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.

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.

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.

Progression and employment

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.

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.

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).