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Teaching palliative care principles to UK nursing home care assistants


Correspondence: ChrisDowding Senior Lecturer (Palliative Care), Institute of Health & Community Studies, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth House, Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3LG, UK.


This paper describes the initiatives that led to a study day for Health Care Assistants in the UK, focusing on the principles and practice of palliative care for practitioners. Topics covered were ‘What is palliative care?’, ‘How can you help patients with pain’, ‘Needs of the dying patient’, ‘I don’t know what to say’, ‘Answering awkward questions’, and ‘Ways of relieving distressing symptoms’. Participants valued the study day and feedback showed that the Health Care Assistants, essentially assistants to qualified nursing staff with minimal or no training themselves, had many vocational and emotional needs that were not being met.