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.
International students are not currently eligible for this program. For more information, contact Douglas College International
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.
career transfer 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.
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
Applicants must meet the admission requirements listed below:
Native English speakers(applies to individuals who have a minimum of 7 years of education in an English-speaking environment*)
Non-native English speakers
English 11 or equivalent
Standardized English Language proficiency test score
1. Evidence of one of the following:
-Proof of completion of Grade 11 English with a minimum grade of "C"; OR
Grade 11 level or higher
Reading Comprehension: 65
Write placer: 4
2. Completion of Douglas College Self- Declaration Form
Evidence of one of the following test scores:
1. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): test score must be within the last two years- minimum score of 80
2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Academic or General- test score 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 score must be 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
*Countries with English language systems/institutions(where English is a primary, official language and the language used for education)
British Virgin Islands Cayman Island
St. Kitts and Nevis
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.
- 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 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 Regions.
*Updated immunizations for measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, varicella and rubella are strongly recommended. Recommendations will change based on Health Region requirements.
Standard First Aid and CPR Level C
- Certificate is required prior to the first clinical placement.
Non-Violence Crisis Intervention (NVCI):
- NVCI is required prior to the first clinical placement. NVCI course may be arranged through the HCSW program during program orientation.
- 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 Assistanting component of the HCSW program and to receive credit for previous education and work experience. Students will graduate with a HCSW certificate.
- 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).
- 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 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.
When offered a full-time seat in this program a non-refundable, non-transferable $350 tuition deposit is required.