When I ask holistic therapists what they like most about their job, I get mixed answers. But the one thing that is common with most is that they find their job very rewarding. They like to help people and they get pleasure in knowing that they helped to improve the quality of another person’s life.
Some therapists are natural carers and good listeners. Some have to work at improving their skills and that’s good. We can never know enough and there’s always room for improvement. A holistic therapist has certain characteristics, (which you can read about here) many of which are important qualities to have when working with sick or vulnerable people. This is an area that many therapists are naturally drawn to while others may not feel so confident and choose to work within their comfort zone.
Following on from a post I published recently about holistic care of the elderly, Denise O’Connell kindly got in touch to share with us some advice and information about working in a care environment.
Denise from Co. Kilkenny is a qualified complementary therapist with over 15 years of clinical experience, mainly in the field of aromatherapy massage and reflexology. She is particularly drawn to pre and post natal care, cancer care and end of life care. Denise is the co-founder of Cois Nore Cancer Support Centre, which is affiliated with the Irish Cancer Society. She offers complementary therapies in two district hospitals in her locality – mainly hand massage, back massage and limited reflexology.
Being very much aware of the importance of maintaining skin integrity in older people, Denise takes great care by using her own homemade skin creams and balms, myskin.ie. Her products are certified, contain only natural ingredients, and they’re not tested on animals, an aspect which I am always in favour of.
The treatment times vary between 5-20 minutes per client. Cancer patients who receive treatments from Denise are funded through a local cancer support charity and non-cancer patients pay for the service themselves. To enhance her work Denise has done further education in clinical aromatherapy, courses in death and dying and palliative care.
Of course, working with the elderly does not necessarily mean that you will be dealing with death and dying, but as long as you work in this environment, there is an increased chance that someday you will find yourself faced with this prospect. If you feel drawn to working with the elderly or terminally ill patients, you would benefit greatly from doing some training around issues that carers deal with while tending to very sick patients. Open University offers distance learning courses in death and dying/palliative care. By doing a course such as this, you would learn how to deal with many issues that surround death. Your caring skills will be enhanced as you learn how to best deal with grief and bereavement.
The provision of complementary therapies is now quite often a part of individual care plans in many eldercare facilities. Find out if your local hospital, hospice, care home or retirement centre offers these therapies. You could pay them a visit and introduce yourself or simply drop in your CV. Bear in mind that in order to work in a care environment, you must have Garda vetting, a tax clearance certificate and suitable insurance cover.
Denise highly recommends ‘From the Heart Through the Hands: The Power of Touch in Caregiving’ by Dawn Nelson. This book offers invaluable advice and information to anyone wishing to improve their communication skills through touch. It explains how the power of practiced and skilled touch can benefit sick and elderly people.
Connect with Denise on her myskin.ie Facebook page and Twitter
Thank you very much Denise for getting in touch with We are Holistic. You are always welcome to stop by and share with us any advice and inspiration that will benefit therapists in all areas of the profession.