Health Challenges 1

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HCSW 1104
Health Challenges 1
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 the normal structure and function of the human body and normal bodily changes associated with aging. Students will explore common challenges to health and healing in relation to each body system. Students will also be encouraged to explore person-centered practice as it relates to the common challenges to health.
Course Content

Medical Terminology

  • Word elements.
  • Abbreviations.

Structure and function of the human body

  • Organization of the human body: cells, tissues and organs.
  • Major body systems.
  • Natural changes associated with aging.

Challenges to health and healing

  • The experience of illness and disability
  • Common challenges to healing:
    • Transitions/Loss.
    • Pain.
    • Illness.
  • Broad effects on the individual and family of health challenges.
  • Common disorders related to each body system:
  • Integumentary (pressure ulcers, pain).
  • Musculo-skeletal (Falls, fractures, contractures, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, pain).
  • Cardiovascular (hypertension, hypotension, edema, coronary artery disease, blood clots, heart failure, CVA-stroke).
  • Respiratory (cyanosis, dyspnea, apnea, orthopnea, hyperventilation, hypoventilation, COPD, asthma, pneumonia, TB).
  • Digestive (vomiting, diarrhea, dysphagia, lack of appetite, dehydration, constipation, hemorrhoids, obesity, hiatus hernia, diverticular disease, IBS, Celiac disease, hepatitis).
  • Urinary (urinary tract infections, renal failure).
  • Reproductive (STIs).
  • Endocrine (Diabetes).
  • Neurological (stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Huntington’s disease, brain or spinal cord injuries).
  • Sensory Challenges:
    • Normal sensory changes of aging.
    • Speech and Language Challenges (Aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria).
    • Hearing and Visual challenges.
  • Chronic Illness:
    • basic definition and concepts
    • implications for care
    • focus on self-care
  • Applying critical thinking and problem-solving when caring for individuals experiencing common health challenges in facilities and in the community
    • Gathering information.
    • Sources of information (e.g. care plan, healthcare team, client/resident).
    • Observing changes in the client/resident.
    • Establishing priorities for care.
    • Carrying out plan of care.
    • Evaluating effectiveness of care.
    • Reporting and recording.

Preventing Infection

  • Microorganisms and the spread of infection.
  • Principles and practice of medical asepsis in facilities and in community settings.
  • Dealing with “super bugs.”
  • Standard precautions.
  • Isolation guidelines.

Nutrition and Healing

  • Nutrition in relation to health challenges.
  • Cultural differences.
  • Special diets:
    • Modified diets.
    • Restricted diets.
    • Diabetic diet.
    • High protein diet.
    • Liquid and pureed diets.
Learning Outcomes

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


  1. Display and understanding of the structure and function of the human body and normal changes associated with aging.
  2. Display a sound understanding of common challenges to health and healing.
  3. Discuss nutrition as it relates to healing.
  4. Describe ways to organize, administer and evaluate person-centered care and service for clients/residents experiencing common health challenges.
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.