Saint Francis Hospice: ‘It’s sad patients can’t see our faces’

Big smiles as Sharon Williams massages a patient's feet before the corovirus pandemic meant she has

Big smiles as Sharon Williams massages a patient's feet before the corovirus pandemic meant she has to wear a mask and gloves. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice - Credit: Archant

Sharon Williams, complementary therapist at Saint Francis Hospice, Havering-atte-Bower, explains how her team have adapted to not being able to touch their patients

When the lockdown came into place and we realised that we were no longer able to treat our lovely patients hands-on, I was disappointed.

As a team, we started to think of ways we would still be able to support our patients and carers whilst ensuring we were not putting anyone including ourselves at risk.

As a team of complementary therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, we have many skills between us.

We had lengthy discussions about other ways we could help and came up with various information sheets that we could deliver along with the aromatherapy blends we put together to help with various symptoms. We then rang all the patients on our current home visit and OPA lists, waiting list and any new referrals.

After assessing each person individually, we tailored complementary therapy packs according to their needs and delivered them to patients.

We have since maintained fortnightly contact to assess and review each person to ensure that the blends were working for them and the information sheets had been helpful.

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This kept us all quite busy and we have enjoyed doing it.

All the patients and carers we spoke to appreciated what we were doing and also loved the fact that we were able to provide something.

Whilst all this has been going on, we have still been able to treat our patients on the ward.

Obviously, we have to wear PPE to ensure the safety of both the patients and ourselves.

This can be challenging as a lot of what we do is by touch and feel, so wearing gloves is not the same.

Patients, however, are completely understanding and still get benefit from receiving treatments such as massage and reflexology. The masks and goggles can make it difficult as when we are speaking the goggles steam up!

One patient actually said to me, “I know you are smiling by your eyes but the sad thing is I will never recognise your face.”

Although this was quite a sad statement, he understood the need for PPE and was very grateful for the treatment he received.

So although we have had to make many changes, I am pleased to say that we have been able to adapt to the current situation and fulfil our role as therapists.