Innovative Apprenticeship Programme for Healthcare Assistants Launched by Minister Harris

Friday, May 13, 2022

 A new and innovative apprenticeship programme that will advance the role of healthcare assistant for care of the older person has been launched by Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, Friday 13th May 2022.

The Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner programme allows healthcare assistants to attain QQI Level 6 qualification and is approved by the Apprenticeship Council, offering participants the opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge and strengthen their career pathway.

The programme concept was initially proposed in 2018 and was developed through Griffith College in partnership with Nursing Homes Ireland and other consortium members.

Around 250 apprentices are expected to take part over the next three years, fulfilling employment within nursing homes while learning at Griffith College. 42 men and women already commenced their participation in July and November 2021.

The two-year programme requires the apprentices to learn healthcare assistant skills while working within an older person care setting and attend 30 classroom days a year at Griffith College that supplement the practical skills gained. Expanded knowledge, skills and competencies are attained by the apprentice healthcare assistants pursuing the Level 6 accreditation, with the defined pathway supporting them in achieving stability and providing motivation to complete the programme. For nursing homes and healthcare employers, the apprentices will develop advanced skills to support care of the older person, providing enhanced support to nurses and strengthening the quality of care within the setting.  

The Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner programme launch took place at Nursing Homes Ireland, Citywest in Dublin 24, on Friday 13th May at 12 noon.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO states: “There is requirement to ensure our education system is responsive to social care needs of our ageing population. This programme marks an important milestone in the development of the healthcare assistant profession. It will advance the professionalism and the skillset of the role, and enhance its standing as a profession. We hope it will lead to more people considering the immensely rewarding role of healthcare assistant as becoming a more attractive career prospect and support the professional and personal development of those already in the profession. We are delighted to have partnered with Griffith College to bring this highly innovative programme together to strengthen the career of healthcare assistant. We look forward to further engagement with Minister Harris and Government on the critical matter of workforce planning for the care needs of our older population.”

Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, President of Griffith College, states: “Griffith College has a long history of working with industry to ensure our courses meet current skills needs. In developing this national apprenticeship, we have worked closely with the healthcare consortium to develop a practical and applied qualification that will enhance the skills and competencies of their staff in what is a crucial sector of our society.”

Mary Liz Trant, Interim Director of the National Apprenticeship Office states: “The pace of change is accelerating in the national apprenticeship system, with 65 programmes now available, led by the new National Apprenticeship Office. The Advanced Healthcare Assistant Practitioner apprenticeship is a really important and valuable programme as part of the transformation agenda. Our congratulations and thanks to Nursing Homes Ireland and education provider Griffith College for developing an innovative course that meets the 21st century skills needs in Irish healthcare and appeals to a great talent pool of Healthcare Assistant apprentices now and in the future”.

Eileen Doyle, a Healthcare Assistant at Knockeen Nursing Home in Co Wexford is a programme participant. She states: “What we are learning from the programme is supporting best practice within the nursing homes we work within. It is providing us participants with an excellent and very comprehensive pathway to support our professional development. Nurses deliver modules that teach best practice in care of the older person, with peer experience proving extremely valuable in our development and mentors on-hand to support our learning from the best academic research and external supports. The comprehensive structure of the course is leading to a better understanding of why we do what we do at work and the holistic interconnectedness of all aspects of healthcare. The overall feeling from everyone involved is one of positivity, encouragement and progression.”

Find out more about Griffith College's Apprenticeships, here.