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Palliative care assistant Specialist healthcare assistant

Palliative care assistants provide specialist end of life care and support to patients and their families.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,250 to £19,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but most employers will expect you to have:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths
  • paid or unpaid work experience in a healthcare role

Some employers will also expect you to have a good understanding of end of life care, or palliative care.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You’ll also need an enhanced background check which your employer will arrange for you.

Health Careers has more information on becoming a palliative care assistant.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to relate to people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • team working skills
  • the ability to work on your own initiative

3. What you'll do

You’ll provide healthcare support to patients who are in the last months or days of their lives, making sure that they’re as comfortable as possible. 

You’ll also monitor changes to the patient’s condition and make sure you keep other health professionals informed.

You’ll give emotional support to the patients’ families. 

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • applying simple wound dressings
  • giving medication
  • changing medical equipment like catheters, when required
  • making sure equipment is cleaned and stored correctly
  • caring for the person's body after death

You’ll also provide personal care and support to patients, like:

  • helping with washing, hair and oral care
  • helping with dressing and undressing
  • applying lotions and creams
  • help with toileting
  • eye care, for example administering eye drops
  • preparing light meals and drinks
  • providing social contact and encouraging the family to get involved
  • taking patients out, if they’re well enough

4. Salary

Starter: £15,250 to £18,000

Experienced: £19,500 (assistant practitioner)

Highly Experienced: £15,250 to £19,500

You might be employed on a temporary contract by a private agency, where you’ll be paid hourly. Wages can be between £7.60 and £12.00 an hour depending on your experience.

Extra allowances may be paid for working nights, weekends and bank holidays.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work around 37.5 hours a week on a shift or rota system. This will include nights, bank holidays and weekends.

You may be based in the community, travelling between patients’ homes. You’ll need a driving licence and access to a car. 

You might also work in a hospital or hospice.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and training, you could become a senior healthcare assistant.

You could train as an assistant practitioner in chiropody or podiatry, occupational therapy, radiography or physiotherapy. 

You could also train as a health professional like a nurse, midwife or physiotherapist.

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Last updated: 13 September 2017