Bergzicht Training and Development has become the fourth organisation in the Western Cape to now offer Community Health Work education and training accredited by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) in South Africa.

“The HWSETA has in place strict criteria for the accreditation of Skills Development Providers and Bergzicht Training and Development has met the criteria and therefore have been accredited to offer the Community Health Work NQF Level 2 qualification,” said Ms Juanita Moller, Provincial Manager of HWSETA in the Western Cape.

The official announcement was made at an event on 23 November.

Students who now complete Bergzicht Training and Development’s Health and Frail Care Programme will receive a certificate endorsed by the HWSETA for a skills programme linked to the Community Health Work (NQF Level 2) qualification. The skills programme comprises 37 credits and 370 hours of training.

“Even though we have always maintained the highest standards and have used the services of qualified nurses throughout the 13 weeks of the health and frail care training, this accreditation allows us to show potential employers that our programme does meet the necessary standards as required to train nursing assistants and frail care workers,” said Bergzicht’s CEO, Ms Renske Minnaar, when the organisation first received word of its accreditation.

The programme is taught by Sr Helen Kiewiedo, a qualified nurse and an accredited assessor and moderator registered with the HWSETA. It equips participants with the skills and knowledge to take care of sick or frail persons like patients suffering from HIV/Aids or cancer or recovering from a stroke, as well as the elderly, sick babies or children.

Over the years, this programme have opened many doors for graduates, many of them like Krystal Mowers, who is currently working as a frail care assistant in private employ in Stellenbosch. Before completing Bergzicht’s programme in 2015, Krystal, who was set on pursuing a career as a nurse, endured many months of financial uncertainty as she worked towards attaining a qualification which would open the door to this lifelong dream.

“I would put away some money here and there to hopefully apply for a nursing course in future. But something always came up or the children needed some stuff and then you would dip into those savings and use it for that instead,” explains Mowers, who was one of Bergzicht’s bursary students.

“Bergzicht gave me an opportunity to just walk in the door and all I needed to bring along was myself, the will to change my life and the motivation to do the work required in the programme.”

Starting in 2017, Bergzicht will also start enrolling students who are interested in the health and frail care sector, but are in a position to pay for their own studies or whose employers are willing to pay for their studies as part of their employees’ continuous education.

“Over and above the opportunities for bursary and non-bursary students, we will also offer those individuals who have built up years of experience and knowledge working in the health and frail care sector, but have no formal qualifications, with an opportunity to enrol for our programme via the recognition of prior learning option. At least three programmes will be offered in 2017,” says Minnaar.