Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Team

On occasions some patients with complex symptoms require input from the Specialist Palliative Care Team in the Macmillan Unit.

Palliative Care Nurse Specialist

The palliative care nurse specialist is a nurse with advanced qualifications in symptom management within palliative care. They provide support, information and advice to medical and nursing teams for palliative care patients and their families within the hospital. Also, they liaise closely with services in the hospital and community to ensure the appropriate services are in place for discharge. They are based in Causeway and Antrim Area Hospitals.

Hospital Specialist Palliative Care Team Information leaflet

Palliative Medicine Consultants

Palliative medicine consultants are doctors with special training in palliative care and are an essential part of the Hospital Specialist Palliative Care Team and the Macmillan Unit Team. They meet regularly with the team to discuss patient care and can make arrangements to visit patients in hospital with complex needs or can visit palliative patients at home or at an outpatient appointment if necessary. The palliative medicine consultant also provides information, guidance and training for additional hospital and community staff to ensure each patient receives the highest standard of care from those involved in looking after them. They are based in Causeway Hospital and Macmillan Unit, Antrim Area Hospital site.

Macmillan Social Worker

Social workers are trained to support individuals and families during difficult times in their lives, including serious illness. They can help you identify areas you would like assistance with and look at choices/options available to you. Areas include practical issues (e.g. managing personal care, assistance with finances), emotional issues (e.g. dealing with the effects of illness on you, your family and your relationships), social issues (e.g. housing, keeping up your interests) and spiritual issues (e.g. your beliefs on life). Social workers assess, arrange and provide support and information themselves but also link with other staff and services to make sure you have the assistance you need.

Macmillan Physiotherapist

Physiotherapists can help palliative patients manage breathlessness and improve respiratory function; maintain optimum circulatory function; assess mobility and suggest the provision of mobility aids; reduce pain; optimise independence and function; increase confidence; educate families and carers and manage symptoms of lymphoedema.

Macmillan Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapy aims to help you with everyday activities e.g. getting dressed, managing the bath/stairs, leisure activities, getting out etc. The occupational therapist can look at what tasks you want or need to do and what makes this difficult for you. Intervention may include teaching new ways of doing activities, providing aids, equipment or adaptions, information and advice on managing symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and anxiety or referring to other professionals e.g. for practical support.


The palliative care dietitian is based in Antrim Area Hospital and covers the Macmillan Unit for three sessions per week. The dietitian carries out nutritional assessments, provides information about diet, helps patients and families make choices about food and assesses the need for nutritional supplements. Eating problems can be common in palliative patients and can include loss of appetite, swallowing, nausea, vomiting, constipation and weight loss. Dietary advice and support can help manage these problems.

Speech and Language Therapist

The speech and language therapist helps individuals and their family to manage any difficulties they may have with communication or swallowing and to maintain as much ease and independence in these areas as possible. To help with communication, the speech and language therapist may suggest exercises, advice about alternative ways of communicating, or a piece of equipment that will aid communication.


There is a palliative care pharmacist available five days per week who works with the Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Team to ensure the medications prescribed are done so in a safe and appropriate way for each individual patient. Their role includes determining the drug history on admission, preparing medications and prescriptions for discharge, liaising with the GP and/or community pharmacist to ensure continuity of care, counselling patients and/or their carers on medications, answering all medicine related queries from medical, nursing and other healthcare staff, and reviewing all prescriptions to make sure they are suitable for each individual patient (e.g. checking for drug interactions, changing the dose if kidney or liver function is impaired, using liquids, changing dosage regimens to suit patient needs etc.).


The chaplain is appointed to provide spiritual and religious care to all patients, visitors, staff and volunteers in the healthcare setting regardless of faith or of no faith. A chaplain can be ordained or lay with an acknowledged status within a mainstream Faith Community.

The Chaplaincy Service within the Macmillan Unit is provided through a service agreement with the Northern Ireland Hospice enabling two sessions a week of spiritual, pastoral and religious support to patients, relatives and staff in the Unit. The Quiet Room is provided to hold services as required and is available for quiet reflection.

Page last updated:03 December 2015