Palliative Care Assistant

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

As a palliative care assistant you could:

  • Apply simple wound dressings and give medication
  • Change medical equipment like catheters and make sure equipment is cleaned and stored correctly
  • Support the emotional wellbeing of a patient and their family
  • Care for the person’s body after death
  • Update patient records


You’ll need:

  • Knowledge of Psychology
  • To be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • Sensitivity and understanding
  • The ability to work well with others (teamwork)
  • The ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • Customer service skills
  • Excellent verbal communication skills

Restrictions and Requirements
You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks as you may work with children and vulnerable adults.

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Palliative Care Assistant, you don’t typically need specific GCSE subjects, but you do need certain skills, qualities, and a compassionate attitude. Palliative care focuses on providing comfort, support, and quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses. Here are some GCSE subjects that can help you develop skills and knowledge relevant to this role:

  1. Biology: This subject can provide you with a basic understanding of human anatomy and physiology, which is useful when caring for patients with complex medical conditions.
  2. Health and Social Care: If your school offers a GCSE in Health and Social Care, taking this course can give you insights into the healthcare system, patient care, and the role of healthcare professionals.
  3. Psychology: Understanding human behavior and emotions can be valuable when working with patients and families dealing with serious illnesses.
  4. English Language: Strong communication skills are essential in palliative care, as you’ll be providing emotional support and helping patients and families make difficult decisions.
  5. Mathematics: Basic math skills are necessary for tasks such as measuring medications, monitoring vital signs, and calculating dosages.
  6. Religious Studies or Ethics: Palliative care often involves addressing spiritual and ethical considerations, so courses in these subjects can provide insights into these aspects of patient care.
  7. Personal and Social Education (PSE): This subject can cover various life skills, including interpersonal skills, which are essential when providing emotional support and working in a team.

Remember that formal qualifications are not the only requirements for a role as a Palliative Care Assistant. Compassion, empathy, patience, and the ability to work well with patients and their families are equally important.

Post School
You can get into this job through:

  • A college course
  • An apprenticeship
  • Applying directly

You could do a college course to learn some of the skills you’ll need as a palliative care assistant.

You could do a higher certificate Diploma in Healthcare Support.


  • You could do a Healthcare Support Worker Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship which usually takes one year to complete.
  • You could also do the Lead Adult Care Worker Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship which usually takes a year and 6 months to complete.

As an apprentice, you’ll do training on the job and spend time at a college or training provider.

Direct Application
You could apply directly to become a palliative care assistant.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 41-43 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays.

You could work in a government or private hospital, at a hospice, at an adult care home or at a client’s home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and training, you could

  • Become a senior healthcare assistant.
  • Take additional training and move into other healthcare roles like:
  • Occupational therapy support worker
  • Physiotherapy assistant
  • Podiatry assistant
  • Radiography assistant
  • Train as a health professional like a midwife, nurse or physiotherapist.