Support work

Support workers assist nurses or allied health professionals such as occupational therapists and radiographers.


  • Dietetic support workers

    Dietetic support workers assist dietitians and help them carry out patient assessments and reviews.

    They may provide advice on:

    • diet and nutrition plans
    • using feeding tubes and pumps
    • patients’ dietary requirements (to nursing staff)
  • Maternity support workers

    Maternity support workers help care for mothers, their babies and families before, during and after childbirth.

    More information is available on the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC) website.

  • Nursing assistants

    Nursing assistants are an essential part of the healthcare team. On the wards, nursing auxiliaries take patients’ temperatures, pulse and respiration. They also help with washing, feeding and ensuring a patient’s overall comfort.

    The Department of Health website has more information on nursing assistant standards.

  • Occupational therapy support workers

    Occupational therapy support workers offer practical support to help people overcome problems with carrying out day-to-day activities.

  • Orthotic support workers

    Orthotic support workers work with orthotists to design, make and fit orthotic devices for patients. Orthoses are artificial or mechanical aids that provide support or assistance to a weakened part of the body. They can be made from titanium, thermoplastics, leather or carbon fibre.

    Orthotic support workers work with people of all ages who have a range of conditions including:

    • arthritis
    • stroke
    • cerebral palsy
    • spina bifida
    • scoliosis
  • Physiotherapy support workers

    Physiotherapy support workers help physiotherapists maintain, restore and improve patients’ function and movement.

  • Podiatry support workers

    Podiatry support workers are sometimes known as podiatry assistant practitioners or foot care assistants. They work with podiatrists to provide general foot treatments, assist minor surgeries and give advice to patients on foot and nail care.

  • Prosthetic support workers

    Prosthetic support workers work with prosthetists to design, make and fit artificial limbs for patients. Prostheses are used to substitute for or supplement missing limbs. Prostheses are made from a wide range of materials, such as special plastics, metals, leather and carbon fibre.

  • Radiography support workers

    Radiography support workers assist diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers. They help provide treatment and process digital images used to diagnose people who are ill.

  • Speech and language therapy support workers

    Speech and language therapy support workers help care for people with speech and communication difficulties and help those with eating, drinking and swallowing problems.

    Speech and language therapy support workers care for a range of people, including:

    • children
    • people with physical or learning disabilities
    • people with mental health problems
    • people recovering from illness or a medical condition
    • the elderly