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Illustration of footsteps

First Steps

Welcome to First Steps – our popular online learning tool for health care assistants.

This course is free for everyone to access. If you are not an RCN member, you will need to sign up with a free account and return to this page. RCN members and free account users can access the course by clicking the button below and logging in using their existing details.

Whether you’re new to your role, or looking to boost your knowledge, First Steps will give you the skills you need to succeed.

Mapped to a range of National Occupational Standards, First Steps covers the key aspects of assisting nursing practice.

Watch our short clip below to hear all the things you can expect to learn:


As you can see, topics vital to the HCA role are covered – such as:

  • the safeguarding of vulnerable people
  • recording and accessing nursing and medical records
  • the principles surrounding accountability and delegation
  • the legal requirements of confidentiality, consent, and capacity
  • infection prevention and control

And lots more! Whilst there’s plenty to learn – you can progress at your own pace, by dipping in and out as suits your schedule. You could use it in your own time for independent learning – or as part of your wider workplace induction.

We recommend that when using First Steps, as with all your learning, you keep a record of your reflections. To help you do this, a reflective template is included. If you’re maintaining a learning portfolio, your reflections will form a valuable addition. Why not encourage your colleagues to enhance their own professional development too by letting them know about our unique learning tool?

Proudly display your completion certificate

As an RCN member, you’ll receive a certificate to show that you have successfully completed the learning. 

If you have already signed up for the course, you can access it on the RCN Professional Services page (and bookmark this page for future use).


It has given me the confidence to discuss with my manager the importance of training, education and lifelong learning.

Health Care Assistant

I found the learning resources interesting and I look forward to applying what I have learnt to my place of work and day to day activities.

Health Care Assistant

Extremely useful, easy to use and leads to real improvements in learning outcomes.

The RCN value your feedback on our resources and would appreciate you filling in the short evaluation form at the end of the course. This will enable to add relevant practice based content to the resource and ensure updates for to provide the most current evidence based educational resources.