THROUGHOUT the Covid-19 pandemic Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland’s top priority has been to maintain high-level nursing care for patients.

While our charity shops were forced to close their doors and other services were suspended or adapted, it was imperative that our palliative care teams were able to provide for those in need, supported by the Occupational Therapy team.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the charity’s Complementary Therapy team was unable to continue its work providing holistic therapies – massage, reflexology, breathing work and the relaxation therapy HEARTS – for patients, carers and the bereaved.

Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator Angela Fearnley-Allen said that while the service is hugely beneficial, it is not essential in the way that nursing is.

Angela was deployed back to the nursing team, having started her career with Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland as a registered nurse.

“I was really pleased to be able to go back onto the nursing team and help out,” she says. “The main priority for Hospice at Home was to keep the nursing team as strong as possible and not to disrupt it.

“Everybody was the same, more than willing to help out. It gives you a sense of fulfilment that you are able to do something to help.”

Angela says one of the hardest things working throughout the pandemic has been not being able to comfort patients and family members like normal, which goes against the natural instinct of those in care-giving roles.

“Complementary Therapy is very much hands-on and I use touch all the time. With the virus, even going in to do nursing you have got to keep it to a minimum,” she says.

“You are so used to just giving people a hug. Sometimes giving people a hug can be so beneficial.

“When you see someone is upset, you reach out to touch them and you can’t. Doing Complementary Therapy that is my natural instinct. It goes against everything you are so used to doing.”

Angela says that wearing masks is also difficult as patients can’t read facial expressions in the same way or see a comforting smile that would usually say so much, so it has been important to reassure them everything is okay.

It’s hoped that the Complementary Therapy team – made up of two other therapists and two volunteers who work alongside Angela in people’s homes and from two clinic rooms at the charity’s base in Dalston – can start providing their services in some capacity in the near future when it is safe to do so.

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