Incorporating the Senior Healthcare Support Worker Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard and Level 3 City & Guilds

As models of care within the NHS evolve to provide a multi-disciplinary, flexible workforce and healthcare and social care are increasingly integrated, the role of the Healthcare Support Worker (HCSW) has become increasingly highlighted. In addition, a range of national drivers has resulted in an increase in the number of HCSWs employed in healthcare. Until recently, this role has not been clearly defined or regulated.

Incorporating the Senior Healthcare Support Worker Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard, this Level 3 City & Guilds course expects the candidate to already possess the core practical skills and underpinning knowledge and theory to be a healthcare practitioner in a GP Practice. This level is aimed at experienced HCSWs who are ready to demonstrate best practice and act as role models in addition to accepting more responsibility and accountability. The candidate may be required to act as a supervisor to other team members.

This course consists of 6 core units and one specialist option which, in the primary care setting, will most probably be Adult Nursing Support.

Care Certificate

Throughout this diploma, the candidate will be supported to ensure they have achieved all 15 standards of the Care Certificate. In most cases, the candidate will have already obtained the Care Certificate, and this will be recognised as prior learning and taken into consideration during the learner journey.


This apprenticeship is 95% government-funded with a 5% employer co-investment. Please call or email for more information.

If you are an employer with a pay bill over £3 million each year, you will automatically be paying into the apprenticeship Levy. Please call or email for more information.

Further funding information can be found here.

  • Duration: 15-18 Months

  • Location: Workplace

Entry Requirements

It is expected that the learner will be working towards Functional Skills Level 2 or have prior accepted GCSE certificates. Alternatively, learners with long-standing evidence of work to a Level 3 standard may apply if they are supported by their employer and would then follow Functional Skills training alongside the apprenticeship.

It should also be noted that the learner will need to achieve a Level 2 standard in English and mathematics prior to their End Point Assessment. These are referred to as Functional Skills and during enrolment, learners will be required to complete both Maths and English Initial Assessments and diagnostic tests to assess their level of understanding. If learners are exempt due to prior achievements, certificates must be presented as evidence before enrolment if this is the case, failure to do so will result in learners having to complete Functional Skills.

To be eligible for the apprenticeship learners will need to work a minimum of 30 hours per week and have the support of their line manager and employer. Learners will complete a self-assessment to assess their knowledge, skills and behaviours to ensure they are eligible for the apprenticeship.


This unit will include an initial workplace assessment and one-to-one discussion with the learner and line manager and will cover:

  • Understanding of candidate’s duties and responsibilities
  • Understanding candidate’s personal development in a healthcare setting
  • Study skills – including development of a learner journal
  • The Care Certificate – fundamental skills already obtained and how it sits alongside the apprenticeship
  • Core values and behaviours underpinning the role of Senior HCSW
  • Duty of care and the need to treat individuals with dignity and respect
  • Regulations, legislation, standards and importance of acting within agreed ways of working

Skills & Understanding – Core Units

1. Health and wellbeing

  • Implementation of routine and complex clinical tasks
  • Undertake a range of physiological measurements
  • Obtain and test samples and other specimens
  • Obtaining patient histories and health-related data
  • Understand and promote of physical & mental health and wellbeing 

  • Recognise and respond to deteriorations in physical and mental wellbeing
  • Assistance with an individual’s comfort and response to pain
  • Monitoring and maintenance of appropriate equipment

Candidates will also be expected to be able to perform basic life support and resuscitation and have relevant certification.

2. Duty of care and candour, safeguarding equality and diversity

This unit will be underpinned by a clear understanding of the candidate’s roles and responsibilities and knowledge and implementation of relevant procedures, codes of conduct and protocols (See Induction)

  • Understand the legislation, policies, protocols and ways of work impacting on the candidate’s role
  • Understand how duty of care contributes to safe practice and implement a duty of care and candour
  • Knowledge of how to respond to complaints
  • Understand and promote diversity, equality and inclusion
  • Demonstrate the ability to work in an inclusive way
  • Understand the principles of safeguarding and how to recognise and report signs of abuse
  • Understand how to recognise and report unsafe practices

3. Person centered care, treatment and support

Underpinning this unit is the requirement of the candidate to demonstrate a clear understanding of what it means to provide person-centered care in an integrated primary care setting and display the appropriate values and behaviours.

Candidates will be expected to:

  • Provide person-centered care and treatment
  • Adapt and respond to individual’s changing needs whilst promoting clinical effectiveness
  • Understand, analyse and promote factors contributing to an individual’s wellbeing
  • Implement and promote active participation and partnership with the wider healthcare team
  • Understand the factors influencing consent and risk assessments

4. Communication

  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals and groups
  • Use a range of different communication techniques
  • Demonstrate ways to overcome barriers to effective communication
  • Understand how to meet specific communication and language needs
  • Record and handle information effectively including confidentiality and GDPR
  • Demonstrate an awareness and promotion of local policies for handling information

5. Personal, people and quality improvement

  • Take responsibility for, prioritise and reflect on candidate’s own actions and work
  • Work as part of a team seeking help and guidance when not sure
  • Demonstrate the ability to delegate appropriately
  • Undertake the delivery of training and instruction to colleagues and supervise them if necessary
  • Demonstrate the ability to act as a role model and mentor to peers
  • Maintain, reflect upon and further develop candidate’s own skills and knowledge through developmental activities
  • Maintain evidence of personal development and actively prepare for and participate in appraisal

6. Health, Safety & Security

This unit focuses on the areas required to maintain a safe and healthy working environment, following the principle of implementing a Duty of Care and adhering to relevant legislation.

It includes:

  • Take appropriate action in response to incidents or emergencies following local guideline
  • Infection prevention and control techniques
  • Manage the environment to ensure it is safe and clean
  • Moving and handling safely
  • Promote fire safety
  • Handling hazardous substances
  • Understand and follow the principles risk assessment

Skills & Understanding – Optional Unit

For this option the candidate will be supervised by a registered clinician working in this area.

There will be a large degree of overlap with the core units and this is reflected in the Scheme of Work to avoid unnecessary duplication.

The unit consists of 2 key areas

  1. Assistance with a range of clinical tasks
  2. Support of individual’s in daily living

For the Adult Nursing Support option activities could include:

  • Ability to recommend activities and therapies to assist in individual’s health and wellbeing
  • Support adults in daily activities such as eating, mobility and personal hygiene
  • Support frailty and end of life care
  • Undertake treatments and dressings of lesions and wounds

As a PMA student, I have recently completed a level 3 Senior Healthcare Support worker, alongside this diploma, I also had to study and pass function skills level 2.

I am a mum of four, who works full time and during my studying with PMA, has had personal commitments and life struggles as most people do.  I wondered when I began this course how it would fit in with childcare, family time, football practice, ballet classes, swimming lessons and everything else that parents must do in their daily routine.

Once I began studying, I was determined to complete the course early.  I wanted it done! I didn’t want to be studying long than needed.  I am driven to succeed and have a target and aim to achieve it. My aim was 12 months.  March to March.  It was difficult at times, to be able find the time to study, studying at work, studying at home. A few hours here and a few hours there. 

But what I found helpful was the encouragement from both my tutors, who told me to rest when I needed it but also gave me that last push too.  I achieved my goal of passing my Function skills Maths level 2 in Maths in February and I finally completed the diploma in March.

And now, I am in the process of applying to the Open University to study an Apprenticeship Nursing Degree, with the support of my employer.

Course Delivery

This will include a wide range of teaching and learning techniques and styles including one-to-one coaching, discussions and teaching, observations, practical assessments, mentoring, independent research and e-learning. The assigned PMA Tutor/Assessor will use online face-to-face platforms such as Zoom/MS Teams/FaceTime/Skype, as well as periodic workplace visits.

Learners will have access to Aptem, our e-portfolio system that supports monitoring progression throughout the apprenticeship.  It is the central system that keeps track of learner assignments, and evidence and holds resources that will support learners to complete the apprenticeship.

Line managers will be key drivers in learner development, importantly in agreeing the unique learning plan and keeping abreast of progress at every step.

What is off-the-job training (OTJ)?

The learner will be able to evidence that they spend 6 hours per week on learning/training and that this is:

  • Directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard or framework and is teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours
  • The learning is taking place within the apprentice’s normal working hours (paid hours excluding overtime)

Apprentices will be expected to keep a log of all learning activities working towards the off-the-job requirements of 6 hours per week.

Off-the-job activities could include:

  • Attending masterclass teaching and learning sessions
  • Coaching
  • Independent research
  • In-house training
  • Shadowing
  • Industry visits
  • Mentoring
  • Supervision with employer
  • Writing assignments
  • Online learning
  • Manufacturer training
  • Roleplay
  • Simulation exercises
  • Team meetings that include training
  • Completion of a reflective journal

Functional Skills

Functional Skills are nationally recognised qualifications in English and maths.  They are part of a government initiative and designed to improve literacy and numeracy skills across the workforce.  Due to this, Functional Skills are a mandatory part of Apprenticeship Standards.  Anyone enrolling in an Apprenticeship must complete Functional Skills English and Functional Skills maths unless they have already achieved them previously at Level 2 or have GCSEs (or equivalent) in both subjects at Grade C or above.  Certificates must be presented as evidence before enrolment if this is the case, failure to do so will result in learners having to complete Functional Skills.

In order to support you in completing Functional Skills, PMA will undertake an initial assessment and diagnostic assessment which will enable its specialist tutors to identify which areas to focus on with you and this will form the basis of a personalised learning plan.

It is important to bear in mind that Functional Skills do require apprentices to sit formal examinations.  The team will support you with exam techniques alongside your learning plan and will arrange for the examinations to take place at your workplace.

If you are undertaking a Level 2 Apprenticeship, you are required to complete Functional Skills English and maths at Level 1.  If however, you complete Functional Skills early, it is a government requirement for PMA to upskill you to Level 2 Functional Skills.  If you are undertaking an Apprenticeship at Level 3 or higher, then you will automatically be enrolled in Level 2 Functional Skills.

End Point Assessment (EPA)

EPA is the name given to a series of tests that an apprentice must complete at the end of their apprenticeship in order to receive their certificate. The EPA confirms apprentices are capable of undertaking the job that they have been trained to do.  These tests are undertaken with an external organisation (known as an end point assessment organisation) to remove any bias from the examination process.  The employer will choose the end point assessment organisation and PMA will support them to obtain information pertinent to this if needed.

When apprentices enrol on an apprenticeship, they study various units covering a wide range of relevant topics for their job enhancing their knowledge, skills and behaviours. This is often referred to as being ‘on programme’ and apprentices must complete all of the mandatory components of this including Functional Skills where appropriate.

Once this is completed, it is at this point the employer, after discussion with their apprentice and PMA, ‘signs off’ their apprentice as ready for EPA. This decision process is known as the ‘gateway’ to End Point Assessment.

The apprentice must be assessed by a minimum of 2 different assessment methods and the methods used will be the ones most relevant to the job.

End-point assessment methods Duration Grading options
Multiple choice test 90 minutes Fail/Pass/Distinction
Observation of practice 120 minutes Fail/Pass
Professional discussion underpinned by a portfolio of evidence 60 minutes Fail/Pass/Distinction

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