Based here at the Hospice, our volunteer Complementary therapists are integral members of the Hospice team. Working alongside the medical team they are trained professionals, experienced in palliative care and offering a range of treatments, including Massage, Reflexology and Aromatherapy. The treatments take into account a patient’s mobility, and can be given at the bedside or in one of the specially adapted treatment rooms. Here we chat to Dawn, who has volunteered at the Hospice for 6 years.
How did you get involved with Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice?
My mother was looked after at the Hospice; she had wonderful treatment here, including respite care. As soon as I passed my Holistic course in 2007, I saw that they needed volunteers and I applied. It was one of the most nerve racking interviews I have ever had because it was so important to me. This is my way of giving back.
How do you think your role helps people?
It gives them an opportunity to relax; it’s a little bit of ‘me’ time and you often find people open up to you as they are in a safe space. If I can, I try to get patients away from the bed and into the
treatment room as it’s a change of scenery and a chance to get away from the ward. I often make patients incense sticks to take away following their treatment, so that the benefits are with them afterwards.
What does your average shift involve?
When I arrive I always go to the office first. I will have a treatment plan of potential patients waiting for me. I then get a briefing from the team on any new patients, advising on what treatments the medical staff think is best on that day and any current medical issues. If I have time, I offer carers treatments; as a carer myself I understand how important it is to look after yourself too. I then see potential patients and, depending on their mobility, I will take them to my lovely treatment room or do the treatment at their bed. After spending a day doing treatments, I go to the computer and put my notes on to the system.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering in the Complementary Therapy service?
I love giving treatments, and some people’s responses are so moving – someone once said to me ‘you give me a piece of heaven’ and I recently helped a patient regain feeling in his feet after a massage to improve circulation. You get to help patients in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally; I would love to bottle the feeling it gives me.
What support do you receive in doing your role?
We have a fantastic team here; they are flexible around my paid job and family commitments. We have regular team meetings to talk through any issues and to keep us up to date with what’s happening in the team. I also enjoy the social aspect and getting involved in other fundraising events.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering for the Hospice?
Don’t hesitate, just do it. It gives you the most wonderful feeling. The support and the staff are so lovely and there are so many different volunteering opportunities to get involved with. Support your local hospice!