Renate's story: Supporting patients and their loved ones through complementary therapy

This week is Hospice Care Week, a chance to celebrate the vital work hospices are doing up and down the country to ensure that everyone can benefit from the very best care when it is needed most. This year’s theme is ‘We are hospice care’, and over the week, we’ll be shining a light on some of the people who make St John’s what it is and sharing their stories. First up is Renate, one of our brilliant complementary therapists, who has been supporting patients and their loved ones at St John’s for over 18 years.

I work as part of a team of five therapists who help to support patients and their loved ones through a range of complementary therapies such as reflexology, massage, acupuncture, and reiki. These therapies can have a wide range of benefits, both physically and mentally.

Besides the physical benefits such as tension disappearing, pain being alleviated, or sleep improvement, these therapies can offer quite a profound spiritual experience. There is also, of course, the physical touch, which can help to release anxiety, grief, and a whole range of emotions. It's a beautiful way to interact with people.

Often, patients will also open up and talk to me about something they've never spoken to anyone else about before. Perhaps they don’t want to trouble a family member, they don't have any family, or they don't want to burden one of the clinical team.

“I have been working at St John’s for over 18 years. It’s a long time to work somewhere but I think that speaks volumes about the hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience of being part of the St John’s community.”

Renate, Complementary Therapist.

We encourage family members and carers to access our services too. They're supporting their loved one through a tremendously difficult time and you can't disregard the emotional and physical impact that can also have on them. They're potentially going to lose them, or they're trying to support them through potentially distressing symptoms. So often they're exhausted or anxious and that can have implications on their work and their other relationships. We are in an incredibly privileged position where we can help to alleviate some of that.

We also extend our services to bereaved family members and carers and this very much helps to keep that connection to St John's. It’s quite special when I have been able to form a relationship with a patient and then I get to support see their partner, carer or child, whoever it is, and offer them a space where they can talk about their loved one. In this scenario, they will know that you've met them and that can offer a great deal of comfort and make the experience very poignant for them. Like with our patients, the treatment can provide a real emotional outlet, a safe space to talk and share their feelings and that is hugely important in bereavement.

For me, this job is about connection and its hugely gratifying knowing that you are making a real difference for someone.

We are incredibly grateful to have Renate as part of our St John's community and thank her for all that she does to support patients and their loved ones across North London. This Hospice Care Week, you can help us to continue being there for everyone who needs us across North London by donating here.

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