Learn the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to work as direct client care providers in any level of continuing care, including home support, adult day care, assisted living, private care, complex care and acute care. The program consists of theoretical and laboratory components in the classroom, as well as a supervised practicum in long-term care and community settings.
Tuition and Fees
2021-22: $3,576.11 (Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Penticton), $3,623.79 (Vernon)
- Fees include all mandatory fees: Activity fee, Health & Dental, Student Association fee, Education Technology fee, Development fee.
- All amounts are approximate and are subject to change.
The 745-hour program is approximately a 25-week or six-month program (based on a typical 30-hour instruction week) designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function effectively as direct client care providers and respected members of the health-care 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 successful completion of the program, graduates are prepared to work in any level of continuing care, including: home support, adult day care, assisted living, complex care (including dementia care units) and acute care.
Health Care Assistants often find careers in home support, assisted living, cognitive care, private care and mental health care, as well as health support services and first aid.
COVID-19 has increased the need for health care assistants in long-term care and assisted living services. Through the Health Career Access Program (HCAP), the Province of B.C. will pay for your post-secondary education. New hires in the program start in a health care support worker position and receive paid training that leads to full qualification as a Health Care Assistant. Discover eligibility and apply for Health Career Access Program online.
Note to applicants: you must first apply to the Health Career Access Program through the provincial government. If you are accepted into the program, then Interior Health will reach out to you with a welcome and orientation package which will include further instructions. In the meantime, do not submit an application directly to Okanagan College. For questions, contact HCAP Support by email.
The June-start HCAP cohort is full, and applicants will now be seated in future cohorts. Successful applicants for the September intake can expect communication from Admissions in July. We are still accepting applications and expect all applicants from this point forward to be seated in the January 2022 cohort.
B.C. secondary school graduation or equivalent, or
19 years of age and out of secondary school for one year as of the first day of classes.
All HCA program applicants are required to demonstrate English language proficiency (English Competency Self Declaration Form). Domestic and/or international applicants who are non-native English speakers will need to take a standardized proficiency assessment to confirm communicative competency in all four language skills areas (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
Domestic and/or international applicants:
Native English speakers requirement:
English 10 or equivalent;
Evidence of one of the following:
- Proof of completion of Grade 10 English; or
- College courses determined to be equivalent to completion of Grade 10 English (or higher) by post-secondary institutions. Applicants must produce transcripts as evidence of completion. A minimum of a C grade is acceptable.
- Canadian Adult Achievement Test (CAAT): Reading Comprehension 35/50, Spelling 23/32
- Language Placement Index (LPI): The three individual scores (Sentence Structure, English Usage, and Reading Comprehension) must total a minimum of 20, out of a maximum possible score of 40. Essay level of 4, with a minimum essay score of 24/40
- Accuplacer: Grade 10 level or higher Recommended Cut Scores*: Reading Comprehension 60, Sentences Skill 55, Writeplacer 4
Non-Native English speakers requirement:
Evidence of one of the following test scores:
- The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): test must be within the last two years, IBT only -- Overall score of 76 with no score lower than 20 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 18 in Reading and Writing
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic or General -- test must be within the last two years: Overall score of 6 with a minimum of 6 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 5.5 in Reading and Writing
- Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLB PT): test must be within the last year : Listening 7, Speaking 7, Reading 6 and Writing 6 - Note: a CLB Report Card from a LINC Program may also be accepted.
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP): Academic or General -- Academic: Aggregate score of 4L or better, with 4L or better in Speaking and Listening and 3H or better in Reading and Writing. General: CELPIP 7 or better in Speaking and Listening and CELPIP 6 in Reading and Writing
- Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Overall Score of 60, with no section less than 50
*educational institutions may conduct their own predictive validity studies to confirm appropriate cut scores
It is recommended that students also complete a Grade 11 Science or ABE Science at the 70 or 80 Level.
Applicants must provide evidence of successful completion of a Red Cross Standard First Aid or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid that includes Basic Life Support, CPR Level C no more than 12 months before admission.
A criminal record check clearance from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Criminal Records Review Office. Okanagan College's admission offices will provide applicants with instructions and forms for applicants to submit to the Solicitor General's Office and a deadline for the College to receive the clearance letter. Applicants should only initiate their criminal record check when instructed by Admissions. Failure to provide a clearance letter by the deadline will result in a cancellation of the applicant's admission application.
Applicants must provide evidence of a negative tuberculin test, taken no more than six months before the date of application (or evidence of appropriate follow-up if the test was positive.)
- Applicants must have successfully completed the provincially-approved FOODSAFE training program.
- Proof of meeting current immunizations I vaccinations as per health care organization policies I guidelines (or signed vaccination exemption form, except TB). Applicants are advised that, if they are unable to provide proof of immunization or immunity they may be restricted or even excluded from practice settings based on the Health Facility or Health Authority policies and procedures for non-immunized students on placement. This information will be collected on the first day of class by the instructor.
Attendance at a program orientation day is strongly recommended. Applicants will be notified of the exact date.
Applicants are advised that students in this program engage actively in laboratory practice, acting both as patient/client and as caregiver in simulated situations. Notwithstanding all specific program prerequisites, Okanagan College reserves the right to deny admission to any applicant when, in the opinion of OC, there is sufficient and substantiated evidence, medical or otherwise, to conclude that by granting admission OC would jeopardize the safety of clients under student care or would otherwise be negligent in providing for the safety and well-being of clients, agency staff or other students.
Location and Dates:
Kelowna Campus - August, January, May
Vernon - October to April
Penticton - October to April
Salmon Arm - May to October
Program Length: 25 weeks
Tuition - Students may enrol in a part-time program if space is available after all full-time students are enrolled. Fees are assessed by component. Full-time student fees are based on vocational rates.
Textbooks - $350 approximately
Uniforms - $250 approximately
Other Expenses - Students must provide a suitable uniform, duty shoes, name tags and OC badge. Students are responsible for their own transportation.
Practicum, Extern and Clinical Experiences
Practicum, extern and clinical experiences are an integral part of health and social services programs. Locations are throughout the Okanagan Valley. Students must arrange for their own transportation to and from practicum, extern and clinical sites. In most cases, that means a driving license and access to a reliable vehicle is required. Travel expenses are the student's responsibility.
Hours vary from six to nine hours per day during the practicum for a total of 30 hours per week.
* Countries with English language systems / institutions (where English is a primary, official language and the language used for education):
British Virgin Islands
St. Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caico Islands
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
United States of America (USA)
US Virgin Islands
1Applicants educated in Quebec at an institution where the language of instruction was not English, must meet the current English language proficiency requirements.
A minimum passing grade (P) for HCA 103 and HCA 107; and a minimum grade of 70% in all other courses in the program outline.
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