Health Care Support Work


The Health Care Support Worker Diploma has been discontinued.

Douglas College is only accepting applications for the Health Care Assisting program via the BC Health Career Access program.  For those interested in Health Care Assisting please submit your expression of interest at  

Those interested Community Mental Health Work  should apply directly to the Community Mental Health Certificate,  currently accepting applications via Education Planner BC.

Learning Format
Admission Type
Limited Enrolment


The Health Care Support Work (HCSW) Certificate Program provides students with the knowledge, skills and values to practice as front-line care providers in a variety of health care and mental health care settings. Students learn to assist with daily living (bathing, personal grooming, eating, maintaining mobility), and with psychosocial challenges. This three-semester program is a combination of two certificate programs: the Health Care Assisting (HCA) Certificate Program (two semesters) and the Community Mental Health Work (CMHW) Certificate Program (one semester). It is the only public college program in the Lower Mainland that offers a blend of physical and mental health skills training.

NOTE: International students are not currently eligible for this program. For more information, contact Douglas College International.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:

Native English Speakers Requirments: (applies to individuals who have a minimum of 7 years of education in an English-speaking environment--see table below for details)

English 11 or equivalent

1. Evidence of one of the following with a minimum of C grade:

     -Proof of completion of Grade 11 English" OR

Composition 11,

Creative Writing 11,

Literary Studies 11,

New Media 11,

Spoken Language 11,

EFP Literary Studies and Writing 11,

EFP Literary Studies and New Media 11,

EFP Literary Studies and Spoken Language 11,


Accuplacer Assessment (*):

      11 level or higher Reading Comprehension: 254

      Write placer: 4

*availability of this exam for assessment purposes, subject to change

2. Completion of Douglas College Self- Declaration Form


Non-native English Speakers Requirements:

Standardized English Language proficiency test score

Evidence of one of the following test scores:

 1.  The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): test must be within the last two years-minimum score of 80, with no score lower than 20 in Speaking and Listening and no score lower than 18 in Reading and Writing.

 2.  International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic or General- test must be within the last two years-minimum overall score of 6 with no band lower than 6.

 3.  Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test (CLBPT): test must be taken within the past six months: Minimum test scores: Listening 8, Speaking 8, Reading 7 and Writing 7.

 4.  Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): test must be within the last two years- minimum overall score of 60, with no section less than 50.

Countries with English language systems/institutions(where English is a primary, official language and the language used for education)

American Samoa
British Virgin Islands Cayman Island

Falkland Islands
Irish Republic

New Zealand
South Africa
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caico Islands

United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland)
United States of America (USA)
US Virgin Islands

*Applicants educated in Quebec at an institution where the language of instruction was not English, must meet the current English Language proficiency requirements.

Upon Offer: 

  • A Criminal Record Check from the Ministry of Justice, including clearance to work with vulnerable adults will be required. This must be done through Douglas College. Specific instructions will be provided by the HCSW program Admissions Officer.
  • Complete an Informed Medical Suitability Declaration (to be completed on Douglas College Form) and a physician's note may be required.
  • Submit a current record of immunity or immunization for Hepatitis B.
  • Submit proof of negative TB skin test or chest X-ray, taken within 4 months prior to starting the program and classes. This may need to be repeated if student was tested more than six months prior to the first clinical experience, or as required by Health Authorities. 


  • We strongly recommend you attend an information session.
  • A personal interview with the Program Coordinator may be requested.


Access to the Health Care Support Work Certificate Program for Douglas College Community Mental Health Work Graduates

Additional admission requirements:

In addition to the admission requirements for all HCSW program options, these admission requirements apply to Douglas College Community Mental Health Work program graduates who wish to access the Health Care Assisting component of the HCSW program and to receive credit for previous education and work experience.  Students will graduate with a HCSW certificate.

Practice Requirements:

  1. Graduation from Douglas College Community Mental Health Work Program. (Note: the Introduction to Community Mental Health Certificate program offered through Douglas College Continuing Education is not equivalent to the Community Mental Health Work Certificate).
  2. Current practice experience, such as working with persons with mental illness in a residential or community based facility for a minimum of 1,120 hours within four years of date of application. Submission of a letter from an agency/institution supporting this claim is required. 
    Graduation from Douglas College Community Mental Health Work Program within two years prior to the date of application.



You can get an average cost for your program - tuition and student fees, books, uniforms, lab fees etc - on the Program Cost page. 

Only programs approved for student loan funding are listed on the Program Cost page. For all other programs, refer to the Tuition Fee page.

Program Requirements

Curriculum Framework

Graduation Requirements

  • Successful completion of 50.25 credits
    • Achieve 65% (C+) or higher in Graded courses
    • Mastery in Clinical Practice courses
  • At least 50% of all coursework must be completed at Douglas College 

Course Requirements:

Course Number Course Title Credits

Semester I


HCSW 1101

Concepts for Practice


HCSW 1102

Lifestyle and Introduction to Practice


HCSW 1103

Interpersonal Communication


HCSW 1104

Health Challenges 1


HCSW 1105

Applied Practice Experiences 1


Semester II


HCSW 1106

Health Challenges 2


HCSW 1107

Cognitive and Mental Health Challenges


HCSW 1108

Applied Practice Experiences 2


HCSW 1109

Applied Practice Experiences 3


Semester III


HCSW 1155

Foundations of Community Mental Health Work Practice


HCSW 1170

Concepts for Mental Health Practice II


HCSW 1180

Recovery in Mental Health


HCSW 1190

Therapeutic Relationships in Mental Health


HCSW 1195

Clinical Practice I for CMHW


HCSW 1200

Clinical Practice II for CMHW


Total Credits



Program Guidelines

Program Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this program and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the program, consider the previous version as the applicable version.


Successful Health Care Support Workers tend to have the following qualities:

  • honest and ethical
  • responsible and flexible
  • self-aware
  • sensitive to the needs of others
  • able to speak confidently with people of all ages
  • able to work independently or with a team
  • able to perform basic home management and cooking tasks
  • effective problem solvers

The 3-semester Health Care Support Worker Certificate program will provide you with both physical and mental health care skills. Employers are now demanding graduates with this unique skill set. If you have no previous training in the field, this may be the best option for you.

If you have already completed either the Health Care Assistant Certificate (formerly Home Support/Resident Care Attendant Citation) or the Community Mental Health Worker Certificate, you can upgrade to earn the full Health Care Support Worker Certificate.

For more information, see Ways to study.

No. Currently, the HCSW, HCA, and CMHW programs are offered only as full-time, on-campus programs.

Graduates find this program a great step towards pursuing further education such as Licensed Practical Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) or a Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing (BScPN).

In the HCSW program, learning occurs in classrooms, laboratories and the workplace, with a focus on:

  • communications skills needed to work with patients, co-workers, family members and others in care-giving settings
  • the latest care procedures in mental health services
  • laboratory and field experiences related to health care services
  • clinical experiences in which you can apply your knowledge and gain valuable experience - and employer contacts

For more information, see the Curriculum tab (above).

As a HCSW, you will provide care to clients in a variety of settings:

  • long-term care facilities
  • assisted living facilities
  • client’s homes
  • supportive housing
  • mental health boarding homes
  • day programs and club houses
  • acute care

and many more.

HCSWs may assist clients with a variety of needs, including:

  • personal care/activities of daily living
  • delegated tasks, such as administering medications or helping with rehabilitation exercises
  • psychosocial rehabilitation
  • household/housekeeping tasks

The job market for HCSW graduates is very good. Generally, wages range from $14-$21.85 per hour.

More Information

Special academic requirements

These requirements apply to all program options. See individual program options for additional program requirements.

  • Standard First Aid and CPR Level C certificate is required prior to first clinical placement.

Health Region On-line Orientation (Student Practice Education Core Orientation) completion is required prior to first clinical placement.  Information will be provided during program orientation.

NOTE: A driver’s license allowing unaccompanied vehicle operation and access to a vehicle are strongly recommended to insure the required one-week clinical placement in Home Support.

Other information

Other Information
Personal traits which help a student succeed in this program include:
Sensitivity to the needs of others
Ability to problem-solve effectively in a limited time span
Ability to manage time effectively and handle responsibility
Ability to perform basic home management and cooking skills
Ability to speak confidently with people of all ages
Ability to develop self-awareness
Ability to be self-directed in their own learning
Ability to be flexible

Tuition deposit

When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required. 

Career Pathways

According to an employment survey conducted by the Institutional Research and Planning Department, close to 100 percent of graduates of the Health Care Support Worker Program are currently employed in the field. In fact, many students have commitment of employment before they finish their studies.        Graduates of the Health Care Support Worker Program are qualified to care for people who require assistance to meet their physical and mental health needs. Graduates work in a variety of health care areas, such as adult day health centres, assisted living facilities, complex care facilities, dementia care units, home health care agencies, and a variety of mental health settings such as mental health teams, clubhouses, day treatment centres, and group homes.    Graduates often find this program a first step in pursuing further education in Licensed Practical Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing.