QQI Level 5 Physiotherapy Assistance (Health Service Skills)

The role of a Physiotherapy Assistant – based on the Healthcare Assistant Award enables you to work in a supportive role delivering personal care and physiotherapy support in a clinical or home setting.  This programme combines the clinical skills of a Healthcare Assistant with the skills & knowledge to support the client in need of Physiotherapy – under the supervision of a Physiotherapist. These skills can be applied in a variety of settings including clinical & home based care settings. Graduates of this course can pursue a career in the Physiotherapy, Sports or Healthcare Industry.


1 year

  • QQI Level 5 Certificate in Health Service Skills 5M3782
  • QQI Component Maths 5N1433 (available as an option in the evening for learners requiring Maths for progression).

300 including QQI examination fees. (Medical card holders exempt from QQI examination fee of €50) Note: Fees for 2023/24 are being updated.

  • Care Skills 5N2770 – Understand the holistic care of a client over the full life span from birth to death, including areas such as disabilities, mental health, care of the older person and palliative care. Practical instruction in washing, feeding, mobilisation, toileting and grooming. End of life care is included as part of the holistic care.
  • Care Support 5N0758 – Explore roles, responsibilities and entitlements of a care worker. Demonstrate an ability to plan and provide enhanced quality of care.
  • Anatomy & Physiology 5N0749 – learn the structure of the various systems within the human body e.g. digestive, system, respiratory system, nervous system, skeletal system etc. and how they work.  Develop an understanding of the interrelationships that exit between these systems.
  • Physiotherapy Assistant Theory 5N3771 – Equip the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to work effectively and offer support to a physiotherapist in a clinical environment. Identify the skills required to support therapeutic handling in a range of physiotherapy interventions. Practice therapeutic handling in a range of physiotherapy interventions and reflect on relationships with client relatives and multidisciplinary team members and interpersonal issues that arise in physiotherapy interventions
  • Physiotherapy Assistant Practice 5N3770 Appreciate the role of posture, the benefits of therapeutic interventions to include exercise therapy, strengthening, range of movement & hydrotherapy. Execute the safe mobilisation of clients of all weight bearing abilities, to include supportive positioning of affected body parts using appropriate equipment.
  • Rehabilitation Support 5N3775 This module equips the learner with the knowledge, skill and competence to apply the principles and practices of rehabilitation in the care of the individual with neurological injuries or limb absence.
  • Communications 5N0690 – Acquire the writing skills needed for the workplace, learn to speak fluently and coherently in a professional setting, develop interpersonal skills and have an understanding of the impact of ICT on society.
  • Work Experience 5N1356 – Planning, preparation and reflection on work placement. Job finding strategies, CV and personal statement preparation, interview skills. Practise employability skills with a view to future planning
  • Infection Prevention and Control 5N3734 – Learn how to prevent the spread of infection in the healthcare setting including hand hygiene and standard precautions. Practical instruction in all aspects of practice including cleaning following blood borne spillage and terminal cleaning.

Additional Training:

    • Patient Moving and Handling Certification (requirement for work experience): Manual handling training is required under Regulation 13 of the 1993 (General Application Regulations) and 1993 Manual Handling Regulations. This training programme is aimed at providing all persons at work with proper techniques when lifting, carrying, loading, pushing and supporting. It provides employees with good work practices such as proper lift Manual Handling Techniques. The course includes being aware of the necessity for safe methods of manual handling to reduce the risk of injury and understanding the need to avoid manual handling by using mechanical aids where possible. Furthermore, assessing the task using the TILE criteria (task, individual, load, environment) and implementing the correct method of lifting ensuring minimal risk to self and co-workers will also be included.  Finally, knowing how to safely execute all relevant workplace manual handling tasks will be demonstrated. A certificate will be issued to learners who successfully complete the course.
    • HSE Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk Certificate (requirement for work experience): This 3.5-hour course has been developed by the HSE and delivered by the college staff. Its primary focus is to inform learners on the guiding practice and procedures to keep vulnerable adults safe in the community and residential settings.  The content includes learners being informed of their safeguarding responsibilities, the different types of abuse and neglect and how to recognise them and how to report concerns in line with HSE guidelines.  All students receive a certificate on completion at the end of the course.
    • First Aid Workshop: This First Aid workshop will introduce the learner to the principles of First Aid. The course includes identifying the role and responsibilities of the first Aider, understanding the principles of infection control.  In addition, learners will describe and demonstrate how to assess a casualty- by conducting an initial check, physical examination, by obtaining a SAMPLE history, assessing levels of Response (AVPU) and identifying problems that are an immediate threat to life.  Finally, learners will describe the requirements for a handover to other health care practitioners.
  • Leaving Certificate, LCA or QQI Level 4.Mature students are exempt from Leaving Certificate requirements. All applicants are interviewed. An offer of a place on this courses is contingent on the applicant meeting the entry requirement set out here and satisfactory presentation at interview. CERFL proficiency at B2 for access to Level 5 courses for those whose first language is not English
  •  Awareness that aspects of the course are both physically and emotionally demanding
  • Garda Vetting (Carried out by Cork ETB once registered)

This is a one year course from September to May. Work Experience is mandatory. This is an integral part of the learning journey and it allows students to merge classroom learning with practical application.

Students will undertake a block work placement of 4 weeks (min. 150 hours) in a hospital or care home setting. Garda Vetting is an integral part of the application procedure for this course. Hepatitus B and Flu Vaccinations (others may be required in individual settings) are required for work experience in a healthcare setting.

Applicants should be aware that healthcare environments used in work experience may insist that students are fully vaccinated for Covid 19.

The full QQI Level 5 award facilitates entry, on a competitive basis to a range of third level institutions nationwide.

  • QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Health Services Supervisory Management 6M4978 (Morrison’s Island Campus) OR
  • QQI Level 6 Advanced Psychosocial Awareness & Training 6M2263.

In addition, mature applicants may apply for nursing courses including Mature Nursing Degree programmes in UCC, MTU Kerry, SETU (Waterford) such as General Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing, Midwifery and Intellectual Disability Nursing through the CAO’s Mature entry route. Other links from this award include Social Care, Physiology & Health Science, Community Development, Youth and Community Work, Psychology and Arts.

Further details are available from the relevant institutions.

This course enables students to work in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, day care centres, rehabilitation departments as a Physiotherapy Assistant, Healthcare Assistant or Homecare Assistant (Home Help).

Returning to education in my 40’s was quite daunting. I had been considering the Health Care Course in the West Cork Campus for many years, but always found an excuse to talk myself out of it. My advice to anyone thinking or considering applying for any course is to do it NOW!

From the very first day, the atmosphere in the college was that of a family environment. I was anxious about being too old, but our class had a mix of all age groups and we all worked well together. If anyone in the class had any issues or struggles the tutors and students alike offered support. Each and every member of staff was both encouraging and supportive.

The course delivery and work experience placement were fulfilling and informative. I learned so much about myself during my time at the West Cork Campus. I enjoyed every minute. I completed my course and received distinctions in each module. This is down to the work our teachers put into teaching the course. I am now employed in a job that I thoroughly enjoy and I owe this to my wonderful teachers

Jude O'Donovan (Healthcare Assistant 2022), Horticulture

I completed the Healthcare course in the West Cork Campus in Skibbereen and found it enjoyable, challenging, rewarding, and confidence boosting. The teachers were very knowledgeable, approachable and their strategy of promoting teamwork between the students was invaluable. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in becoming a Healthcare Assistant.

Monica Looney (Healthcare Assistant 2022), Healthcare