Health Career Access Program Improving Recruitment of Health Care Assistants

Island Health is benefiting from more Health Care Assistants (HCA) as the Health Career Access Program makes training more accessible to new health-care workers.

“Building up and supporting our workforce is a huge priority at Island Health,” said Pauline Waring, regional manager with Home Care Strategy for Island Health. “The Health Career Access Program (HCAP) is an opportunity for people who may be interested in working in the health care sector to work in a non-direct care role while taking part in a HCA education program delivered through one of Vancouver Island’s post-secondary institutions.”

The Health Career Access Program (HCAP) provides a path for applicants with no health care experience to get hired and receive on-the-job training while they are attending school. The program was set-up in partnership with the Ministry of Health to address Health human resources challenges in long-term care, assisted living and home support. 

“People I’ve met with in communities across the province have expressed to me the importance of having more health care staff to support patients and existing staff in care homes. The Health Care Access Program is a meaningful way that we’re continuing to expand the number of health-care assistants in B.C., helping people to get the care they need.” said Harwinder Sandhu, parliamentary secretary for seniors’ services and long-term care. “I have heard about the great success and benefits of this program and how rewarding this career path is in providing applicants an opportunity to develop practical skills while also giving back to their community. I encourage more people to join the healthcare workforce through this great opportunity.”

“Before starting this program I worked at the front desk of a resort and liked the idea of helping people,” said Jack Lowe, who has completed the program and is working as a HCA in a Victoria long-term care and assisted living facility. “I was paid a full time hourly wage while I attended school and my schooling was also paid for, which I completed online during the pandemic. I was offered a full time position as a Health Care Assistant when I finished the program.”

HCAs help clients with their mobility, activities of daily living, and personal care. They assist clients with things such as bathing, dressing, meal assistance, or helping them with physical challenges.

Jack Lowe, Graduate of the Health Care Access Program

“Part of the program involves working alongside another Health Care Assistant to see what the job entails,” said Lowe. “I helped transport clients to the dining room, assisted with recreational activities, and spent time talking with the residents. Even though I was working in a non-clinical role, I learned a lot and it gave me a good sense of whether I would enjoy the Health Care Assistant position once I finished my schooling.”

Marilyn May of Port Hardy had no experience in health-care prior to taking the Health Career Access Program.

Marilyn May, Graduate of the Health Care Access Program

“I have been working in customer service my whole life, which turns out to be a great asset in my role as a health care assistant,” she said. “The social interactions I’ve had with customers and my experience problem-solving in past customer service roles have really helped me while working as a HCA.”

“People who are passionate about helping others make good Health Care Assistants,” said Waring. “We also look for people who work well independently and like variety in their work, as every day is different.”

“Ever since I was young I have been interested in nursing,” said May. “When I heard about the Health Career Access Program, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see how I might enjoy working in health-care. I had no idea what to expect, but it has been an amazing experience. I really like it.”

“If someone is wanting to help people in their community, willing to work hard, and they don’t mind a physically-demanding job, then this role is absolutely for you,” said Lowe. “We help people to become independent and self-sufficient, which is such a great feeling.”

Interested in learning more about HCAP? Visit the B.C. Government health-care job site.