Background Complementary therapy is highly valued by palliative care patients (Armstrong, Kupeli, Flemming, et al., 2020. Palliat Med. 34:1332; Zeng, Wang, Ward et al., 2018 J Pain Symptom Manage. 56: 781). Suspended services in April 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions highlighted our reliance on in-person therapies, with no alternatives for patient care. When services resumed in February 2022, we took the opportunity to reimagine our offering.
Aims To design services that could run both in-person and online. To define a wellbeing pathway that included in-person therapy, plus a wider variety of self-empowerment education. To offer more relaxation and mindfulness techniques (Proud, 2017. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 7:A55) that could be practised at home and did not depend on in-person therapy.
Methods In February to April 2022 a roll-out of services took place. Firstly, the reinstatement of in-person therapies, secondly the offering of online weekly relaxation sessions and in-person meditation sessions. From feedback and discussions with users and staff, education sessions were developed covering identified areas of challenge. All the education sessions, group relaxation and meditation services can be carried out online.
Results There has been a great uptake of services with patients embracing all avenues available.
In-person therapies average 35 bookings per month.
Online relaxation sessions have opened a new avenue for patients who are shielding.
Education sessions are currently face-to-face but could be run online. All include techniques that can be carried out at home.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with 100% ‘Very Good’ ratings.
Conclusion The first phase of reopening complementary therapy services has been met with very positive feedback from our patients. Reimagining what we offer has expanded services and allowed more flexibility. Additional learning is that some patients actually prefer online sessions as they are easier to access and safer. These patients report the same high levels of positive feedback. We are planning to expand with music therapy (Gutgsell, Schluchter, Margevicius, et al., 2013. J Pain Symptom Manage. 45:822) and an online meditation and resources library.
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