Chris joined the charity back in 1993 as a hospice at home nurse and spent 20 years working as a nurse therapist caring for patients in their own homes. On retiring from nursing in November 2012, Chris decided to continue with the complementary therapy aspect of her role by joining the volunteer complementary therapy team.
“I am really passionate about the importance of offering complementary therapy to our patients and carers. Having seen first-hand over a period of many years the real benefits that complementary therapy has and how well it works with orthodox medicine and treatments, I am really committed to ensuring that this service continues.
“Over the years I have seen so many benefits including how massage can sometimes help people reduce the use of diuretics, how therapies can help reduce anxieties and how it can help sleep and general mood and sense of wellbeing. The touch and care provided during a therapy really seems to help whether we are treating a patient or a family member.
“As a complementary therapist, I offer aromatherapy massage, reflexology, indian head massage and ordinary massage to patients and family members in their own homes. Which therapy is offered is tailored to the needs of each patient or carer and these are assessed during the first visit. We have a certain amount of paperwork to complete on a first visit before we are able to carry out a therapy, so these visits are a bit longer. Subsequent visits are usually an hour.
“The frequency of visits is very dependent on the patient or family members’ circumstances. Usually I have about four people who I visit and that translates into about five or six hours of my time each week. The role is very flexible though and can be worked around whatever amount of time people can offer.
“Every new therapist is provided with training to prepare them for going into peoples’ homes and dealing with patients who are near the end-of-life and their families. We also always call the nursing administrators before a visit so that they can update us on the situation with the family and we are prepared for the visit. Equally, if we hear something during a visit that the nursing teams need to know, we will pass this on. The patients and families know that we do this.
“We have regular group supervision sessions where we get together as a team to discuss our caseloads and any problems and to catch up on news from the organisation. We also use these sessions to update our knowledge on education topics like moving and handling and infection control.
“My motivation for being a volunteer complementary therapist is my nursing background and the fact that I want to make a difference to someone whose life and health is being challenged. Complementary therapies can really improve quality of life and when you can see that you’ve made a difference, it’s incredibly rewarding. We can’t cure people but if we can make it better, even in the smallest way, we’ve achieved something.
“With the NHS under such pressure and as people live longer with multiple illnesses, encouraging people to manage their own health has to be the way forward, and complementary therapy has a big part to play in this.
“I would encourage other therapists to consider becoming a volunteer complementary therapist at Rennie Grove. I think it is a great way to expand your experience and enhance your career as well as being personally rewarding. It’s a win-win situation!”
You can find out more about our recruitment campaign and how to join us here