There are up to 80,000 Healthcare Assistants working in the Republic. As a body, you are unregulated, have no national written scope or code of practice and no career pathway. Yet you play a vital part in the delivery of the Health Services nationally
The Alliance is your independent organisation, listening to your voice with a view to supporting you in the development of your discipline. Membership, for you personally in the short term, gives access to free courses for your continuing professional development, up to date news items and articles on our website. The Alliance, with a build-up of membership, is the organisation through which your discipline will seek regulation. With regulation comes a code of practice and core scope of practice plus set standards of education and training, and a fitness to practice mechanism.
United as members of the Alliance we have a strong voice to contribute to the decision-making processes already in existence looking at the future role of the Healthcare Assistant.
EXPANDING THE ROLE OF THE HEALTHCARE ASSISTANT IN IRELAND (AHCAI)
A POSITION PAPER
Healthcare Assistants began to be employed in ever increasing numbers in this country from the 1990’s and today they are pivotal to the delivery of care in all sectors of the health services nationally. Their contribution is vital to the continuance of the service however, their potential is largely untapped.
To date the discipline of Healthcare Assistant is unregulated, has no national, written scope or code of practice and the requirement to have a QQI level 5 qualifications in Healthcare has been withdrawn by HIQA as a standard for qualification. The suitability of the individual for the role of HCA is up to the individual employer.
It is difficult to assess the numbers of Healthcare Assistants working, in both the public and the private sectors of the Health Services Nationally. However, in calculating, as far as possible, the numbers in the various sectors it is believed to be in excess of 80,000.
The members of the AHCAI believe it is time the role of HCA was accepted as a discipline. The greater numbers of HCAs have chosen this work because they enjoy the caring relationship; providing essential care while supporting the patient in carrying out the activities of daily living. Many would like to have a career path developed allowing them to extend their role by taking on basic clinical duties. This would:
- free the registered nurse to take on more complicated tasks at the upper end of his/her scope of practice
- enable more homecare packages to be rolled out
- Many outpatient’s departments and some clinics could be run by Healthcare Assistants
- Ensure a more educated alert staff in nursing homes and day centres
We envisage the HCA as being a regulated practitioner having:
- A national, written, core scope of practice;
- A national written code of practice.
- A national curriculum
In applying for registration, we aim to ensure that Healthcare Assistants are involved and consulted in the process of setting up the register.
AHCAI have been working for the past 18 months on a steering group of stakeholders in the healthcare industry to have HCAs trained in the apprenticeship system at QQI Level 6. The proposal for this training has been accepted and was announced by Minister Richard Bruton on Friday 8th December 2017. Much work has yet to be done in preparing the curriculum and setting up the structure for this two-year training which will be delivered by Griffith College throughout the country. We expect the first students will be accepted on the course in September 2018. Some of the competencies proposed for this training are as follows:
- Competence in the use of the National Early Warning Signs guidelines
- Escalation protocol for alerting a problem with EWS
- Pain assessment, recording and reporting to the RN for treatment.
- Diabetic and blood glucose monitoring
- Chronic wound dressings
- Pressure sore prevention
- Respiratory care including oxygen therapy and nebulizers
- Continence care, basic urinalysis and glucometer use plus knowledge of a range of products used in the management of incontinence
- Bowel care
- Colostomy and urostomy care
- Vacuum (VAC) Dressing and an ability to assist the registered nurse in applying/changing same.
- Recording of ECGs
Some hospitals have already trained up and signed off their HCA staff in these tasks and closely supervise their implementation.
When HCAs are regulated and their discipline accepted and respected as a career with a career path as follows:
Level 1 Foundation Course QQI Level 5
- Personal care working as part of a team.
Level 2 Two-year Apprenticeship Training
- Personal and basic clinical care
- Mentor and train student HCAs on placement;
- Manage a team of HCAs in a unit or department;
- Work effectively and take a more active part in a multidisciplinary team.
Level 3 QQI Management Course at level 7
- Manage a residential care home (This is not a nursing home)
- Manage a day centre for elderly or cognitively impaired patients.
HCAs will then be an even greater asset to the Health Services Nationally.
We do not envisage seniority by length of service but rather by training and qualification.
It is not our intention to work for you but to work with you. Join us and work to develop your discipline into a recognised and respected career.
Anne Marie Lee