Living with a child who has a life-limiting condition can be isolating and lonely, feelings which are only intensified during the current pandemic. With many families currently shielding and bereaved families facing grief, it’s never been more important that we’re able to offer our expertise and support to provide solace and advice to families during the most difficult of times.

Caroline, our Complementary Therapist explains more about the support our Complementary Therapies Service is providing remotely to help improve the wellbeing of parents, supported children and siblings.

“The support I provide can take several forms depending on the needs and circumstances of the supported child or family member. Firstly, I will have a phone or Zoom consultation to determine how I can best help. This also gives me an opportunity to do a general check-in with the family and make any referrals to the rest of the team that are necessary, such as to adult counselling or creative therapy for supported children and siblings.

“Following our discussion, I might make an ‘Aroma Stick’ using a tailored blend of essential oils to assist with a range of concerns such as anxiety, stress, panic attacks, sleep problems or headaches. I will accompany the Aroma Stick with breathing and relaxation tips and advice. Alternatively, I might blend the essential oils into a cream for self-massage, again with advice on how to use it. If there is a diffuser available, I may blend essential oils for diffusion which could be positioned in the bedroom or home office to provide a sense of calm where it’s most needed.

“I also use inhalation patches which are an effective way to provide a continuous delivery of essential oils during a whole day or night. They are attached to the upper chest and are pre-loaded with essential oils for various uses. Blank patches can also be supplied with a personal essential oil blend. All of these can be sent in the post and followed up where additional and / or ongoing support is needed.

“For relaxation I use various techniques. One example is called ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’ (PMR). This can be particularly helpful for those who deal with cumulative stressors – repeated stressful events – with no time for the body to return to normal in-between. It can teach the recipient to interrupt and de-escalate their stress response by guiding them in the repetitive release of muscle tension with controlled breathing. This technique works well over the phone while the recipient lies down or sits comfortably so is perfect at the moment when face to face sessions aren’t possible. With experience the recipient can learn to use it by themselves and may even find just five to ten minutes of PMR can be beneficial when that is all that their time or circumstances will allow.”

A bereaved mum shared how the guidance and support from Caroline has helped her cope with her feelings and apply techniques that can soothe and calm.

“Since losing my son I find it easy to get anxious and harder to relax. Caroline encouraged me to think about my working environment which is very stressful. So I purchased a steam diffuser and she has guided me to use uplifting aromatherapy oils which help me feel more nurtured and cared for while working.

“Caroline has taught me techniques to relax when I can’t sleep or use when I’m feeling stressed. It doesn’t take long to run through, but it makes me feel more able to sleep and face things. It sounds strange but just learning how to breathe and relax your muscles can help you to cope.

Caroline sent me some aromatherapy hand cream suited to my individual needs…when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I wash my hands, massage my hands gently with the hand cream then breathe in and out the holding my hands to my nose. This makes me take a moment to reconnect with myself and relax. I find this helpful and comforting. Those small moments can get you through a tough day.”

Find out more about how we are continuing to help support families with our Virtual Hospice and other virtual ways you can support us with an online donation or taking part in our Shooting Star Space Race.