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Enhancing your healthcare practice

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This online, practice-based module is designed for healthcare support workers in a diverse range of healthcare settings. You will focus on the differing roles of members of the healthcare team and explore the importance of promoting health. You will go on to reflect on your healthcare knowledge and understanding, and develop skills and competencies, including those around: risk management, hygiene, nutrition and emergency care. Through supervised practice, reflection and by studying the module materials you will meet service user, patient and client need. Your knowledge, skills and competence will be assessed through written assignments, interactive computer-marked assessment and the completion of a practice portfolio.

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. The order of the blocks is subject to change, but at present they are arranged as follows:

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 person-centred and appropriate practice interventions. This block concludes with an evaluation of whether these interventions have been effective.

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. Tuition will be provided online by an associate lecturer 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 providing direct care to clients and service users (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.

Entry requirements

This module is open only to applicants who can demonstrate they are working in an area which allows them to provide direct care for at least two days a week, that they have support from their employer/organisation and have access to a workplace supervisor. Areas of practice in which students are required to achieve competence are: Care, compassion and communication; Organisational aspects of care; Infection prevention and control; Nutrition and fluid management; and Numeracy.
You will be expected to submit a supervision agreement signed by yourself and your employer which includes evidence of good health and character, availability of a supervisor 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 contact us and ask to speak to a Health and Social Care Staff Tutor in your region/nation for advice.

To register for this module or to find out more, contact us.

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.

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

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

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. All of your tuition will be delivered online or through other virtual means. Contact with your tutor will be through email, online synchronous events, online discussion forums and by phone.

The online synchronous event which is an online tutorial provides an opportunity to meet fellow students and your tutor online to discuss your learning. 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 skills.

If you encounter difficulties 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 by contacting the Student Recruitment and Support Centre.

You will also be allocated a practice tutor – a knowledgeable practitioner who will meet with you and your supervisor on three occasions: at the beginning of the module to explain the portfolio and practice assessment requirements and answer any questions; midway through the module to check your progress and discuss any concerns you or your supervisor may have; and towards the end of the module to confirm all practice assessment requirements have been achieved and respond to any remaining queries. The practice tutor will also be available to you via email or telephone should any queries arise during the module. 

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 a piece of evidence in your portfolio.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K117 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Enhancing your healthcare practice starts twice a year – in Februaryand September. This page describes the module starting in September 2019 and February 20201, the last time it will start.

1The February 2020 start is available in England and Wales only. The next start date in Northern Ireland or Scotland will be September 2019.

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.