What Does a Health Care Aide Do & Where Can You Work After College?

Updated January 2024

If you live in Winnipeg and want to start a career in health care (without years of university training), becoming a health care aide is an excellent option.

This is a front-line role that involves caring directly for patients and playing a key part in their daily lives. The job is not easy, but if you're passionate about making a real difference in the lives of others, working as a health care aide can be tremendously rewarding.

What should you know about this career path before you commit to a training program?

First, understand exactly what a health care aide does, what you'll study in training, and your job options after college. Let's get started.


Your Role as a Health Care Aide (HCA)

In a nutshell, a health care aide (HCA) assists people who cannot perform daily essential tasks on their own.

Health care aides work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and private homes, attending to patients who need help with personal grooming and hygiene, mobility (moving around), nutrition, and remembering to take medicine.

HCAs also take patients to social activities, make sure living areas are clean, and report any changes in behaviour or health to a supervising nurse.

Health care aide duties and responsibilities vary by patient. Each individual has their own plan of care, which is designed by the supervisor. As a health care aide, your job is to follow that plan and help patients maintain as much independence and quality of life as possible.

HCAs do what nurses and doctors can't—they spend hours with their patients, providing a combination of practical support, basic health care, and companionship.

Because of health care aides, many elderly and disabled people can remain in their own homes for longer rather than moving into long-term care facilities.

And patients in long-term care and hospital settings get the kind of personalized, daily care that simply wouldn't be possible without health care aides.

As our population ages and more of us need help with daily living, HCAs are becoming an indispensable part of Winnipeg's health care system.


What to Expect from Health Care Aide Programs in Winnipeg

If you're looking to launch an HCA career, getting started in the field won't take long. In fact, many health care aide programs take less than seven months to complete.

You can expect your courses to cover topics like:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Infection control
  • Wound care
  • Nutrition and meal planning
  • How to safely transport patients, with and without equipment
  • Caring for dying patients
  • Patient grooming and hygiene
  • Professional ethics
  • Working with patients from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds
  • Self-care as a health care aide (managing stress on the job; dealing with loss, etc.)
  • Safety training: First Aid and CPR

Your health care aide program should also include an internship so you get real work experience before graduating. This training is a blend of theory and hands-on learning.

It's intensive and challenging, but by the time you finish, you will be completely ready for your first job.

"I knew the health care aide program would be challenging—but I also knew that by the time I graduated, I would be fully prepared to perform in an HCA position.

The theory and hands-on training was really thorough. We had tests every week based on the previous unit of study, to ensure each student was keeping up and understanding everything.

There was a lot of studying and information retention involved, but this is what helped us build confidence and get fully prepared for our first jobs."

- Susan Zirk, graduate, Herzing College Winnipeg


Employment options for Health care aides in Winnipeg

If you're considering health care aide training, you're probably wondering about your employment options after graduation. Will it be easy to find a job? Are there plenty of opportunities for health care aides in Winnipeg?

The good news is that health care aides are in high demand all across Manitoba. The latest employment report from the Government of Canada Job Bank gives this occupation the highest possible rating for employment growth in Winnipeg: five out of five stars.

We absolutely need health care aides to care for our loved ones and to help more patients remain at home so our health care facilities aren't completely overwhelmed.

We also need health care aides to work in long-term care homes. This is where Herzing graduate Sheri Richard got hired.

"I'm working at Extendicare Oakview Place, a long-term care home here in Winnipeg. I work on a unit called Memory Lane. We support residents who have Alzheimer's and dementia.

I absolutely love this work. What I'm doing really makes a difference. People who are dealing with memory problems experience a lot of fear. The fear of not remembering who they are, or events from the past. I can see that fear in many of our residents.

But when I make them smile, or give them a hug, I can help them forget about that fear and pain. It's incredibly rewarding. I know I'm having a positive impact."

- Sheri Richard, graduate, Herzing College Winnipeg


Have questions about becoming a Health Care Aide?

We would love to hear from you. We strongly recommend talking with an admissions advisor to learn more about what a health care aide does, training options, and job opportunities. This is the best way to know if a health care aide career is right for you.

Click below to explore the health care aide program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!

Learn More About Health Care Aide Training at Herzing


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