New apprenticeship programme for healthcare assistants

A new, innovative apprenticeship programme that will advance the role of healthcare assistant for the care of older people was launched today by Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris.

The Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner programme allows healthcare assistants to attain QQI Level 6 qualification and is approved by the Apprenticeship Council, offering participants the opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge, and strengthen their career pathway.

The programme concept was initially proposed in 2018 and was developed through Griffith College, in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland and other consortium members.

Around 250 apprentices are expected to take part over the next three years, fulfilling employment within nursing homes in November while learning at Griffith College. Forty-two men and women commenced their participation in July and 2021.

The two-year programme requires the apprentices to learn healthcare assistant skills while working within an older person care setting, and attend 30 classroom days a year at Griffith College that supplement the practical skills gained. Expanded knowledge, skills and competencies are attained by the apprentice healthcare assistants pursuing the Level 6 accreditation, with the defined pathway supporting them in achieving stability and providing motivation to complete the programme.

For nursing homes and healthcare employers, the apprentices will develop advanced skills to support care of the older person, providing enhanced support to nurses and strengthening the quality of care within the setting.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO sais: “This programme marks an important milestone in the development of the healthcare assistant profession. It will advance the professionalism and the skillset of the role, and enhance its standing as a profession. We hope it will lead to more people considering the immensely rewarding role of healthcare assistant as becoming a more attractive career prospect, and support the professional and personal development of those already in the profession.”

Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, President of Griffith College, states: “Griffith College has a long history of working with industry to ensure our courses meet current skills needs. In developing this national apprenticeship, we have worked closely with the healthcare consortium to develop a practical and applied qualification that will enhance the skills and competencies of their staff in what is a crucial sector of our society.”

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