HNC Occupational Therapy Support

HNC Occupational Therapy Support

The Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Occupational Therapy Support at SCQF level 7 is designed to give candidates an opportunity to develop and practise occupational therapy principles, values, and philosophy, and to gain a working knowledge of legislation and policy. They will also develop knowledge and skills in anatomy and physiology, psychology and sociology — these are essential for understanding individuals’ needs and the role of occupational therapy.

This qualification is available through colleges.

Why deliver this qualification

The HNC in Occupational Therapy Support is extremely flexible and can be delivered by day-release, full-time, and/or distance-learning routes. It can incorporate a range of blended approaches.

Developments in online resources and virtual learning environments offer further opportunities for an open approach to learning. This will enable centres to meet the needs of a variety of candidates.

Who does this qualification suit

The HNC in Occupational Therapy Support is appropriate for all occupational therapy support staff across all areas where occupational therapy is practised. It is being increasingly used to provide evidence of capability and competence.


Entry is at the discretion of the centre. Candidates must be working with and/or be able to gain the supervision of an occupational therapist in their workplace or on placement. If a candidate is not currently employed as a support worker in occupational therapy, they must have relevant care work experience.

Examples of formal entry qualifications include:

  • qualifications at SCQF level 6, eg two Highers
  • a relevant programme of study based on SQA National Certificate programmes, eg Social Care 2
  • SVQ in Social Services and Healthcare at SCQF level 7

All candidates are expected to demonstrate the necessary personal qualities, skills, and commitment for a career in occupational therapy support. Moreover, they must have the potential to meet the academic and practical demands of the course.

All candidates must have practical experience of a relevant nature and quality, and have a level of emotional maturity commensurate with work of this nature.

Potential candidates must be interviewed by an occupational therapist who is delivering the programme.

Centres must ensure that candidates following the full-time route have satisfactorily completed the enhanced Disclosure Scotland process (or Criminal Records Bureau check for England/Northern Ireland/Wales). Full-time candidates may evidence care experience through paid or voluntary work. It is recommended that full-time applicants’ suitability be determined through a reference from employment (paid or voluntary) within the care sector.

Centres must ensure that all day-release and distance-learning applicants have satisfactorily completed the enhanced Disclosure Scotland process as part of their conditions of employment.

Centres may also consider individuals who, for whatever reason, do not meet the above criteria but who are otherwise judged to be suitable candidates.

Speakers of languages other than English will be required to evidence achievement of IELTS at 5.5, expecting to progress to 6 by the end of the HNC, should they wish to progress to a degree programme.


On completion of the HNC, candidates may progress to appropriate degree programmes, including the BSc Occupational Therapy.

Successful completion of the qualification entitles candidates to apply for entry to the second year of the BSc (Hons) degree.

The HNC will enhance progression to employment in roles such as assistant practitioner and paraprofessional.


Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority are required to come forward for approval and should contact SQA’s Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA’s general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Systems and Qualification Approval Guide.

How to assess

Throughout the course, candidates will experience a range of assessment instruments. Formats for assessment are suggested within each unit to allow for flexibility, and to enable centres to respond to the needs of both learners and the care sector. There may be opportunities to integrate assessments across units, such as elements of Occupational Therapy: Needs and Rights, and Occupational Therapy: Psychology and Human Development. The logistics of this will depend on the programme in individual centres.

Where can you take this course?

Qualification content and delivery tools


Qualification Structure

HNC Occupational Therapy Support

Group Award code: GP0H 15 (96 SCQF credit points)

The HNC in Occupational Therapy Support at SCQF level 7 consists of nine mandatory units (96 SCQF credit points).

Group Award Specification


This Group Award has been replaced and has entered into its lapsing period.

The finishing date for this qualification is 17/07/2020

Centres should note that when a Group Award is entered into its lapsing period, the following will apply:

  • The Group Award will be deleted from the relevant catalogue.
  • The Group Award Arrangement document will remain until the qualification reaches its finish date at which point it will be removed from SQA website and archived.
  • No new centres may be approved to offer the Group Award.
  • Centres should only enter candidates whom they expect to complete the Group Award during the defined lapsing period of three years (HNC) and four years (HND).

Group Award Specification

Title: HNC Occupational Therapy Support
Code: GM6J 15
Date: Version 01 (July 2017)
Download: HNC Occupational Therapy Support Arrangements Document (524 KB)


Title: HNC Occupational Therapy Support
Code: GM6J 15
Date: July 2017
Download: HNC Occupational Therapy Support Framework (73 KB)


Title: HNC Occupational Therapy Support
Code: G90F 15
Date: March 2010
Download: HNC Occupational Therapy Support Framework (55 KB)

Arrangements Documents

Title: HNC Occupational Therapy Support
Code: G90F 15
Date: Version 02 (April 2009)
Download: HNC Occupational Therapy Support Arrangements Document (432 KB)

Unit(s) and delivery tools

Any other information

The HNC is jointly certificated by SQA and the College of Occupational Therapists. Many employers value the HNC because it has both SQA and professional body recognition.


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