Program Information

  • Program Length
    24 Weeks
  • Credential
  • Location Offered
    Cowichan, Nanaimo, tiwšɛmawtxʷ (Powell River)

Lead with a compassionate heart in a rewarding career as a professional caregiver. The VIU Health Care Assistant Certificate program prepares students for in-demand careers with Canada’s aging population.

This 24-week full-time program combines in-class instruction with hands-on experience in nursing labs and clinical instruction that is uniquely enriched with Aboriginal ways of knowing and being. Upon graduation students find employment opportunities working in complex care facilities, extended care units, acute care, home support agencies and residential settings.

Certified Health Care Assistants graduate as important members of health care teams, helping individuals and families live safe, healthy, and comfortable lives.

Program Overview

Note: The Health Care Assistant program was formerly called the Home Support/Resident Care Attendant program.

This program is designed to provide students with the theory and skills required to become a caregiver. The major focus is in providing care for people experiencing changes in their functional abilities. Enriched with aboriginal ways of knowing and being, this program will enhance the students' ability to provide cultural safety and person-centered care to all.

The BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry reviews and recognizes HCA programs in BC to ensure that they are: following the provincial curriculum, implementing a common set of training standards, and graduating competent front-line health care providers.

Notes on Admission

  • Indigenous students can apply for reserved seats by submitting the Access Initiative for Indigenous students form.
  • Fieldwork, practicums, or clinical practice will require a satisfactory criminal record check prior to placement. The Registration Centre at VIU will contact prospective students regarding the Criminal Record Check. Criminal Record Checks are processed through the Ministry according to the Criminal Records Review Act. A check completed through the RCMP is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Act.
  • Students who meet or exceed the minimum admission requirements may not necessarily be admitted to the program.
  • Preference may be given to those with 30 hours or more volunteer service in a long-term care setting.
  • The following documents are required by the first day of classes:
    • A completed Immunization Requirements Form.
    • Proof of W.H.M.I.S. training.
    • Foodsafe Level I certificate.
    • Standard First Aid certificate is required (that includes CPR Level "C").
  • Additional prerequisites required prior to practice experience:
  • Not currently open to international students.

Recommended Personal Characteristics

Before applying for this program, students should learn as much as possible about this career. We encourage students to volunteer in a health care facility to familiarize themselves with the role of the Health Care Assistant.  The following traits are critical for student success:

  • sensitivity to the needs of others
  • trustworthiness, integrity, flexibility
  • ability to perform physically demanding tasks within a variety of workspaces 
  • ability to speak confidently with people of all ages
  • ability to pay close attention to detail
  • ability to work quickly with accuracy and efficiency
  • ability to manage time effectively and handle responsibility
  • ability to problem-solve effectively in a limited time span
  • excellent oral and personal hygiene
  • willingness to show commitment to program by regular attendance
  • ability to be punctual on a consistent basis
  • ability to participate in own learning by displaying preparedness for class and clinical settings
  • ability to perform basic home management and cooking skills
Phase I* 


HCAS 110 - (Interpersonal Communications)


HCAS 120 - (Lifestyle and Choices)


HCAS 130 - (Introduction to Practice)


HCAS 140 - (Concepts for Practice)


HCAS 150 - (Common Health Challenges)


HCAS 160 - (Cognitive and/or Mental Challenges)


HCAS 170 - (Personal Care and Assistance)


Phase II**


HCAS 180 - (Practice Experience in Multi-Level and/or Complex Care)


Phase III


HCAS 190 - (Practice Experience in Home Support, Assisted Living, and/or Group Home Setting)


Total Credits


* Phase I courses must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase II.
** Phase II course must be successfully completed prior to starting Phase III.

The program prepares students for employment in complex care facilities, extended care units, acute care, home support agencies and residential settings. Graduates will work primarily with older adults.

Domestic Fees

Tuition and Other Mandatory Student Fees

When applying to the program, applicants will be charged a non-refundable application fee.

When applying to graduate, students will be charged a non-refundable graduation and alumni fee.

Some courses have additional fees to pay for extraordinary class–related expenses.

Fees - 24 week program* Amount
Tuition (6 months x $499.20 per month) 2,995.20
Lab fee 41.83
Student Activity fee (4% of tuition and lab fee) 121.48
Student Services fee (4.417% of tuition) 132.30
VIU Students' Union fee (6 months x $27.60 per month) 165.60
Health and Dental Plan fee ($265.00 per year) 265.00
Books and supplies (approximate cost) 900.00

* The above fee table is for Nanaimo campus only. Students taking the program through the Cowichan or tiwšɛmawtxʷ (Powell River) campuses will pay reduced Students’ Union fees.

Students are responsible for travel expenses to clinical agencies.

The VIUSU Health and Dental Plan fee is assessed for all students enrolled in 6 credits or more per term, or in Trades/Vocational programs of 5 months or longer.  

All fees are subject to change without prior notice and are expected to increase by 2% each year on April 1.

Domestic (Canadian)

Program Start Date Accepting Applications Campus Options