Palliative care assistant

Specialist healthcare assistant

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

Salary range: £17,652 to £20,795

How to become a palliative care assistant

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 need for this job, like a Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information


You could train towards this role through:

  • a healthcare support worker intermediate apprenticeship
  • a lead adult care worker advanced apprenticeship

This will usually take 12 months to complete. You’ll do on-the-job training and spend time at a college or training provider.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information

Volunteering and experience

Experience, either paid or voluntary in a healthcare role, is usually expected by employers. You can contact the voluntary services co-ordinator or manager at your local NHS trust for more details.

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

Direct application

You may not need any formal qualifications to start work as a palliative care assistant, but GCSEs grades (A* to C) in English and maths may be useful in helping you to find a job.

Some employers may also want you to have a level 2 qualification in health and social care, like a certificate, diploma, GCSE or NVQ.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a palliative care assistant from Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • 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
  • customer service skills
  • knowledge of psychology
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in the community, in an NHS or private hospital or at a hospice.

You may need to wear a uniform.

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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