Lifestyle and Introduction to Practice

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HCSW 1102
Lifestyle and Introduction to Practice
Mental Health and Personal 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 introduces students to a holistic concept of health and the components of a health-enhancing lifestyle. Students will be invited to reflect on their own experience of health, recognizing challenges and resources that can impact lifestyle choices. Students will be introduced to a model that can be applied in other courses to understand the multi-faceted aspects of health and healing. Students will also be introduced to the role of the Health Care Assistant (HCA) within the British Columbia health care system. Students will be introduced to the healthcare team and the roles and function of the HCA within the team. Students will also have opportunities to develop self-reflective skills required for competent practice and will be introduced to effective job-finding approaches.
Course Content

Understanding Health

Health as process i.e. a journey not a destination.

  • Physical, psychological/emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual dimensions of health.
  • Interrelatedness of all aspects of health.
  • Health as it relates to lifestyle and choices.

Components of Health

  • Physical components of health:
    • Physical activity and physical self-care.
    • Sleep and rest.
    • Nutrition throughout the life cycle; factors that affect eating and nutrition; Canada’s Food Guide; weight management.
    • Avoiding or limiting harmful substances – licit and illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine.
  • Psychological/emotional (feeling) components of health:
  • Interaction between emotions/perceptions and health.
  • Psychologically safe environments.
  • Stress and stress management.
    • Common responses and effects of stress.
    • Common stressors related to work of the HCA.
    • Burnout and compassion fatigue.
    • Strategies for self-assessment and wellness intervention.
  • Cognitive (thinking) components of health:
    • Rational thinking and perceiving.
    • Ability to reason, interpret and remember.
    • Ability to sense, perceive, assess and evaluate.
    • Problem-solving ability.
    • Creativity.
  • Social (interactive) components of health:
    • Social bonds and social supports in relation to health.
    • Cultural and societal influences on lifestyle and choices.
  • Spiritual components of health:
    • Personal values and beliefs.
    • Clarification of values and beliefs that are personally significant.
    • Meaning-making.
    • Activities that enrich and refresh.

Lifestyle Change

  • Complexity of the lifestyle change process.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving as it relates to lifestyle and choices.
  • Self-reflection and self-evaluation in relation to challenges and resources.
  • Setting achievable goals, using motivators, setting a realistic change agenda.
  • Recognizing difficulties inherent in personal change.


Workplace Settings and Contexts

  • Introduction to the Health Care System in British Columbia and Canada
  • Long Term Care Assessment (how it is done and outcomes).
  • Models of care – creating community, actualizing person-centred care.
  • Assisted Living – goals, philosophy, approaches – how these might also be applied in other contexts.
  •  Working in facilities – challenges and opportunities.
  • Working in Community-based settings – challenges and opportunities.
  • Agency/ facility/ employer standards; policies and procedures – purpose and function.
  • Standards of care.
  • Importance of maintaining client/resident/family confidentiality.
  • Reporting and recording – when, what, how.
  • Legal implications of the written word.
  • Organizing within the work environment: managing time effectively.
  • Use of workplace technology (computers).

Team work in Healthcare Settings

  • The healthcare team in facilities and in the community; roles and responsibilities
  • Legal limitations and obligations of HCAs.
  • What to do when a situation exceeds legal parameters of one’s role
  • Supervision and delegation of tasks.
  • Lines of communication.
  • Basic concepts of team development and group processes.
  • Benefits & challenges of working in a team.
  • Facilitating effective team functioning – principles of collaboration.

Legal and Ethical Issues

  • Human rights: World Health Organization; basic human rights in Canada
  • Rights of people receiving healthcare services.
  • Rights of care-givers; employment standards.
  • Relevant contractual obligations that guide HCA practice.
  • Ethical and legal parameters of HCA (HCSW, CHW/Home Support Worker and RCA) roles.
  • Ethical standards and decision-making within one’s practice.
  • Abuse – recognizing and reporting.
  • Occupational health and safety.

Professional Approaches to Practice

  • Responsible and Accountable behaviour.
  • Unions – membership, rights, and responsibilities.
  • Professional relationships with clients/ residents, families and other members of the health team:
    • roles and professional boundaries
    • principles of professional self-disclosure
  • Accountability and ethical behaviour in working relationships.
  • Aspects of confidentiality in shared information.

Self-reflective Practice

  • Reflective practice – what it is, why it is important, how to become a reflective care provider.
  • Personal competence as a component of caring.
  • Impact of personal values, beliefs and principles on practice.
  • Self-assessment and self-development.
  • Challenges and rewards of specific work environments.
  • Selecting a work environment that fits own strengths, values, preferences and lifestyle.
  • The importance of lifelong learning.
  • The function of motivation and commitment in on-going learning and personal development.

Employability Skills

  • Preparing a resume and letter of application.
  • Completing a job application form.
  • Effectively handling the job interview.
  • Employer expectations.
Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Discuss the interrelationship of physical, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual dimensions of health.
  2. Display an understanding of how lifestyle choices and behaviours contribute to the dimensions of health.
  3. Display an understanding of the complexity of the change process in relation to health promotion.
  4. Display an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of HCAs within the health care system in British Columbia.
  5. Contribute to the effective functioning of the healthcare team.
  6. Function in a responsible, accountable fashion recognizing legal and ethical parameters of the HCA role.
  7. Apply self-reflection and self-appraisal processes in order to recognize and respond to own self-development needs as a care provider.
  8. Confidently conduct a job-search process.
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.