Complementary therapies are beneficial to people with advanced cancer

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The article below was first published in International Therapist issue 129 (Summer 2019)

Aromatherapy, reflexology and massage can all benefit clients with advanced cancer, according to a review published in Palliative Medicine.

Searching medical databases, a team of researchers found five qualitative studies evaluating the therapeutic needs of people in palliative care with advanced cancer, which provide evidence of the benefits of therapies.

They examined three ‘analytical themes’: the patient experience during the therapy (enhanced wellbeing and escapism), beyond the complementary therapy session (lasting benefits and overall evaluation), and the delivery of complementary therapy in palliative care (value of therapist and delivery of the complementary therapy).

The results showed that people with advanced cancer experienced benefits from aromatherapy, reflexology and massage, including enhanced wellbeing, respite and escapism from their disease.

Access the review abstract at fht.org.uk/IT-129-cancer-therapies

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FHT contributes to September issue of Natural Health magazine

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We are delighted to have contributed an article to Natural Health magazine’s September issue, to promote the FHT, our members and the therapies they practice.

In the article, we look at the health benefits of juniper berries, examining its historic therapeutic use and how the essential oil produced from it has diuretic, detoxifying and decongestant properties.

In addition, we include an important safety note, that essential oils should not be ingested or applied to the skin undiluted.

Read the article

Patient reported outcome measures

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Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) are tools that can be used by therapists to capture information about the services they provide, from the perspective of the client.

There are a number of different types of PROMs but most are in the form of a simple questionnaire, which is completed during the consultation process and can help to monitor change between treatments. For example, the client might be asked to choose one or two current concerns they have, and then rate these on a scale of 0 to 6. Depending on the individual, this could be the level of pain they are experiencing, or something else that is affecting their health, wellbeing or quality of life.

By recording this data, therapists can assess the changes in clients over time or after a specific number of treatments. This can help to provide evidence that a treatment plan is having the desired effect or, conversely, indicate that it may not be the most appropriate course of action for the client’s presenting problem.

The 2019 FHT member survey showed that 15% of FHT members are already using PROMs to monitor client or patient progress. Many of these therapists work in hospices, hospitals and other healthcare settings, where PROMs are often used to evaluate a complementary therapy service and hopefully demonstrate its value to those accessing treatment.

Examples of PROMS that can be used by therapists include MYMOP, MYCAW and WEMWBS, as well as the more recently developed WHHQ.

As a long-standing corporate member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare (PGIH), the FHT is supportive of the recommendation in its recently published Integrated Health report that ‘Complementary, traditional and natural healthcare associations should take steps to educate and advise their members about the use of Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profiles (MYMOP), and patient outcome measures should be collated by an independent central resource to identify for what conditions patients are seeking treatment, and with what outcomes’.

At present, the Research Council for Complementary Medicine is in discussions with the PGIH regarding independently collating and analysing patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) data gathered from members of complementary therapy associations, including the FHT.

The FHT will keep its members updated of any progress in future communications and at the 2019 FHT Conference at The King’s Fund, London, this November (see below).

Learn more about patient reported outcome measures at the 2019 FHT Conference

Dr John Hughes will be providing an overview of patient reported outcome measures at this year’s FHT Conference, including different types of PROMs that are client and therapist-friendly, the contexts where these can be used, benefits and limitations of PROMs, and how the data can be used to evaluate treatments and further integrated healthcare.

John is director of research for the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, UCLH NHS Trust, and co-chair of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine (RCCM). He is also a visiting fellow within the Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, and works closely with the World Health Organisation on the subject of traditional medicine.

Find out more and book your tickets for the 2019 FHT Conference

Apathy is the forgotten symptom of dementia

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Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom of dementia, with a bigger impact on function than memory loss – yet it is under-researched and often forgotten in care.

A new study has found that apathy is present in nearly half of all people with dementia, with researchers finding it is often distinct from depression.

Although common, apathy is often ignored as it is less disruptive in settings such as care homes than symptoms like aggression.

Defined by a loss of interest and emotions, it is extremely distressing for families and it is linked with more severe dementia and worse clinical symptoms.

Now, research led by the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in LA has analysed 4,320 people with Alzheimer’s disease from 20 cohort studies, to look at the prevalence of apathy over time.

At the start of the study, 45% presented with apathy, and 20% had persistent apathy over time. Researchers found that a proportion had apathy without depression, which suggests that the symptom might have its own unique clinical and biological profile when compared to apathy with depression and depression only.

Dr Miguel de Silva Vasconcelos, of the University of Exeter and King’s College London, said: ‘Apathy is an under-researched and often ignored symptom of dementia. It can be overlooked because people with apathy seem less disruptive and less engaging, but it has a huge impact on the quality of life of people living with dementia, and their families. Where people withdraw from activities, it can accelerate cognitive decline and we know that there are higher mortality rates in people with apathy. It’s now time this symptom was recognised and prioritised in research and understanding.’

Professor Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: ‘Apathy is the forgotten symptom of dementia, yet it can have devastating consequences. Our research shows just how common apathy is in people with dementia, and we now need to understand it better so we can find effective new treatments. Our WHELD study to improve care home staff training through personalised care and social interaction included an exercise programme that improved apathy, so we know we can make a difference. This is a real opportunity for interventions that could significantly benefit thousands of people with dementia.’

Source

FHT writes about personal safety in Holistic Therapist Magazine

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We were delighted to recently contribute an article to Holistic Therapist Magazine.

In a one page feature in the July/August/September issue (31), The FHT’s Julie McFadden shared simple ways that therapists can protect their personal safety.

This includes tips on professionalism, blocking nuisance callers and feeling safe and secure when working from home or as a mobile therapist.

We regularly contribute to a number of industry publications to promote the FHT, its members and the therapies they practice.

We were also pleased to share details of the forthcoming 2019 FHT Conference with Holistic Therapist Magazine readers.

Read Julie’s article on personal safety