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Enhancing your healthcare practice

This online, practice-based module is designed for healthcare assistants working in a range of healthcare settings. You will start by focusing on the differing roles of members of the healthcare team and explore the importance of promoting health. Through supervised practice and studying the module materials you will have the opportunity to reflect on the context of healthcare practice and to develop your knowledge, understanding and skills to meet patient/service user needs. Your knowledge, skills and competence will be assessed through written assignments and in practice.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

Your studies will help you maintain the currency and relevance of your practice in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

The module is made up of five blocks of study with concurrent practice-based learning.

Block 1 – Practitioners and practice focuses on learning about healthcare practice and will encourage you to manage your learning opportunities. You will also explore the principles and values that healthcare practitioners should hold; person-centred practice; and working with diverse and vulnerable individuals.

Block 2 – Promoting health and healthcare practice introduces you to the meaning of ‘public health’ and will develop your public health skills. You will consider the evidence that underpins effective health promoting activities and how these can be used to promote an individual’s sense of health and wellbeing. By drawing all this together you will enhance your health promoting practice.

Block 3 – Healthcare practice explores the roles and responsibilities that healthcare practitioners engage with in and across teams. Gathering, interpreting and managing information, including evidence to underpin risk management and assessment of individuals will be addressed. You will also examine practice interventions that are person-centred and appropriate. This block will conclude with an evaluation of whether these interventions have been successful.

Block 4 – Developing practice-based skills focuses on the range of skills that are crucial for your role as a healthcare practitioner. These skills include: privacy, dignity and compassion; infection control; safe moving and handling; vital signs; and dealing with emergencies.

Block 5 – Enhancing practice-based skills. This final block considers the other relevant skills that you need to further enhance your role in practice. These include: nutrition; hygiene; continence; medicines management; and assessment and management of wounds.

The theory element of the module requires 250 hours of study. Teaching will be mainly provided online by a tutor who will support your learning and achievement by providing online tutorials, email/telephone based support and feedback on assessed work.

The development of your healthcare practice (600 hours of practice learning) will be facilitated in your practice setting by a workplace supervisor. Of these 600 hours, 240 hours will be supervised by your workplace supervisor. This supervisor will be responsible for assessing your competence against a competency checklist using pre-determined criteria. This practice assessment tool is provided via a portfolio which includes guidelines on how to complete it. You will also have an Open University (OU) practice tutor who will be available to support your supervisor and you through review meetings and via telephone and/or email.

If you are considering progressing to Extending your contribution to healthcare practice (K236), you must have normally completed this module.

Vocational relevance

This practice based learning module can be taken as a standalone module or as a module of the Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice, Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice and Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice. These qualifications form/contribute towards the ‘Learning and development framework’ for healthcare assistants, healthcare support workers and assistant practitioners working at levels 2–4 on the Careers Framework. Primarily this module is aimed at individuals working at level 2 but aspiring to level 3 on the careers framework. The practice based focus will enable students to begin to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to underpin their working practices as they aspire to move along the career framework.

Outside the UK

This module explores healthcare provision from predominately a UK perspective. The module team have ensured that the module is relevant to the Republic of Ireland. Where policies are highlighted, students from the Republic of Ireland should consider content from the perspective of relevant local and national policy.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

For this module you are allocated a module tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Apart from the initial module briefing – all of your tuition will be delivered online or through other virtual means. Contact with your tutor will be through email, online discussion forums and telephone communication.

Through the online discussion forums, you will have opportunity to debate issues that arise in your studies and practice based learning. It is therefore important that you actively take part in the forums. You will also have an opportunity to discuss, both with your tutor and with fellow students, any other issues and concerns that you have. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods.

If you encounter difficulties, either with your understanding of ideas and concepts from the module or with your study skills, your tutor or a specialist tutor (for example in supporting students with dyslexia) can help. If you do need extra support or arrangements to accommodate any special requirements, you can access the services provided by your OU regional or national centre. These cover preparation and induction, learning skills support (including examination preparation), services to students with a disability or additional requirement and educational and careers advice and guidance.

You will also be allocated a practice tutor – a knowledgeable practitioner who will meet with you and your supervisor at the beginning of the module to explain the portfolio and practice assessment requirements and answer any questions. The practice tutor will also be available to you via email/ telephone should any queries arise during the module. Around the mid point of the module there is a formal arrangement for the practice tutor to contact you via telephone or email to check how your practice-based learning is going and to discuss any concerns you or your supervisor may have. Towards the end of the module another meeting will be held with your supervisor and you to confirm the practice assessment requirements and respond to any remaining queries.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a portfolio and a project based on your portfolio.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in September 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


This module is open only to applicants who can demonstrate they have support from their employer/organisation and have access to a workplace supervisor. You will be expected to submit a permissions agreement which includes evidence of good health and character and employer support.

What will a workplace supervisor have to do?

To ensure you receive support and assessment decisions that are valid the supervisor must:

  • be qualified in the same field of practice as the one in which you are practising
  • have completed a minimum of one year’s post-qualifying experience in the same field of practice as the one in which you are practising
  • have completed supervisor preparation as specified in accordance with statutory/professional body standards where available
  • comply with any statutory body/professional standards related to continuing to act as a supervisor, where specified
  • have completed an induction to this module.

Commit to:

  • facilitating your practice-based learning
  • providing supervision commensurate with your competence and confidence
  • liaising with colleagues to access feedback on your practice performance
  • liaising with the practice tutor as required through agreed methods of communication
  • participating in the three review meetings between you, your supervisor and practice tutor
  • completing practice assessment records
  • being accountable for the assessment of your practice performance
  • alerting the practice tutor to any concerns about your capacity/ability to meet the standards of conduct and health required of a student in healthcare practice.

If you are not sure if there is someone suitable in your workplace to supervise and assess your practice for this module, please ask to speak to a Health and Social Care Staff Tutor in your region/nation for advice.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

As this module is delivered mainly online it is important to develop your confidence in the use of IT. There are a range of local and online resources to support people in developing their confidence in their IT skills and you may wish to access these in preparing for studying this module. IT support will be provided within the module including an OU Computing helpdesk and exercises you can complete to prepare for your studies.


Start End England fee Register
05 Sep 2015 Sep 2016 £2700.00

To register for this course - see How to register below. Registration closes 13/08/15

The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

This module is expected to start for the last time in September 2019.

To register for this module, please refer to the entry requirements and contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service (online registration is not available).

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 05/08/2015.

What's included

All the study materials will be provided to you online via the website. You will also receive a portfolio in which you will record your practice based learning for assessment, and a printed Module Guide which will provide you with information on how to get started online, including using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of written material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

When considering this module it is important that you discuss with your employer/organisation any additional requirements you have that could impact on your practice-based learning.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.