COLUMNIST: Donna Pierpoint - Not all health care for the elderly costs the earth

Donna Pierpoint
Donna Pierpoint

Not all health care for the elderly costs the earth. In fact a recent study on the effects of weekly complimentary therapies provides some very encouraging results.

A pilot study funded by a South Lanarkshire based hospice provided very encouraging results – one that all care homes and carers of the elderly should take note of.

The hospice provided weekly complimentary therapies to eight residents in two local care homes.

The study recorded positive improvements in several key indicators including, agitation, mood, responsiveness, sleep pattern, anxiety and pain.

Therapies provided included aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and reki.

The residents all reacted positively to a combination of gentle touch, the use of relaxing music and the scent of essential oils. Some residents with dementia were visibly less distressed, would visibly relax and remain less agitated.

The therapies proved inexpensive in terms of materials required and number of staff needed. When this low cost of provision is considered against the number and extent of benefits achieved, serious consideration should be taken into regular provision of complimentary therapies in all care homes.

Here at Broomgrove we are lucky enough to already employ a full time, fully qualified, complimentary therapist. We are quite used to seeing the benefits of offering a wide range of therapies to our residents – ones that have varying physical and mental health conditions.

One recent success story was of a gentleman who came to us with multiple sclerosis. His legs were badly contracted, he suffered with painful spasms in his arms and he was becoming less able to use his hands. He received weekly massage treatments using an oil blend of lavender, eucalyptus and cypress essential oils mixed into sweet almond oil. After six weeks, there was visible improvement in his leg contractions, he suffered with less muscle spasms and the spasms he did have were less severe. He also felt an enormous improvement in his psychological wellbeing.

Essential oils have been used for years to treat many medical conditions. Lavender has known anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, Eucalyptus has anti rheumatic and decongestant properties and peppermint aids fatigue, depression and headaches.

At Broomgrove we specifically use essential oils in end of life care and its positive properties always offer peace and comfort at this time.

I hope the encouraging results of this study helps persuade all care homes to introduce complimentary therapies and provide positive benefits for residents.

For once, cost shouldn’t be a barrier.