Concepts for Practice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HCSW 1101
Concepts for Practice
Health Care Support Work
Health Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
60 hrs per semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities


Group discussion/group activities

Audio-visual materials

Case studies

May include other methods (e.g. guest speakers, role play, etc.)

Course Description
This course provides students with the opportunity to develop a theoretical framework for practice. Students will be introduced to the philosophical values and theoretical understandings that provide a foundation for competent practice as a HCA. The course focuses on concepts of caring and person-centred care; basic human needs and human development; family, culture and diversity as they relate to health and healing. Students will also be introduced to a problem-solving model that will be critical to their practice.
Course Content

Characteristics of Caring and person-centred practice

  • Caring as a moral ideal: What is caring?
  • Caring in a health care context.
  • Values and beliefs about care and caring.
  • Promoting the dignity and worth of self and others.
  • Self-building and self-caring as the basis of becoming a effective care provider
  • Caring and power: Power positions vs. relational positions with others.
  • Independence, dependence and interdependence and self-esteem.
  • Promoting self-determination.
  • Promoting quality of life – who defines it and who decides what it means to each person.
  • Social and Community models of care.
  • Supporting personal preferences and choices.
  • Recreation/socialization and quality of life.
  • Preventing isolation and unnecessary dependence.
  • Living at risk – what it is and why it is an option – the right to self-determination and choice.

Basic Human Needs

  • Hierarchy of needs
  • Interrelationship of needs.
  • Factors that affect needs and the meeting of needs in older adults.
  • Needs assessment    

Human Development

  • Principles of human development
  • Common developmental tasks and characteristics, infancy through middle adulthood
  • Developmental characteristics, tasks and changes in the older adult:
    • Physical changes
    • Psycho-social tasks and challenges
    • Loss as part of aging
    • Diversity in older adults
    • Factors influencing aging

Family in Health and Healing

  • Family development.
  • Diverse family units.
  • Changing family structures.
  • Socio-cultural, religious, environmental and economic influences of the family.
  • The role of family in health and healing: coping and adapting.
  • Understanding stresses on family care providers.
  • Families experiencing conflict or other dysfunction.
  • Supporting the family.

Cultural influences on aging and health; culturally sensitive care.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

  • Critical thinking as a caring concept
  • Relationship between critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Components of effective problem-solving/decision-making.
  • Problem-solving in relation to time management.
  • Care planning as a problem-solving process.
  • Steps in the care planning / problem-solving process.
  • Care planning process in facilities.
  • Care planning process in community settings.
  • Role of HCA in planning care.
  • Reporting and recording – common practices in community and facility settings.

Protection and Safety in Health and Healing

  • Factors affecting the need for protection and safety (health, age, lifestyle, health challenges)
  • Realities and challenges
  • Promoting and maintaining safe environments
  • Roles and parameters of practice in relation to safety
  • Risk management – definitions and approaches
  • Safety plans – purpose, role, factors influencing safety planning
  • Living at risk issues : respecting the client/residents’ choice to live at risk; informed choice

Critical incidents:

  • recognizing critical incidents
  • recognizing situations where critical incident debriefing is warranted
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to :


  1. Display an understanding of person-centred care that recognizes and respects the uniqueness of each individual.
  2. Discuss basic human needs and common characteristics of human development as these concepts relate to person-centred care.
  3. Use an informed problem-solving approach to provide care and service.
  4. Contribute to the safety and protection of self and others within a variety of work environments.
  5. Display an understanding of the role of family, culture, diversity and life experience in aging, health and healing.
Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is consistent with Douglas College course evaluation policy.  An evaluation schedule is presented at the beginning of the course.

This is a graded course.  A minimum mark of 65% is necessary to be successful in the course.

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:

 A list of recommended textbooks and materials is provided to students at the beginning of the semester.