Clinical Reflexology for Radiotherapy Patients at Dorset County Hospital

A Clinical Reflexology  (CR) Service was introduced to Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust DCHFT cancer patients in 2014 the aim being to enhance the cancer patient experience. Funded by Fortuneswell Cancer Trust the service is managed and delivered by self-employed Complementary Practitioner and Clinical Reflexologist Abbigail Langstone-Wring BSc FETC DHom  MFHT MAR MCThA. The service has grown in response to demand and now operates Mon-Fri with the team of Abbigail, Lorna Spicer and Jane Cruickshank at 3 clinical sites within DCHFT including the Robert White Radiotherapy Centre. Patients attending DCHFT for cancer treatment can access the Clinical Reflexology CR service free of charge.

6,428 patients data has provided evidence of the deeply relaxing therapeutic and physically beneficial effects of CR. A recent NHS DCHFT Award Winning Clinical Audit of Clinical Reflexology Service Provision ( reg 4923) found that a trial of CR delivery from Aug-Dec 2019 to Robert White Radiotherapy patients provided 162 patient data. Radiotherapy patient feedback reported a drop in stress and anxiety levels and patient perceived levels of pain following CR treatment. These encouraging outcomes supported a recommendation that a regular and sustained CR service be    supplied to radiotherapy patients.

Due to Covid 19 the 2020 CR service was interrupted. Impact from the suspension and re-instatement of CR service to radiotherapy patients was represented in the annual Fortuneswell Cancer Trust Report. Showing Radiotherapy patient up-take data from Jan-Oct 2020 was 248 the greatest number of which were Male patients. The team has found that male patients are often reluctant to try complementary therapy. However, once they have given CR a try they are wholly converted and often ask if we can fit them in for more sessions. They report that not only does it relax them before their radiotherapy the effect on their often neglected feet is wonderful……… feeling like walking on clouds !

It is worth mentioning that female breast cancer patients have reported that their range of arm mobility following surgical procedures increased following CR. This has made it easier and less painful for them to place their arms in what often is very uncomfortable positions necessary in order radiotherapy take place. 

CR is always delivered prior to radiotherapy. The appointment system, integration of protocols and specific procedures are collaboratively managed between Robert White clinical staff and the CR team. There has been a substantial increase in RW patient requests for appointed CR treatments in the first quarter of 2021 from April 12th – July 30th. With 191 having received or booked for CR treatment increasing pressure on our service. Not wanting to turn patients away we have been operating for up to 6 1/2 hrs per day to meet patient demand and staff referrals including appointed radiotherapy patients. Staff began noticing positive changes in the radiotherapy patients that received CR. So intrigued were they that a request was made for the team to provide a taster session of CR for the staff. As therapists the CR team are very aware of the physical and mental toll recent work pressures have had on our NHS colleagues and were only too happy to oblige. The attached photo shows a radiographer from the Robert White Centre receiving CR from Abbigail. The staff were amazed at the effects they experienced. Asking that we repeat the event, and of course we will!!!!!!