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Extending your contribution to healthcare practice

This online, practice-based module is designed for healthcare assistants working across a range of healthcare settings. In this module, you will explore the opportunities and challenges you may face in promoting healthy lifestyles, in caring for people with acute and long-term conditions, and providing end-of-life care. Investigating a range of case studies will enable you to reflect on your practice and develop the knowledge, understanding and skills required to meet patient/service users’ needs and enhance your practice. Throughout the module you will apply your learning to practice where your competence will be assessed.

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
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

This module, which runs over ten months, will enable you to develop your healthcare knowledge and practice. In particular, your studies both during the study period and after completion of the module will help you to maintain the currency of your practice within an ever-changing healthcare environment and may also enhance your future career development.

The study materials use case studies and audio recordings of practitioners and service users to explore your role in delivering care. The learning activities relate the study materials to your practice to develop further your knowledge and understanding of evidence-based healthcare.

The module is made up of four blocks of study with concurrent practice-based skills development.

Block 1 Promoting health: opportunities and challenges

This block begins by setting the scene for the module. You then go on to explore the opportunities and challenges arising from maintaining physical and mental health across the life module. You also reinforce and extend your understanding of key skills for promoting health, are asked to undertake learning activities in practice, and to build evidence of learning for your Portfolio.

Block 2 Understanding long-term conditions

This block focuses on long-term conditions across the life module, making use of case studies to explore stroke, dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes and enduring mental health. It builds practical and professional skills in identifying and assessing healthcare needs, and supporting service users in self-care and formal care situations. You extend your knowledge and understanding of relevant UK policies and health trends and of anatomy and physiology relating to long term conditions. In the final unit you explore new initiatives in promoting service user independence, including the growing contribution of telecare and telehealth.

Block 3 Responding to acute conditions

This block starts with an overview of urgent and emergency care services and introduces service user experiences as a theme running across the block.  Throughout this block a range of clinical skills are discussed and these provide the context for wider explorations of urgent and emergency care. The block explores urgent and emergency care in community and hospital settings and a range of case studies are presented, alongside the relevant underpinning anatomy and physiology. The block concludes with a discussion of the quality of care in urgent and emergency care and the importance of service user perspectives.  

Block 4 Providing palliative and end-of-life care

This block explores the context, policy and practice of palliative and end-of-life care. Talk about death and dying and the use of support strategies is encouraged.  A set of case studies are utilised to illustrate some of the challenges for service delivery across a range of different settings. The capacity of service users to make informed decisions and Advanced Care Planning is addressed and the differences between adult, child and young people’s palliative and end-of-life care is discussed.  The use of complementary and alternative medicine is explored alongside a range of skills for practice.  The ethical and legal requirements for practice are also discussed.  All of these elements are fundamental for practitioners working with end-of-life care in the home, hospital, nursing home or hospice.  

The underpinning theoretical 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. Online forums provide the opportunity for you to reflect on your practice experiences and to discuss and debate current topics in healthcare practice with your tutor and fellow students.

The development of your healthcare practice (350 hours of practice learning) will be facilitated in your practice setting by a 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.

You will learn

You will learn how to evaluate and communicate to members of multidisciplinary teams and service users some of the current issues in healthcare policy and practice and to appreciate the similarities and differences in the perspectives of service users, professionals and wider society. You will develop a wide range of practice-based skills, including those related to clinical leadership for healthcare workers at levels 3 and 4 on the Career Framework. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own learning and consider how this may be applied in your everyday practice to meet the needs of service users and their relatives. Such reflection may, at times, challenge some of your values and beliefs in relation to your own practice.

Vocational relevance

This practice-based learning module can be taken as a standalone module or as a module contributing to the Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice or Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice. Primarily this module is aimed at healthcare assistants, healthcare support workers and assistant practitioners who are currently working at level 3 on the Career Framework and are aspiring to move to level 4, or who are already working at level 4 but wish to have a qualification to support this level of practice. The practice-based focus will enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to underpin their working practices.

Outside the UK

This module explores healthcare provision predominantly from 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 will be expected to 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 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. Your tuition will be delivered online or through other virtual means. Contact with your tutor will be through email, online discussion forums and telephone conversations.

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 issues and concerns that you have. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be keen to help you develop your study skills and succeed in your studies.

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 workplace 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 to review how your work-based learning is going and discuss any concerns you or your supervisor may have. Towards the end of the module a third three-way meeting will be held 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) comprises a project and a portfolio. Details for submitting this work are given in the Assessment Guide.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in November 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

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module, which builds on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from study at OU level 1. It is intended for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU, although the study material is designed to be accessible to those new to this area. You must have normally studied our OU level 1 module, Enhancing your healthcare practice (K117), which is ideal preparation for this module.

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 sign and submit a permissions agreement which includes evidence of good health and character and employer support.

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

What will a workplace supervisor have to do?

To ensure you receive support and assessment decisions that are valid, the workplace 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 the OU’s induction for workplace supervisors.

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 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.

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
07 Nov 2015 Sep 2016 £2700.00

To register for this course - see How to register below. Registration closes 15/10/15

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in November 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 31/07/2015.

What's included

All the study materials will be provided online via the website. You will receive a printed Module Guide which will introduce the module and provide information on how to get started online.

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

The module is delivered online so you will have to spend a considerable amount of time using a computer and the internet. Written transcripts of any audio components are available, as are printable versions of the online text based material. Some online material may not be fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future. 

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.