Saint Francis Hospice therapists teaching patients self-care techniques

Klaire Craven with a bespoke aromatherapy blend and information for patients. She says she misses th

Klaire Craven with a bespoke aromatherapy blend and information for patients. She says she misses the face-to-face contact. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice - Credit: Archant

In the third of a weekly column from Saint Francis Hospice, complementary therapist Klaire Craven explains how her team are managing when they can’t touch patients

Generally, our patients get a lot of comfort and relief from the therapeutic touch that we offer within our complementary therapy appointments.

However, the fact that we provide an opportunity for them to talk and to be listened to shouldn’t be underestimated.

During these difficult times where physical contact is not appropriate, we are still able to continue to provide support via regular telephone contact.

This gives us the opportunity to understand the complex and varied issues our patients are facing and allows us to respond with prescriptive aromatherapy blends and individualised therapy care plans.

I don’t think anyone really likes change - and this pandemic means we had to adapt our services a great deal. But this has actually given us the time to create some self-help resources that will be of huge benefit to our patients going forward.

We have been able to provide short lessons and instructional handouts on: how to give a simple massage to aid relaxation, how to use certain acupressure points on the hand to improve issues such as pain, nausea, or constipation and tips on mindfulness to help with anxiety and low mood. (All very common symptoms within palliative care).

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I am very lucky to have amazing colleagues within our Therapies Team, who have provided self-help sheets on breathlessness and fatigue management as well as gentle movements and exercises to help with mobility.

Going forward, when things return to a new “normal,” I would like to encourage patients and their carers to utilise these self-care techniques to help manage their symptoms in between their scheduled complementary therapy appointments with us.

Sometimes, the ability to make choices and also engage in some self-care can be really empowering for our patients, enabling them to have more control over their symptoms and improving their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Personally, I am finding it hard to not be able to provide the hands-on therapy – I definitely miss the face to face interaction with my patients. The therapeutic relationship that is built up between therapist and patient is so important and it is vital that during unprecedented times like this, that relationship is maintained - and that’s where the therapy packs have been so useful.

The feedback so far from our patients is that despite missing their therapy appointments, they still feel supported. This is great news as it is really important to us that our patients feel that they are valued and not alone. To make a donation to our Urgent Appeal visit