Health Care Aides (HCAs) in Alberta are currently unregulated. On December 9, 2020, the Health Statutes Amendment Act received royal assent. Bill 46 made substantial amendments to the Health Professions Act (HPA), including the future regulation of HCAs in Alberta.
As a result of these changes, the CLPNA will become one college with two distinct professions: Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Aides. The CLPNA has been working with the Government of Alberta, HCAs, and a broad group of stakeholders from across the province to make the transition to regulation.
Regulation promotes improved client safety and quality of care. When regulation comes into effect, the CLPNA will set requirements through the development of standards of practice, policies, and guidelines as well as the administration of a complaints process. These requirements will provide a framework for HCA practice and bring clarity to the role.
The Role of a Health Care Aide (HCA) in Alberta
The Health Professions Act and Regulatory Colleges in Alberta
Regulation of HCAs in Alberta
In Alberta, HCAs work collaboratively as part of the healthcare team and provide care to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and individuals who are acute or chronically ill. The nature of the HCA-patient relationship involves intimate care such as bathing, dressing, and toileting. Such care puts HCAs in strong positions of power requiring high levels of trust by their patients, so it is important to ensure appropriate training and competence through regulation.
Regulation of the HCA profession is important for several additional reasons:
In Alberta, health professionals (including physicians and nurses) are regulated under the Health Professions Act. The HPA establishes some common rules for all health professionals as well as authorizing a regulatory body, known as a “college,” to create and enforce rules specific to each health profession.
The job of a college is to protect the public from unsafe practice and hold registrants of the profession accountable for the care they provide to patients. Colleges also create additional policy documents to guide the application of these rules.
Some rules are made by the college alone, some are made by the college after consulting with the profession and the government, and others are made by the college only when first approved by the government.
There are key documents that need to be established to govern a profession. These documents provide a college and registrants with key information to guide the profession.
Once regulated under the Health Professions Act, HCAs will have to meet certain requirements. These requirements include:
Under the Health Professions Act, a regulatory college sets registration requirements and establishes a registration and renewal process.
Once HCAs are regulated, they will need to register with their regulatory college. This involves applying for registration and providing evidence that you meet certain requirements. If you do, you will be issued a practice permit.
This practice permit must be renewed annually. To renew annually, you will need to meet certain requirements including paying a permit fee and participating in the continuing competence program.
Under the HPA, health professionals must participate in a continuing competence program established by their regulatory college. The college is required to audit a registrant’s continuing competence learning.
The CLPNA will establish a continuing competence program for HCAs.
A regulatory college, through processes outlined in the HPA, provides the public a way to submit formal complaints against a healthcare provider for unsafe, unskilled, and unethical practice.
Any individual can submit a formal complaint to a regulatory college. When a formal complaint is received, the matter will be investigated.