Have you ever wondered what an oncology and palliative care physiotherapist does?
Whenever I tell people what I do I get either one of 2 reactions. Either “oh gosh that must be such a difficult job” or “wow that’s amazing I could never do a job like that it must be so sad”
So often people associate the words palliative care with end of life…but the way I see it is the complete opposite. For me it’s all about living well, being able to the things you want to do in the best possible way and being able to achieve all your dreams. To me palliative care doesn’t mean the last few days of life, it may be the last few years, the last few weeks or the last few days. This may surprise you but I have honestly known some patients for over 15 years as they are palliative but living well with cancer. No matter what there is always a moment to make a difference.
PhysioCare Holistics is all about living life well. Alongside running PhysioCare Holistics I continue to work part time at a local hospice. I thought it may be interesting to share what a typical day in my hospice job looks like.
Walking through the hospice doors in the morning is like walking into a magical place, full of smiles, fun and happiness. It is a home from home and I hear people say all the time it is nothing like they imagined.
Every morning I teach an exercise class in our wellbeing day centre. People attend both as outpatients or may come down from the ward if they are an inpatient. We call this class the energise class and patients absolutely love it. There is always something that everyone can manage and it is always fun. Keeping active has so many benefits – too many to list here but you can find them all on my website.
The rest of my day is spent treating patients both on the inpatient unit and as day patients in the well- being centre. So many people still associate hospice care with end of life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We always have a mix of inpatients who may be in for rehabilitation or symptom control too.
I may spend my time teaching someone how to walk better, how to be able to get out of bed and transfer to a chair as independently as possible, practicing walking outside in our gorgeous gardens, practicing car transfers so that relatives know the best and easiest way to take their loved one out somewhere, ordering equipment, teaching strategies to help cope with symptoms of breathlessness, anxiety and fatigue, and teaching exercise programmes to maintain strength, mobility and independence as well as a sense of wellbeing and doing something “normal”.
Talking is such a huge part of my work. Simply talking about things and chatting through ideas, perhaps discussing fears around end of life care, what to expect and planning for the future may all come into conversations if a person wants to talk about these things. I also incorporate holistic therapies into my physiotherapy sessions. Aromatherapy, reflexology and reiki are particularly effective to help manage symptoms, anxiety, promote relaxation and a feeling of improved well-being and boost immunity.
I also treat lots of ladies post mastectomy who may have developed tightness around the scar. This can affect shoulder movement and sometimes causes aches and pains. Specialist massage can help to relieve this tightness and improve joint range and mobility.
Each and every day is different in palliative care and I am constantly adapting my treatment plans and individualising them to whatever that person needs at the time. All my treatments are planned around a patient’s goals, it is all about what matters most to that person.
It is the MOST REWARDING job ever, and always such a privilege to be able to make a difference at this very special time in someone’s life.
The care provided by PhysioCare Holistics is the same as that described above but in the comfort of your own home.If you have any questions just let me know and if you feel PhysioCare Holistics may be able to help you or someone you know please get in touch.