A Vision for Healthcare Assistants in Ireland

The Alliance of Health Care Assistants (AHCAI) came into being in 2015 and hopes to change the status quo for this discipline.  We are a membership organisation for healthcare assistants founded by a small group of healthcare assistant, and laypeople who valued the care they received when family members were in need.   Healthcare assistants make up 50% of the board of directors and 50% of the executive council. The AHCAI are working to raise the profile of the Healthcare Assistant and create a career path.  We are seeking registration/regulation for this discipline, so it can stand shoulder to shoulder in recognition and respect with other disciplines in the healthcare sector.   AHCAI represents Healthcare Assistants in all sectors of the service.  It is a not-for-profit company and registered charity.

AHCAI is involved with an industry led consortium of private healthcare providers and Griffith College the coordinating provider, in preparing a two-year apprenticeship program at Higher Certificate level 6, for healthcare assistants. It is an industry led apprenticeship during which healthcare assistants will acquire a greater knowledge of health and illness, work autonomously and become competent in a range of clinical and social care skills to assist the registered nurse.  The proposal was accepted by the Apprenticeship Council and announced, alongside twenty or so other apprenticeships, by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton on 8th December 2017.  The course will begin early in 2020. 

The next step in the process is to seek regulation for this higher-grade of healthcare assistant so that they will have a national scope and code of practice and ethics.  The higher-grade healthcare assistants will be responsible for their own practice.  All this is coming about in consultation with healthcare assistants rather than having decisions made about them without them.

Looking into the future AHCAI intends to seek a national standard of training and registration for existing level 5 qualified healthcare assistants and regulation for higher certificate healthcare assistant.  This in fact, is creating a career path for the discipline.  It is intended that this discipline will become attractive to school leavers choosing their future career.

When Healthcare assistants were first employed in numbers, they were distinguished from home helps by the fact that their duties were ‘hands on’ tasks for the care recipient, showering, dressing, feeding etc., while home helps carried out domestic tasks, cooking, cleaning, shopping. The work has become blended in the past ten years.  Healthcare assistants are, in some cases, being offered multitask contracts, where they can be requested to work with the care recipient or carry out housekeeping tasks.  This practice is not ideal as it can lead to poor infection prevention and control

AHCAI keeps Healthcare Assistants informed through Facebook and Twitter.  We offer free CPD courses on the members section of the website for which a certificate of course completion is issued.  Our first conference was held in Dublin last February and our second conference will be held in the Kingsley Hotel, Cork City in February 2020.  Tickets will cost €10. and will be available from Eventbrite at a later date.  The theme will be Working to Build a Better Future for Healthcare Assistants

The Alliance aims to be the voice of the healthcare assistant, uniting them and assisting them in forming a career path, raising their status through training and regulation/registration and having them recognised as a valued discipline in the health service. 

Visit our web site www.ahcai.ie and give us your support to continue to grow and develop the healthcare assistant discipline.  Application for membership can be made through the website, our membership fee is €15.00 for the year.