Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Apprenticeships
  3. Higher and degree apprenticeships (England)
  4. Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship

Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship

The Open University’s Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship enables healthcare support workers to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to fulfil the role of Assistant Practitioner. The role of Assistant Practitioner fills a crucial gap in healthcare delivery between a healthcare support worker and registered practitioner.

Our Higher Apprenticeship in Health is a practice-based learning programme that combines on and off-the-job learning and development, delivered flexibly around the demands of your workplace. Apprentices will learn new skills and knowledge whilst carrying out real work as part of a team in a healthcare setting.

Through completion of this apprenticeship, learners will gain:

  • New skills and knowledge to carry out more focused and challenging roles in their chosen clinical or service area
  • Practice experience and evidence of assessed competency in the workplace
  • Transferable skills and preparation to take on more demanding roles within health and social care delivery

For employers, it provides the opportunity to develop and retain current staff as well as bring in new talent. Because apprentices study flexibly alongside work, they will put their newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of patients and service users. The programme will enable you to:

  • Develop your current support workforce and/or bring in and develop new talent
  • Increase staff retention by offering career progression to valued support staff
  • Improve the experience of patients and service users
  • Maximise use of the apprenticeship levy and embed apprenticeships in workforce planning and service transformation

Who is it for?

The programme is suitable for new and existing healthcare support staff who are responsible for delivering direct care and have the potential to take on greater challenges and responsibility as Assistant Practitioners.

It will support the development of Assistant Practitioner roles across a wide range of acute and community services including care for older adults (long term conditions; end-of-life care, dementia care, mental health and other service user groups) as well as services for Children and Families. The programme will equip apprentices with the capabilities to work with different healthcare professionals such as nurses, occupational therapists; physiotherapists; speech and language therapists depending on, and tailored to, the specific needs of service.

What topics does the apprenticeship cover?

The Higher Apprenticeship includes a 180 credit core programme of essential knowledge and skills including:

  • The biological, physical, social, political, ethical and psychological concepts relevant to the apprentice’s healthcare practice
  • The development of health and social care in the UK and the political and contemporary context in which care takes place
  • The differing approaches to person-centred care
  • Theories, concepts and professional principles that underpin healthcare practice
  • A range of research methods and their application to healthcare practice

In addition, apprentices undertake 60 credits of specialist learning from a range of options, chosen by you to best suit the service setting, including:

  • Adult health and social care
  • Dementia care
  • End-of-life care
  • Mental health and community
  • Human biology
  • Working with children, young people and families

Why choose The Open University’s Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship?

  • Delivered flexibly around the demands of your organisation and requiring minimal time away from the workplace, using our tutor-supported, rich-media online learning methods.
  • Learning is accessible 24/7 and can be delivered simultaneously to various locations using our tried-and-trusted educational technology, providing a consistent programme for multiple staff, regardless of where they are based.
  • Our Higher Apprenticeship is based on 15 years’ successful experience of working in partnership with employers to deliver a practice-based pre-registration nursing programme; working with over 100 health and social care employers and developing over 1,500 registered practitioners.

Programme structure

An apprenticeship requires at least 20% of an employee’s time to be allocated for off-the-job study, our tutor-supported online learning gives you the flexibility to pick the most suitable times proactively and reactively and minimise disruption to service.

This means apprentices are not required to be on day release at the same time and frontline services are protected; it also means travel costs and expenses are minimised. Online delivery is both varied and interactive, using rich media formats that engage and enthuse apprentices on their journey. Learning is perfectly suited for staff working shifts, as it can be accessed 24/7 on computers, tablets and mobile devices, and can be immediately applied into working practice. Online forums and discussion groups allow apprentices to learn from others from different service settings and with different backgrounds.

In addition to a designated academic and professional lead for healthcare and account management support, we will deploy expert staff to support you and your apprentices:

  • Practice Tutor: Helps to integrate learning into the workplace across the entire programme and supports the delivery of the work-based learning modules. Apprentices and their line managers will be visited by a practice tutor at least three times per year.
  • Academic Tutor: Facilitates learning within the knowledge modules at each stage of the qualification through personalised tuition, delivery of online tutorials, marking of assignments and detailed feedback.
  • Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager: Supports employers to deliver apprenticeship programmes that meet organisational needs and to agreed financial and performance targets. Also provides regular management information.

Learners will also have access to a Student Support Team for advice and guidance on any aspect of their learning including support relating to any declared learning difficulties or disabilities.

Work-based learning

Through effective partnership with employers and supervisors and through the practice-portfolio assessment, employers can identify and assess specific skills and competencies in accordance with local requirements.

Apprentices will undertake two work-based learning modules, where they will be required to reflect on their role and apply academic knowledge to their working practices and document their acquisition of skills and competencies in a portfolio.

Course Summary


2 - 3 years

Qualification achieved

  • Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice
Contact us

Further information

For a more detailed look at our Healthcare Assistant Practitioner Higher Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

Download brochure