New Year Challenges.


Abbigail Langstone- Wring. BSc  FETC  MAR FHT MCThA.

The start of a new year can be the perfect opportunity to reflect and assess what changes might be necessary to help many of us face the challenges a new year might bring. Many readers will be aware that I have been a Weldmar Volunteer for the past 7 years. My skills as a Complementary Therapist specializing in Clinical Reflexology have been utilized as part of palliative community care. Through increased work commitments my availability as a  Weldmar volunteer has been latterly limited. To enable me to continue offering reflexology treatments to Weldmar patients and carers ( free of charge ) My thought was to supply a Sunday service. This service is not currently offered by Weldmar, so to ascertain if a need existed, it was discussed and agreed that I trial a Sunday morning reflexology service delivery at Joseph Weld Hospice.

The results of snap shot survey looking at the viability of a sustained volunteer Sunday service provision of Complementary Therapy, based on patient need and evaluated via patient feedback are as follows.

14 Clinical Foot Reflexology treatments ( max 30 mins ) were delivered on four consecutive Sunday mornings 10-12 am  29/10/17 – 12/11/17 to JWH patients. Information regarding percentage of hospice capacity met was unavailable.  Data collection was a simple Visual Analogue Scale ( VAS )  1-10 point numerical scale measuring patients’ interpretation of their stress levels Pre and Post reflexology treatment.

On clinical advice, all patients deemed appropriate were approached and offered access to the treatment. First name terms were used and verbal consent obtained with an explanation of reflexology before treatment began in accordance with JWH guidelines. Information concerning patient medical information unavailable. JWH hygiene, care and safety protocols were followed, professional code of conduct adhered to at all times.

Of the 14 treatments delivered 1 patient unable to complete the evaluation form. Results based on 13 pieces of useable data.                                                                                                                         

Data consisted 6 Male.  7 Female.       Age ranges     46-60 = 4        61-75 = 7        over 75 = 2

Range in drop of stress levels post CFR were measured between 1-10.

100%   indicated a drop in stress levels following CFR.   

11 of the 13 (84%) experienced a drop of  3 &  4 points.

100% would recommend this service to others.

Verbal feedback from patients was noted by the reflexologist, themed and the following a selection of their words used to describe their experience of the service.

Feel Relaxed.   Lovely.        Wonderful.         Feet Warm.          Sleepy.        Definitely Worked.     Soothing.        Enjoyed Treatment.     Planet Wonderful.       Feel Comfortable.

The findings suggest there is sufficient activity to conduct further study to support the expansion of the volunteer service to deliver a 7day Complementary Therapy service for  Weldmar/JWH in-house and community patients.

The NHS alongside other health care providers are moving towards operating a 7 day service. Experts believe this is the way forward to meet the predicted growth in demand especially in specialist sectors such as palliative and cancer care. Within this sector, the use of Complementary Therapy has become widely recognised as supportive to clinical care. Valued for it’s therapeutic and beneficial effects and it’s cost effectiveness, even more so when delivered by volunteers who are self-employed, experienced specialist therapists.

 Restructuring in organizations is inevitable and one could argue justified. However, within the caring professions decision making that creates change to service provision has proven to be accepted and most effective following consultation with the experienced professionals responsible for the delivery of that service. Whose priorities will focus on a willingness to listen to the patient and deliver the care they need when they need it. Unfortunately, too often leadership efforts to cut costs under the guise of organizational restructuring to ensure sustainability negatively impacts on service development. Ultimately, resulting in rationing quality service access to people at their time of greatest need whether in-house or the community.        It would be naive to ignore the financial implications of facilitating a 7day volunteer complementary therapy service. A practical cost effective suggestion might be to offer self-employed professional therapist volunteers a greater flexibility of commitment this might encourage existing therapists’ to remain and attract much needed new recruits. ©AW/