Symptom Management Guide for Health Care Assistants

This guide can be used by Health Care Assistants* in all care settings, working within the scope of their role to support people living with advanced life limiting illness experiencing symptoms. (*Health Care Assistants (HCAs) includes all job titles such as Care Aide, Home Support Worker, Community Health Worker, LTC Aide, etc)

To all HCAs – this guide is for you! B.C. HCAs in BC have asked us for a tool that:

  • is made just for HCAs,
  • uses simple language and pictures that are respectful of what HCAs know,
  • can be posted on a wall,
  • can be folded to carry in their pocket,
  • matches the name of the symptom to what they see and hear,
  • gives ideas for what HCAs can do to help people feel better, and
  • has reminders of what to tell a nurse or other caregiver

The ideas for what you can do that may help are things that might be included in a care plan and can also be tried when you first notice a person is having a symptom. Always follow the person’s care plan and tell a nurse or other caregiver what you have seen, heard, and done to try and help.

Want to learn more about palliative care and practice symptom management?

There are 2 online modules that can be taken one at a time and take 15-30 minutes each.

They are part of a group of 8 short modules called Strengthen Your Core, which address each of the 8 domains of palliative care practice for learners of all disciplines.

Domain 1: Principles of Palliative Care and a Palliative Approach

Domain 4: Comfort and Quality of Life – this module has a “choose your own adventure”, engaging format, with a section specifically for HCAs.

BCCPC also provides a series of ECHO sessions, Flexing Your Core, which are 30-45 minute online sessions where healthcare providers and students of all disciplines can connect with each other and apply learnings from the modules to real-life examples. Watch this page for upcoming times and to register.


Thank you to all the HCAs and nurse educators who provided vital feedback during the development and refinement of this resource.

The first version of this guide (2021) was designed by Maya Bennett and Tiffany Varcoe Smith, UVIC nursing students led by Mar’yana Fisher, RN, BSN, MN . They conducted a literature review and focus groups with HCAs to create a resource that is relevant and applicable to HCA practice. Review and survey feedback of HCAs working in Island Health home care informed revisions for the final content.

The project team that finalized the content and design was led by Della Roberts and Kathleen Yue. The design and graphics were created by Hayley Eng.

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