Innovative scheme to advance role of healthcare assistants

by Gazette Reporter

 A new and innovative apprenticeship programme that will advance the role of healthcare assistant for care of the older persons launched by last week by Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris.

The Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner programme allows healthcare assistants to attain QQI Level 6 qualification and is approved by the Apprenticeship Council, offering participants the opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge and strengthen their career pathway.

The programme concept was initially proposed in 2018 and was developed through Griffith College in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland and other consortium members.

Around 250 apprentices are expected to take part over the next three years, fulfilling employment within nursing homes while learning at Griffith College. 42 men and women already commenced their participation in July and November 2021.

The two-year programme requires the apprentices to learn healthcare assistant skills while working within an older person care setting and attend 30 classroom days a year at Griffith College that supplement the practical skills gained. Expanded knowledge, skills and competencies are attained by the apprentice healthcare assistants pursuing the Level 6 accreditation, with the defined pathway supporting them in achieving stability and providing motivation to complete the programme. For nursing homes and healthcare employers, the apprentices will develop advanced skills to support care of the older person, providing enhanced support to nurses and strengthening the quality of care within the setting.  

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO stated: “There is requirement to ensure our education system is responsive to social care needs of our ageing population. This programme marks an important milestone in the development of the healthcare assistant profession. It will advance the professionalism and the skillset of the role, and enhance its standing as a profession.”

Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, President of Griffith College, added: “In developing this national apprenticeship, we have worked closely with the healthcare consortium to develop a practical and applied qualification that will enhance the skills and competencies of their staff in what is a crucial sector of our society.”

Eileen Doyle, a Healthcare Assistant at Knockeen Nursing Home in Co Wexford is a programme participant. She declared: “The comprehensive structure of the course is leading to a better understanding of why we do what we do at work and the holistic interconnectedness of all aspects of healthcare. The overall feeling from everyone involved is one of positivity, encouragement and progression.”

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