communication in accordance with agency, facility or employer standards and policies.
  9. Identify problems, concerns and conflict within the health team and discuss these with appropriate team members in a timely function.
  10. Approach problems or conflict in a non-threatening way.
  11. Respond non-defensively to criticism or confrontation.

Communicate clearly, accurately and in sensitive ways with residents and families: 

  1. Demonstrate an ability to write and speak English in a manner that can be easily understood.
  2. Use English in such a way as to be clearly understood.
  3. Use appropriate volume, tone and vocabulary.
  4. Use language and a communication style that is appropriate to the resident, family or situation.
  5. Identify barriers to communication and make efforts to improve communication.
  6. Interact in a manner that respects the rights, needs, interests and preferences of others.
  7. Observe common courtesies such as addressing the resident and family member by name of choice and speaking in a manner to be readily understood.
  8. Use touch appropriately and respectfully.
  9. Use humour appropriately.
  10. Maintain appropriate interpersonal and professional boundaries.
  11. Respect and adapt to a family and resident's cultural background.
  12. Recognize non-verbal communication.
  13. Use non-verbal attending skills including eye contact, body positioning and attentive facial expression.
  14. Use active listening skills.
  15. Use appropriate self-disclosure.
  16. Utilize effective approaches to conflict management.
  17. Demonstrate an understanding of the stresses experienced by residents and families as they are reflected in communication patterns.
  18. Recognize abusive communication and report in accordance with agency/ facility or employer standards and policies.

Provide personal care and assistance in a safe, competent and organized manner: 

  1. Wear safe and appropriate clothing, including identification.
  2. Adhere to the resident's care plan.
  3. Assess the resident and the environment prior to commencing care.
  4. Adjust environments, as appropriate, to ensure safety and to promote efficiency.
  5. Set priorities or make adjustments to the care process based on resident requirements.
  6. Organize and implement care according to resident needs.
  7. Organize time and equipment for safety and efficiency.
  8. Base choices and actions on a sound knowledge of asepsis and body mechanics.
  9. Adhere to infection control practices.
  10. Report, verbally and in writing, unsafe work environments.
  11. Encourage independence of the client/resident as much as possible.
  12. Encourage family involvement in care whenever possible.
  13. Recognize and make wise choices in situations of potential risk to self or others.
  14. Encourage resident communication and engagement during personal care.
  15. Maintain resident privacy and dignity.
  16. Assist the resident with personal hygiene and grooming.
  17. Assist the resident with movement and ambulation.
  18. Use aids to promote comfort, relaxation and sleep.
  19. Take and record vital signs accurately.
  20. Provide specialized, sensitive care for the dying resident in line with palliative care principles.
  21. Exhibit flexible and adaptable behaviour.

Recognize and respond to own self-development, learning and health enhancement needs:

  1. Identify own learning and personal/ professional development needs.
  2. Invite feedback from other health team members related to own performance.
  3. Collaborate with appropriate health professionals to identify and utilize opportunities for specific learning and training enhancement.
  4. Identify and utilize opportunities to learn from residents, families, and colleagues.
  5. Share new learning with other health team members.
  6. Reflect on own choices and behaviours as they contribute to physical, psychological, social, cognitive and spiritual health.
  7. Strive to demonstrate increasingly healthful self-care practices.

Perform the care-giver role in a reflective, responsible, accountable and professional manner:

  1. Comply with legal parameters of practice for HCA.
  2. Foster and uphold the mission, policies and standards of the care facility.
  3. Collaborate with other members of the health team.
  4. Use appropriate lines of communication.
  5. Clarify one's own role to others when necessary.
  6. Demonstrate dependability, reliability, honesty and integrity. 
  7. Reflect on one's own values, beliefs and standards in relation to care-giving practice. 
  8. Recognize how one's own beliefs, values, standards and cultural background may be different or similar to those of residents, and families. 
  9. Recognize how one's own beliefs and values influence one's responses to residents, families and situations. 
  10. Maintain a non-judgmental position in light of difficult or unusual resident or family situations. 
  11. Advocate on behalf of the rights, needs, interests and fair treatment of residents and their families. 
  12. Maintain resident and family confidentiality. 
  13. Set appropriate personal boundaries in interactions with residents and family members. 
  14. Promote own personal safety, health and well-being. 
  15. Challenge questionable actions or decisions made by other health team members. 
  16. Champion the role of the HCA on the healthcare team. 

Provide care and assistance for residents experiencing complex health challenges: 

  1. Base choices and actions on a sound understanding of normal anatomy and physiology and common changes associated with aging. 
  2. Base choices and actions on a sound understanding of common challenges to health and healing. 
  3. Organize, administer and evaluate care and service for residents with complex health challenges. 
  4. Assist residents and families to maintain independent functioning within their capabilities. 
  5. Provide caring and supportive end-of-life care for residents in a manner that promotes comfort and dignity. 


6. Professional Behaviour

6.2 Appropriate Use of Electronic Devices/Mobile Devices

Cell phones are not permitted in the lab or classroom unless given prior permission by the instructor. Any emergency calls for students may be directed through the School of Health & Human Services Administration office at 250-370-3161.


7. Classroom, Lab, or Clinic Etiquette

7.2 Grading Systems

Graduation Criteria

Students must achieve a minimum of 70% (B-) in each theory course and each clinical placement must be successfully completed and passed in order to graduate from the program. The School reserves the right to change or cancel any provision or requirement at any time.

Re-entry to the Program

The HCA program must be completed within 18 months of starting the program.

7.5 Dress Code and Guidelines

The manner in which you care for and present yourself reflects your respect for the residents and staff with whom you work. It is important that you present a clean, neat and tidy image of yourself as a caregiver and as a representative of the HCA program.

Dress Code for Uniform, when in clinical

Camosun College HCA uniform (a washable cardigan with ¾ length sleeves is permitted).

Dress Code for Non-Uniform, when in community practicums

Generally, the dress code for community practicums is casual professional attire. Please contact your site to ask about their dress code before you start.

Students coming to clinical/practicum with incomplete or unkempt uniforms may be refused admission to the clinical site.

The following dress code expectations apply to both uniform and non-uniform sites:

White or black shoes with soft soles and rubber heels, closed toes, low heels and closed back (running shoes with solid uppers acceptable). For infection control purposes shoes are to be used exclusively for clinical placement. Clogs and sandals are not acceptable.
Name tag
Available for purchase through the Camosun Bookstore. Must be worn in all clinical/community settings unless students have received specific instructions otherwise. Name tag will have first name only on it.
No jewellery is permitted in a clinical area, with the following possible exceptions: Medi-alert bracelets/necklaces single, plain wedding band small stud earrings, silver, gold, pearl
The VIHA Hand Hygiene policy now specifies that: "Wrist watches, bracelets, bangles or other wrist adornments must be removed when caring for patients (exception: Medical Alert Bracelets) as they inhibit correct hand hygiene".
Clean, neat and kept up off collar and face. Long hair tied back or in a bun; no long ponytails. No hair extensions to be worn in clinical.
Full beards are not permitted (due to mask fit requirements); moustaches/goatees must be trimmed short and must fit within a mask.
Short, clean. No nail polish. No artificial nails or nail extensions.
Minimal make-up
Body Odour
Unpleasant body odours from poor hygiene are unacceptable. Please remember to bathe and use deodorant.
No perfume/cologne or aftershave to be worn in community, clinical or transition situations. Care facilities are perfume-free zones.

It is expected that uniforms will not be worn outside the hospital other than travelling to and from agency. Shoes must only be worn within the agency. If you need to stop somewhere on your way to or from clinical, you must change into civilian clothes.

7.7 Clinic/Lab Rules

The lab is for you to practice the skills you will be learning. During the program, you will have scheduled class times in the lab. If you would like to book practice time during the week, "open lab practice" may be booked Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm with the Program Assistant if the lab is free. After 4pm or on the weekend, an instructor must be in the lab to supervise. Your instructor will book this lab time.

Please adhere to the lab use guidelines posted in the lab.

7.8 Clinic/Lab Information

Please note: All HCA students must read and understand practice guidelines prior to commencing each practicum situation. Any questions for clarification may be directed to the practicum instructors.

  • HCA students are considered supernumerary on any unit to which they are assigned. They will not take the place of paid personnel.
  • Students may perform all procedures independently after they have been determined competent to do so by the instructor. Approval will be given to students either verbally or in writing.
  • Students may use mechanical tubs without supervision after the instructor has been satisfied that they are competent and safe. There must always be two people present when using mechanical devices even after the student has been deemed competent.
  • When using mechanical devices and mechanical transfer devices, students must be supervised by regular staff or an instructor until the student has been certified competent and safe. There must always be two people present when using mechanical devices even after the student has been certified competent. The second person may be another student who has also been deemed competent by the instructor.
  • Students must always notify the instructor of any safety incidents that occur in the practicum setting.
  • Students may perform one person transfers without supervision once the instructor is satisfied with the students' competencies in this skill.
  • Students will respect a resident/client's right to confidentiality at all times.
  • Students will wear their student identification when doing home, community or facility visits.
  • Students may not witness consents or any other legal documents.
  • Students will not chew gum at any time while in practicum, community or transition practicums.
  • If a student is going to be late or absent from a practicum shift, they must phone the practicum site prior to the shift starting. They must also leave their name and a contact number where the instructor can call them.
  • If an instructor does not arrive at the practicum site for any reason, students must depart from the site immediately. After leaving the site, students should phone the instructor for further direction.


8. Practicum Guidelines

Students will find information on their practicum expectations within their practical skills and practicum course materials. Consult with your instructor or Chair if you are unable to locate your supporting documents.

  1. Clinical and Community Placement Protocol
  2. Student Safety and orientations on practicums
  3. Practice Guidelines/Professional Standards of Practice
  4. Practice Appraisals


10. Info for Graduates

10.1 Licensing & Professional Association Information

BC Care Aide & Community Health Care Registry

Graduates must apply to the BC Care Aide & Community Health Care Registry and obtain a registry number in order to work as a Health Care Assistant in BC.


Contact Us
Camosun College Lansdowne
3100 Foul Bay Rd
Victoria BC V8P 5J2
Camosun College Interurban
4461 Interurban Rd
Victoria BC V9E 2C1
  • 250–370–3000
  • 1–877–554–7555 (toll-free)

©1996–2019 Camosun College | Victoria BC, Canada | Printed: August 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm Change Everything logo for print