From saving lives to supporting people at the end of life

Categories: Care.

A former Cambridgeshire paramedic is sharing her career-changing experience in the hope more people will understand what it is really like to support people at the end of life.

Jo Barlow, 37 from Bourne, joined Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice from East of England Ambulance Trust earlier this year and says it is one of the best moves she has ever made.

“Working in emergency and acute care environments and seeing how palliative care was delivered made me realise palliative care was where I wanted to be,” she says.

“Paramedic practice has changed a lot in the past few years. It has moved away from emergency to dealing more with urgent care and alternative pathways looking at supporting people at home.”

“Sometimes I miss being out on the road but I have found my new home here at Sue Ryder.”

Family and friends have all been supportive of the move to become the hospice’s Discharge and Admissions Coordinator, Jo says. “My family have always been very supportive. My mum would laugh at the amount of things I have done!”

Already the qualified paramedic with BSC Honours from London Greenwich University says she can see too many people have the wrong idea about what palliative care is about.

“I have definitely already learned that a lot of people have the wrong perceptions about palliative care. People assume hospices are places you go to die, when actually they provide supportive care and symptom management and they help people to learn to live with their condition – not die with it. I think palliative care is all about supporting people to live.

“People automatically assume working in palliative care is going to be morbid but I tell them we bring a lot of peace and comfort.”

The move into palliative care is something Jo has wanted to take for some time, but says the opportunities were not always available until now.

“I have always had a very strong passion and interest in palliative care and it is something I have wanted to move into in a very long time, but it is a career move not always open to paramedics,” she says.

“A lot of palliative care roles are directed towards being a Registered Nurse and unfortunately that has caused barriers. Luckily, Sue Ryder has opened up vacancies for paramedics and I quickly jumped in.”

Paramedics have a lot of transferrable skills to bring into palliative care, says Jo, so she hopes more will follow into the profession.

“There have been so many skills and qualities I have been able to bring over. We are used to doing holistic assessments, we have strong communications skills and we are used to dealing with difficult situations.”

There is also plenty of support available from Sue Ryder to make the move too, Jo says.

“Joining Sue Ryder has lived up to my expectations of what I thought the role and care should be. I have received an amazingly warm welcome too from the great team here.

“It has been a really easy transition because of my passion and my desire to work in this area. I have also been given the opportunity to spend time with others in the team I felt would be beneficial to help my transition into my new role.”

Jo hopes to gain more knowledge and skills too.

“The holistic assessments, mobilisation and wound care skills are more in depth in palliative care than in paramedic care. There is also much more vast range of medications compared to what I have dealt with in the past too. I am also learning about syringe drivers and I am going to receiving further training on wound care, medicine administration and cathertisation too.”

For anyone looking to shift gear from being a paramedic into other healthcare roles Jo says people should really take a look at what is offered by palliative care.

“What I love most about working in palliative care is that we are able to give holistic patient centred care. We are so privileged to be able to give that there.

“I would say if you have an interest or a passion in palliative care come here and give it a go I would not look back at the change I have made. It has been a brilliant move for me.”

Sue Ryder’s Palliative Paramedic positions are brand new roles created to ensure the charity can deliver on its aim of providing more care to more people. Working as a part of the multi-professional team, paramedics joining the charity will join senior registered nurses in leading healthcare teams as well as providing hands on clinical care using their acquired skills, knowledge and professional experiences to ensure Sue Ryder patients and their families are well supported at a time it matters.

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is currently recruiting for a Palliative Care Paramedic. For more information visit the Sue Ryder website.

The charity also has a number of exciting roles across its hospice at home and inpatient unit teams for nursing assistant and registered nurses. For more information careers in palliative care with Sue Ryder visit



About Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

  • Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is the only specialist palliative care inpatient unit in Peterborough.
  • We provide expert palliative care and support for people who are living with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families.
  • Our multi-disciplinary team includes doctors, nurses, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, complementary therapy, bereavement counsellors, and psychological and spiritual support.
  • We also offer a variety of other services, including aHospice at Home service for people who prefer to receive palliative care at home, family and bereavement support, complementary therapies and spiritual care.
  • Our staff and volunteers provide people with the compassion and expert care they need, to help them live the best life they can.


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