Page content

Lay Abstract

Most of the last year of a person’s life is spent at home with some care being delivered during out of normal working hour’s periods such as, evenings, night time and weekends.

Out of hours palliative care in the home can be delivered by health care professionals including doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants.  Healthcare assistants deliver most of the bedside patient care by helping qualified nurses.

They are not required to be trained to any national standard and are usually only provided with informal job-related training.

Research suggests that healthcare assistants support family members, provide most of the personal care to patients in the home and play a key role in delivering care to the dying.

However, their role and influence on the delivery of out of hour’s palliative care is unknown but may help a patient remain at home.


The research will be undertaken in four distinct but related phases.

  • Phase 1

    We will look at what has already been published to find out what is known about the healthcare assistant’s role in out of hours community palliative care and what gaps in knowledge exist.

  • Phase 2

    A survey, based on phase one findings, to identify how healthcare assistants are employed across UK hospices will be undertaken.

    This will look at out of hour’s community service provision and the assistant role, describing the numbers, types and training nationally as well as describing the organisational guidelines.

  • Phase 3

    Case studies across several hospices in the UK, will explore the experiences of the health care assistants and the impact of their role in the out of hours period that help patients stay in their home.

    This will involve analysis of out of hour hospice service documents and interviews with members of the out of hours care team (such as healthcare assistants, specialist palliative care nurses, district nurses and general practitioners) patients and caregivers and managers of the service.

    Documents, transcriptions, and notes from the interviews will be analysed to identify themes.

  • Phase 4

    Findings from across the three phases will be analysed and two workshops will be held with key stakeholders to consider how the research findings can inform policy recommendations about the role healthcare assistants in the delivery of out of hour’s palliative care.

Publications to Date

Duration of Project

  • 30 months

Funding body

  • Funder: Marie Curie Research Grant

Members of the project

Members of the Project

Dr Felicity Hasson

Senior Lecturer

Principle Investigator

Professor Sonja McIlfatrick

Head of School and Professor of Nursing and Palliative care


Professor Sheila Payne

Emeritus Chair at the International Observatory on End of Life Care
Division of Health Research
Lancaster University


Dr Paul Slater

Lecturer in Statistics


Dr Anne Fee

Research Associate


Dr Tracey McConnell

Senior Research Fellow
Marie Curie Hospice Belfast


Dori-Anne Finlay

PPI Representative

PPI Investigator

Dr Christine Shannon Research Associate

Ensuring proactive efficient and effective out of hours palliative care provision: examining the role, contribution and impact of the HCA