What is the difference between a supportive care assistant and a personal care provider (PSW, HCA)?

The roles are very different. The supportive care assistant role was developed as part of a work integrated training program. Students will support personal care providers (PSW, HCA) and the health care team. The role is limited to non-clinical activities such as:

  • Assisting with meals
  • Assisting with cleaning and disinfecting
  • Stocking materials required by clients and health care staff
  • Making clients’ beds, cleaning their rooms and other areas
  • Providing companionship, comfort, and support
  • Assisting with and accompanying clients as they move about
  • Participating in activities with clients

Personal care provider programs are much longer and as a result they have more responsibility and carry out more complex tasks, such as taking vital signs.

What does the Supportive Care Assistant Program look like?

The program has been developed as an asynchronous on-line program with a work placement. The program is based on five main competencies that have been developed collaboratively with 14 colleges and institutes from across Canada.

The six-week online portion is composed of five modules that each student works through. Modules include: Professionalism; Client and Family-Centred Assistance; Communication; Supportive Assistance; and Infection Control and Safety. Each module will take approximately 20 hours to complete and can be done at the student’s pace.

A sixth module is focused on the student’s work placement and is worked on concurrently with the first five modules and until completion of the program. The work placement module provides the materials and resources required by the student during their work placement.

After completing the required modules, students will be connected to an employer who will provide 560 hours of paid employment over a four-month period.

Once they have successfully completed all the requirements, students will be granted a micro-certificate.

What is a micro-certificate?

A micro-certificate is a formal way of recognizing the knowledge and skills that are very specific to the workplace or industry. It is often recognized with a badge: a digital representation of competencies that can be shared with a link to a platform that provides context and verification. The certificate will be awarded by the college or institute delivering the program at the end of the work placement.

Who has been consulted for the development of the Supportive Care Assistant program?

Initially, CICan staff consulted with a wide number of stakeholders from across Canada. The Government of Canada, in turn, consulted with the provinces and territories. Following that process, 14 college representatives from across Canada formed a working group under the direction on CICan to design the program. Each college was tasked to consult with their provincial stakeholders to collect input during the development of the learning competencies. Additionally, a survey was distributed to over 600 stakeholders to validate the competencies.