Anne Clarke was inspired to become a Rennie Grove volunteer complementary therapist after meeting a lady on a sports massage course who began to use Rennie Grove’s Day Services at Grove House in St Albans.
“We ended up being really good friends. During the course of training she found out that she had breast cancer and started to use the services at Grove House. She spoke about Rennie Grove Hospice Care and the day services they offered. I wanted to know more so I made contact with Rennie Grove and met with members of the team.
“The moment I walked through the doors of Grove House back in 2013 I knew it was where I wanted to be and that becoming a volunteer was what I wanted to do. It felt welcoming, safe and full of care and love.
“As a complementary therapist I work closely with the nursing staff and other volunteers - we’re a team. Who I see is primarily led by who the nurses feel would benefit from a massage.
“Everything I do is mindful of the individual’s condition. When I first meet a patient I complete a small assessment form asking basic questions to get a sense of where they are at on that day and how they are feeling within themselves.
“If I have any concern about a patient I will always talk to the nurses. Coming to see me is not a counselling session and patients understand that. It’s their time to close their eyes, relax or have a conversation with me. Whichever is most comfortable for them.
“With trained, safe hands massage is a wonderful thing to be able to offer to people. People may not necessarily be experiencing pain but might be feeling low or alone. A massage helps all of that holistically in a gentle way.
“I try to create a very calm and gentle space in the room I work in. I sometimes carry out Reiki, an ancient Japanese therapy to balance natural energy flow, combined with gentle music, massage oil, aromatherapy oils in a diffuser and fluffy white towels to create a non-medical experience in a medical setting.
Day Hospice patient John enjoys looking across the peaceful Grove House garden during his sessions with Anne.
John said: “My mobility isn’t brilliant, I’ve got a left sided weakness in my foot which Anne massages when I see her. I can chat to Anne about anything, she makes me feel really relaxed and at ease. Anne is wonderful.”
Paddy also sees Anne regularly. He has a respiratory condition which means he’s not as active as he used to be. Because of this Paddy struggles to take part in the group’s exercise class on a Friday so usually uses this time to see Anne.
Paddy said: “When I’m at home all I do is sit in a chair and read a book or watch television. The relief from the tension that builds up in my shoulders as she massages is amazing. You don’t know how bad it is until you’ve had a massage and then you feel better. I used to get massages regularly when I was working but would struggle to now as I’m classed as housebound so I’m grateful to be offered it here.”
Anne feels a great sense of gratification when volunteering at Grove House and urges other people to consider being part of the volunteering team.
“If you want to be a complementary therapist in this kind of setting you have to be mindful. Sometimes people come to my room because they need support and I will direct them to the nurses and perhaps mention other services that are available but sometimes people just want time to relax and I’m very happy to be there for them”.
“To anyone who is considering becoming a volunteer complementary therapist at Rennie Grove I would highlight the induction process. I had an interview then an induction which included shadowing other volunteers. All the volunteers are amazing as nothing is too much trouble for anyone. The whole process was done so professionally.
Now I meet regularly with my line manager who’s great and she keeps me in the loop of what’s going on so I feel like I’m part of the team. There’s support for us from everyone.
“It’s remarkable what goes on at Grove House, it’s a wonderful place to be part of and see. For families, the peace of mind to know that your loved one is safe and being cared for is next to none.
“When I’m not volunteering on a Friday I look after my grand-daughter and work in my local library and volunteer as a school Governor. Being part of the volunteering team at Rennie Grove is important to me and I really value it.”
If you’d like to be a volunteer complementary therapist or look at other volunteer roles within Rennie Grove, please click here.