Course Outline

Study day at venue
Case study submission
Competency booklet
CPD hours60

The role of the Health Care Assistant in Primary Care will include anatomy and physiology, and basic ear care management, including irrigation. This course is designed to ensure that those HCAs who are expected to irrigate are able to do so confidently and safely.

The HCA is required to attend day 1 with a mentor. A mentor can only mentor one HCA student on this course at any one time. If a student attends without a mentor on the first day as stipulated they will not be permitted to stay for the course. Further information on mentor requirements can be found in the resources section of the website here.

As a mentor, if you have not undertaken study in the past three years, it would be beneficial to undertake the full study day (Ear Care and Irrigation in General Practice) to support your student.  If you have undertaken study, attending with your HCA on the first day will act as your update.

HCAs can only perform ear irrigation providing the following criteria are met. The patient:

  • The patient is over 16 years old
  • The patient has been assessed by a clinician every time before a patient is delegated
  • HCA’s must not undertake irrigation for any patient when it is the first time they have ever had their ears irrigated
  • HCA’s do not see patients who have had problems with irrigation previously
  • HCAs do not undertake irrigation on patients where contra indications or special precautions have been identified as a risk

Only after all these criteria have been met and documented can the procedure be delegated to the HCA (providing the HCA has successfully completed a written test paper, an oral test and a competency document).

On successful completion of the course, the Practice will be required to review and update the current Ear Irrigation Protocol, inform the Practice Insurers that the HCA has an extended role and issue the HCA with an updated job description.

Each Health Care Assistant attending the Ear Irrigation Course for HCA’s must have a registered nurse mentor. Only in exceptional circumstances and with prior approval from the course tutor will a mentor be allowed to mentor more than one student.

 Stipulations to be a mentor

  • Must be undertaking irrigation of ears regularly i.e. at least once weekly
  • Must have undertaken formal ear care education in the last three years  (this should have included a minimum of anatomy and physiology of the ear, otoscopy, normal geographical markers, irrigation and instrumentation)
  • Must be able to provide the clinical time to provide support to the HCA – consideration should be made with regards to shift pattern and frequency of patients requiring this skill

This commitment is at least 20 patients in a three month period working with their student

  • Must be able to attend the first study day with the HCA. If a HCA attends without a mentor they will not be permitted to stay
  • A mentor declaration form will be required prior to attending the course to confirm the above commitment

Suitable For


Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of the basic anatomy and physiology of the ear
  • An understanding of basic ear care
  • A foundation of knowledge on which to base practical ear irrigation
  • A foundation knowledge of otoscopy
  • Accountability and documentation

Dates & Locations

Start Date
18 March 2020
Two days
18 March 2020
Study Day
25 March 2020
Study Day
7 September 2020
Two days
7 September 2020
Study Day
14 September 2020
Study Day


Assessment is by written exam on day 2 followed by an oral test, and completion of their competency book within three months of the course.