Complementary Therapy and Wellbeing Services

Complementary Therapies

We have a dedicated Wellbeing and Complementary Therapy Team at St Christopher’s that offer a range of services at both our Sydenham and Caritas site in Orpington.

Wellbeing services

Wellbeing services provided at St Christopher’s include:

Namaste is run as a group service in our Lavender Room. We offer Namaste Care for patients on our in-patient unit twice a week. We also offer an outpatient Namaste service to individuals with dementia once a week.

This is a two-hour session, where you can relax in a sensory space, meet other people and receive Complementary Therapy and spa services.

Six sessions of pampering are offered on an individual basis in our private treatment rooms, we have a dedicated Wellbeing treatment room at our Sydenham site. With sensory lighting, this space offers you the perfect opportunity to relax while you receive a facial, hand massage, nail painting or foot moisturisation.

We offer nail cutting to individuals that can come in to St Christopher’s at both our Sydenham and Caritas site in Orpington. Please note, we do not offer nail cutting to individuals with diabetes, please speak to your GP if you require a nail cutting service and you are diabetic.

With both bath and shower facilities, we offer a bathing service to individuals that are unable to do so at home or do not have access to these facilities at home. We offer bathing and showering at our Sydenham site only.

We also run therapeutic groups at our Sydenham site, including five-week courses for:

  • Individuals living with a progressive neurological condition, you can view the programme here
  • Individuals with dementia, with a focus on training in communication between an individual with dementia and their carer or loved one

Complementary Therapy

Complementary Therapies are used alongside conventional medical practices, they are traditionally natural practices that often involve therapeutic touch. At St Christopher’s, Complementary Therapies are offered as part of a care plan to individuals where there is a therapeutic need, normally to aid the management of symptoms, both physical and emotional.

Complementary Therapies may help:

  • Reduce insomnia and promote a restful night’s sleep
  • Ease side effects of medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy e.g. peripheral neuropathy, fatigue and nausea
  • Ease some symptoms caused by illness e.g. constipation, lymphoedema, headaches and migraine, pain, sinus congestion
  • Promote relaxation and provide emotional support
  • Alleviate anxiety and depression
  • Regulate nervous system

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is the practice of inserting fine needles, just under the surface of the skin, at certain points of the body with the intention of alleviating any number of symptoms. Our expertly trained Acupuncturist will tailor each treatment to the individual.

We also provide auricular (ear) acupuncture – fine needles are placed into different points on the ear, with the intention of having an effect on different areas of the body.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils, either:

  • Through the use of an inhalation, be that on a cotton pad, aromastick or to add to a diffuser
  • In a blend for the Therapist to massage into the skin during a treatment
  • In a blend to be used by the individual at home

Essential oils are obtained through aromatic plants and each essential oil has specific therapeutic actions. The Complementary Therapist will create a blend based on an individual’s needs.

Please note, essential oils are never to be ingested or taken orally, there has been an increase in certain brands promoting drinking or ingesting oils and we would like to reiterate that this is not safe practice and would never suggest this to anyone. Neither should essential oils be placed on to the skin without diluting with a carrier oil first. It is always advisable to speak to a trained Aromatherapist prior to using essential oils at home.

Massage Therapy is the use of therapeutic touch to specific areas of the body, either on skin or through clothes, depending on the preference of the individual. In addition to general holistic and therapeutic massage, we also provide specialised techniques, such as:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Scar Work
  • Myofascial Release

There is a large body of evidence, which emphasises the importance of touch and benefit of massage to wellbeing. We have provided this video on hand massage to demonstrate how it can be carried out on a loved one, should you wish to do so at home.

Reflexology is most commonly performed on the feet, but can also be offered on the hands or face. It is based on the concept that the body is mapped on either the feet, hands or face. Therapists use light pressure and reflexes of the feet are either stimulated or sedated, using different techniques, to promote relaxation and possibly ease a number of symptoms. We also provide specialised reflexology techniques, such as:

  • Reflexology Lymph Drainage

Therapeutic Touch is a very  gentle treatment whereby the Complementary Therapist places hands on different areas of the body.

The individual receiving the treatment may feel warmth coming from the hands of the Therapist.

Therapeutic Touch is a soothing treatment that can promote relaxation, stress reduction, pain reduction, improved sleep and an improved sense of wellbeing.

Accessing Complementary Therapy

Treatments are offered to patients and carers where there is a therapeutic need. Please talk to your nurse or key worker if you think you might benefit from a course of treatments.

To ensure the best possible treatment outcomes, we advise to keep weekly sessions if possible. However, we understand that this is not always possible.

We provide sessions at both our sites in Sydenham and Orpington in one of our private treatment rooms, as well as on the inpatient unit at Sydenham. For housebound people, treatments are offered in your own home.

Individual sessions are normally offered as part of your care plan and consist of a plan of either four or six regular sessions.

Treatments will last from 30 to 45 minutes. As part of treatment we will discuss different self-care tips and what can be done at home to maximise the benefits of the treatment. This may include activities, such as this short guided relaxation exercise.

Contact information

The Complementary Therapy Department can be contacted Monday-Friday between 8:30am and 5pm on 0208 768 4559.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to discuss my appointment with the Hospice?

If you have an appointment and you need to cancel or postpone, please call the Complementary Therapy Department on 0208 768 4559 as soon as possible.

Can I receive Complementary Therapy if I am an inpatient at St Christopher’s?

If you are admitted to St Christopher’s, please let your nursing team know on the ward that you would like to receive Complementary Therapy, they will submit a referral to us. One of our Therapists will come and see you in your room to provide you with a treatment. If you are an inpatient at St Christopher’s Hospice, you may also be interested in our Namaste Service.

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