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The new Competency Standards for Healthcare Assistants, formerly called practical nurses, will be implemented as of September in most institutions offering training in practical nursing.
The competency standards were developed by the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Molly McGann, Officer in the Standard and Regulation Division in the Ministry, said the new standards were at competency levels two and three.
“The occupational standards level one to three have existed for some time. What we are referring to as the new standards are competency standard levels two and level three, which have been introduced. They were developed because periodically, every two to three years or depending on what is happening in the marketplace, NCTVET revises its standards,” said Mrs. McGann.
“When the committee looked at level one, they thought that the standards were too low for a practical nurse, because they cover basic tasks, for example the bathing and feeding of patients, and the world has moved on and we are now into globalisation and standardization is at a different level,” she added.
The new level two and level three programmes were designed to make the practical nurse more useful. Mrs. McGann explained that all the level one standards have now been incorporated into level two.
“I must say that there are concerns by some persons saying they would like to retain the level one programme, but we are doing an educational programme to try and move them towards the new standards,” she informed.
The level two programme will cover a number of competency standards, such as basic communication skills, planning and organization of work, interactive workplace communication, applying basic first aid and participating in workplace safety procedures.
In the meantime, entry requirements for new applicants will be introduced soon. Persons will be required to have at least two ordinary level passes or the equivalent, including a biological science subject and English Language.
Mrs. McGann said that it would take at least one year for these new requirements to be mandatory, as it was very close to the new school year and persons needed more time to get familiar with the revised requirements.
“For persons who have received training and have worked in the system for some time, they will be eligible for the ‘Grandfathering Clause’. These persons will not be required to have the two subjects, but they will have to successfully complete the assessment process conducted by an assessor who is approved by NCTVET,” she informed.
These persons who qualify under the ‘grandfathering clause’, will be assessed either in a hospital setting or nursing home, so that the assessor can witness the persons performing certain tasks.
“We at the Ministry of Health, NCTVET and the Ministry of Education and Youth have been working together to inform the schools of what is happening and to get them to buy in. We have achieved tremendous success and we have had a high level of co-operation from the schools and some of the schools are willing to start training with this new level two come September,” Mrs. McGann said.
Other schools are slated to begin the new programme for the 2007/08 academic year, she noted. “We are now on a public awareness programme, so the wider public will become aware. We are also targeting the students, prospective students and people already in the system,” Mrs. McGann pointed out.