On successful completion of this course, students will obtain a QQI Level 5 Award in Community Health Services, 5M4468.

Course Outline:

  • Communications 5N0690
  • Work Experience 5N1356
  • Anatomy & Physiology 5N0749
  • Biology 5N2746
  • Care of the Older Person 5N2706
  • Care Skills 5N2770
  • Emergency Department Care Skills 5N4890
  • Nursing Theory & Practice 5N4325
  • Infection Prevention & Control 5N3734

Additional Mandatory Aspects

Students on this course will also be required to successfully complete a PHECC Certified First Aid Responder Course and a Manual Handling: Patient Lifting and Moving Course (provided in the College at an additional cost) and undergo police clearance prior to the commencement of Work Experience.

Note: Participation on First Aid Responder and Manual Handling: Patient Lifting & Moving courses, are subject to minimum numbers due to student: tutor ratios.

PHECC Certification

Pre-hospital care courses are certified by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), and a PHECC registered training institute will deliver the relevant training on behalf of Mayo College of FET in the 2022-2023 academic year.

Course Duration

This is a one year, full time course, running from September to May.

Entry Requirements

A Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied, or equivalent is required, although exceptions are given to mature students who are over 23 years of age. Entry is subject to interview.

Career Opportunities

On successful completion of our QQI Community Health Services Level 5 Award, graduates will be qualified to work as Healthcare Assistants/Healthcare Support Staff in Hospitals, Nursing Homes or in the Community.


On completion of this course, students are eligible to apply for reserved University places on a broad range of courses including Nursing, Psychology, Health Sciences and Law. There are also opportunities for students to progress to Nursing course in the UK and health Science Courses in Europe.

Student Testimonial


I am interested in the Healthcare Support course at Westport CFE because like many others I need a back door into third level education. I want to do nursing or become a paramedic and this course is the perfect stepping stone. The course offers work experience so you really can go out and see first-hand what your preferred profession might be.


Once you have applied online you will be called for an interview within a few weeks. QQI examination fees cost €50, although Medical Card holders are exempt from paying this fee on production of a valid medical card. Books and essential class materials may also be required.  There is also a €100 Student Services fee required on acceptance of the course.

Additional Costs Associated with this Course

A uniform is required consisting of a College Healthcare Tunic which can be ordered through the College. Navy trousers and black or navy shoes will also be required. The uniform will be worn for practical sessions in class, and is also essential for Work Placements. Students will also be required to purchase a fob watch and name badge for Work Experience. Prices for items ordered through the College are reviewed annually. Please note that First Aid Responder and Patient Manual Handling, Lifting & Moving courses are provided by a registered training institute and prices are reviewed annually.

Detailed Course Outline:

Anatomy & Physiology

The coursework will enable Learners to:

  • Differentiate between Anatomy and Physiology.
  • Describe the structure and function of a typical animal cell.
  • Classify tissues into the four main groups; epithelial, connective, muscle and nervous tissue.
  • Differentiate between benign and malignant tumours.
  • Outline the composition of bone, the functions of the skeleton, the main bones of the skeleton and the structure of a typical long bone.
  • Identify the major categories and functions of joints.
  • Identify the main muscles of the body, differentiating between the three types of muscle.
  • Outline the structure and function of blood and its role in maintaining immunity.
  • Describe the function of the heart including, the structure of arteries, veins and capillaries the cardiac cycle. Look at blood pressure.
  • Identify the parts and functions of the lymphatic system; how it is related to the circulatory system.
  • Identify the parts of the digestive system and their function.
  • Outline the composition of protein, fats and carbohydrate. Look at the end results of digestion.
  • Describe the structure of the respiratory system.
  • Describe the role of muscles, blood and the nervous system in the breathing process.
  • Explain the process of gas exchange in the lungs; how it all happens!
  • Describe the male and female reproductive systems including; the function of each reproductive organ and the role of hormones in reproduction.
  • Review the development of the embryo in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Assessment Criteria: Assignment (2) 40% each, Examination (Theory Based) 60%


This programme module aims to provide the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to independently apply concepts and principals of biology in a laboratory and in the field in a managed environment.

  • Identify a range of plant and animal cell types.
  • Explain the functions of a variety of cell types, differentiating between different types of cell division.
  • Explain the factors that influence photosynthesis and transpiration.
  • Outline the life cycle of bacterium, fungus and virus including examining the structure of each.
  • Describe the main pathogenic agent infection pathways.
  • Describe the role of bacteria in a variety of industrial processes, including citric acid, methane production and cheese production.
  • Explain the basic structure and function of DNA and RNA.
  • Outline the science behind the of the four blood groups and demonstrate the importance of compatibility in blood transfusion.
  • Describe the role of genetic engineering in the manufacture of a variety of industrial products.
  • Explain the basic structure and function of the antibody molecule.
  • Describe a breeding programme used to improve a specific crop and one used to improve a specific animal or product.
  • Discuss the plants and animals found in a specified habitat using a range of keys.
  • Discuss the effects of common physical hazards on the human body and the appropriate safety precautions necessary to minimise hazards.
  • Outline the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under health and safety legislation.
  • Use a variety of field work techniques to estimate the number and distribution of plants and animals.
  • Apply Mendel’s laws of inheritance to mono and dihybrid crosses.
  • Select tools and techniques to culture, isolate and inoculate micro-organisms, identifying the main pathogenic agent pathways.
  • Carry out biological experiments or investigations that relate to the coursework.
  • Maintain laboratory reports within planned timelines and deadlines on experiments and investigations.

Assessment Criteria: Examination- Theory 50%, Skills Demonstration 25%, Learner Record 25%

Care of the Older Person

This module will equip the learner with the knowledge, skills and competence to meet the full and holistic needs of older people in a variety of care contexts. On successful completion of this module, learners will:

  • Facilitate the learner to explore the role and responsibilities of a healthcare assistant in the provision of total and holistic care for older people in various care settings.
  • Create an awareness in the learner of the importance and relevance of quality assurance and excellent service in the provision of care for older people.
  • Enable the learner to demonstrate a range of appropriate verbal and nonverbal skills in order to meet the communication, social, emotional, intellectual and personal needs of an older person.
  • Enable the learner to develop the confidence and care skills including personal reflection skills required to work with older people.

Assessment Criteria: Project – 40%, Skills Demonstration – 60%

Care Skills

This programme module aims to equip the learner with the skills, knowledge and competence to care for clients in a safe and hygienic environment. Learners will be able to:

  • Recognize the different types of clients needing care, different types of care need and the differing care needs of clients.
  • Develop the necessary knowledge to respond effectively to clients’ individual needs, with their involvement and their use of choice.
  • Demonstrate practical skills in the area of client personal care.
  • Utilise knowledge and skills required for the maintenance of a safe, healthy and hygienic environment for clients.
  • Utilise the academic and vocational language, literacy and/or numeracy skills related to Care Skills through the medium of the indicative content.

Assessment Criteria: Skills Demonstration – 60%, Assignment – 40%

Emergency Department Care Skills

While this module deals with issues and skills related to an Emergency Department, it is also relevant in many cases to situations that Healthcare Support Staff might encounter in any hospital ward or nursing home, as outlined below:

  • The roles of the multidisciplinary team members including the Healthcare Assistant
  • Identifying the profile and care needs of patients
  • Assisting the nursing team in meeting the holistic needs of patients
  • Perform the following clinical skills: temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure, ECG, spinal log rolling, use of spinal boards
  • The Chain of Infection and the precautions employed to prevent the spreads of infection, including hand hygiene, standard precautions and transmission-based precautions
  • Health and safety issues in relation to maintaining a safe environment, moving and handling patients and equipment and interventions to minimise violence and aggression
  • Potential stressors associated with working in an Emergency Department and the support services available
  • Note: Successful completion of Occupational First Aid (which includes CPR) is mandatory for this course. Occupational First Aid Training is arranged within the College.

Assessment Criteria: Skills Demonstration – 70%, Assignment – 30%

Nursing Theory & Practice

This programme module aims to equip the learner with the theory underpinning nursing professional practice and the caring skills and attitudes necessary for the performance of a range of essential skills. The aim of this module is to:

  • Facilitate the learner to develop skills and empathy in the assessment of the patient and while assisting the patient with the activities of daily living.
  • Enable the learner to explore the profession of nursing, the Code of Practice for nurses and the nursing process.
  • Ensure that the learner develops an understanding of the healthcare structures, specialities and delivery in Ireland.
  • Enable the learner to demonstrate knowledge of common infections and infection control measures.
  • Assist the learner to develop the academic and vocational language, literacy and numeracy skills related to Nursing Theory and Practice through the medium of the indicative content.

Assessment Criteria: Skills Demonstration – 50%, Examination – 50%

Infection Prevention & Control

  • To facilitate the learner, develop an understanding of the importance of infection prevention and control in the provision of a healthy environment for patients, staff and visitors.
  •  To assist learners, develop an understanding of the principles of infection, the factors that contribute to healthcare associated infections, their prevention & outbreak management.
  • To enable learners, gain an appreciation of the role of the Infection Prevention and Control team in the prevention and management of infection in healthcare settings & their role in policy formation.
  • To assist learners, acquire knowledge of the standard precautions & practical skills required to decontaminate equipment to include terminal cleaning, segregation of all healthcare waste & linen, the management of spillages, safe sharps disposal and the role of single use items.
  • To enable the learner, manage inoculation & accidental exposure to blood & bodily fluids and understand the need for reporting such incidences and the role of the occupational health.

Assessment Criteria: Skills Demo – 40%, Learner Record – 20%, Examination – 40%

Communications 5N0690

Students studying Communications Level 5 will be able to do with the following:

  • Analysis of a range of current issues in communications and information technology.
  • Summarise in practical terms the elements of legislation that must be observed in a personal and/or work context, to include health, safety and welfare at work and communications-related legislation.
  • Use appropriate non-verbal and visual communication in personal- and work-related settings, to include one-to-one, in a group/team, and in formal and informal interaction.
  • Demonstrate verbal skills appropriate to working under general direction, to include making a case and presenting a point of view in group discussion, formal meetings, interviews.
  • Demonstrate listening skills appropriate to working under general direction, to include making eye contact, receiving and interpreting information, control of personal response.
  • Research a relevant vocational topic, to include use of primary and secondary sources, acknowledgement of sources, use of enquiry techniques and methods to establish validity and reliability

Assessment Criteria: Collection of Work – 50%, Skills Demonstration – 50%

Work Experience 5N1356

Students studying Work Experience Level 5 will do the following:

  • Examine work organisations and personal career opportunities in a particular vocational area, to include consideration of work-related issues and needs.
  • Summarise the basic rights and responsibilities of employees and employers in a particular work, organisational or institutional context, to include health, safety and welfare at work, equality legislation, union representation and regulations relating to pay.
  • Present relevant work experience material, to include a Curriculum Vitae or personal statement, letter of application, evidence of job-finding skills, skills checklist, statement of learning goals, contractual arrangements.
  • Participate effectively in a work experience placement for a minimum of 60 hours to gain experience/insight into their chosen vocational area.

Assessment Criteria: Collection of Work – 60%, Skills Demonstration – 40%

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