Annual Report 2019
Mission and Focus
The Alliance of Health Care Assistants in Ireland is a membership organisation set up to support Health Care Assistants. The aim of AHCAI is to improve the standard of healthcare, delivered to the general public, by working to improve the education and training of Health Care Assistants (HCAs) and to be the voice of this discipline.
We registered as a not-for-profit company in November 2015, CRO 572079 and were registered as a charity in May 2019, CR116067.
We have a website and Facebook page in which we try to keep HCAs informed about matters relevant to their discipline: www.ahcai.ie We provide free Continuing Professional Development courses for our members for which they receive a certificate of course completion. There are activities for HCAs to carry out with care recipients, information to support the HCA such as parenting articles, health information and job vacancies.
In 2012 HIQA directed that all HCAs employed in 2014 should have the FETAC Level 5 Major Award in Healthcare. In 2016, when they published the updated version of the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland, they withdrew that directive. There is currently no national requirement for the training of HCAs. Each individual employer sets their own educational standards.
In 2017 a private sector healthcare industry led consortium invited AHCAI to participate in the development of a proposal for a two-year HET level 6 apprenticeship programme for HCAs. The course aims to equip HCAs with enhanced knowledge and skills in the area of health and illness and competence in a range of clinical skills. The proposal was accepted by the Apprenticeship Council and announced, among other apprenticeships, by the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton on 8th December 2017. Since then AHCAI has been part of the working group producing the occupational profile and programme curriculum for validation by QQI. It is hoped that this programme will begin in the first quarter of 2020.
AHCAI has produced a code of practice which we encourage our members to adopt in the interest of raising standards of practice in working with care recipients.
AHCAI’s long-term objective is to have this advanced group of HCAs regulated with a national scope of practice, code of practice and code of ethics creating a unique and respected discipline which will work alongside other practitioners as a key part of the health care team. HCAs will continue to work to the Registered Nurse (RGN) and can relieve the RGN of many routine clinical tasks to concentrate on more complicated tasks at the upper end of RGNs scope of practice.
Developing this second step on a career path for HCAs will improve recruitment and retention because the system will have to recognise and respect the HCAs for the vital part they play in the healthcare system. It will be a career that school leavers may consider taking up.
Our vision over the next number of years for the current HCAs who carry out personal care is that they will have a national standard of training without which they will not be permitted to work as an HCA. We aim to seek registration for them with a central governing body.
A very successful first conference was held in February 2019 in Dublin. We had a range of speakers including a very interesting and informative presentation from a care recipient on what it was like to receive care and how it affected her. Two HCAs working in a residence for deaf people spoke about working through the medium of sign language and gave us a demonstration. As we are a national organisation we will hold a conference in each region in turn. Our plan is to hold our next annual conference in Cork City in 2020.
As an organisation we need to increase our membership to a representative number to speak for all HCAs when the time comes to seek regulation. To assist us with this we hope to engage an intern from a business school who can guide us in our marketing efforts. The intern won’t cost us but I expect there will be costs in advertising, printing and getting the word out.
Our sponsors for 2019 were Abbott Nutrition, Home Care Plus, Comfort Keepers, Roches Pharmacy.
Anne Marie Lee