On Friday March 22nd Living Tree welcomed Liz Baines, Lead Nurse, Complementary Health Service (complementary and arts therapies)  at the Weldmar Hospicecare Trust. Unfortunately David Morton, assistant Director for central area of Weldmar was unable to attend but hopes to attend one of our meetings at a later date.

Liz started work in a gynaecological ward, and then trained as a District Nurse before joining the West Dorset Macmillan Service which after several incarnations, eventually became the Weldmar Trust.  Liz said she has always had an interest in complementary therapies, and the service can now offer a variety of therapies, which were detailed in a leaflet that Liz circulated and of which copies are in the Living Tree library. They include massage, reiki, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, reflexology, homeopathy as well as arts therapies such as music and drama activities. In addition Liz has developed a form of non-pressure gentle touch which she has called ‘Jam-Che’ and which can be easily taught to carers and volunteers who do not have any massage qualifications. Liz would be happy to return to the Living Tree to provide more detail and demonstrations on this at a later date.

Liz explained that Weldmar gets 30% of its funding from the NHS, and operates as an independent charity covering North, South and West Dorset. A variety of specialist professionals are employed, including clinical nurses, a bereavement team, a family support team, physiotherapists and social workers.

David Morton is currently reviewing services and is looking at how they can be taken into the wider community rather than just be in Dorchester, so for example some of the services currently offered in Dorchester could be offered in the Bridport area, or other outlying areas. Self-help groups such as the Living Tree can be very helpful as they can feed in information about what the community might want from Weldmar. One option would be to make more use of community hospitals, for example one of the clinical nurse specialists already has an office at Bridport Hospital, although it was acknowledged that many people see enough of hospitals and would prefer to go elsewhere for other therapies. Liz stressed that the Weldmar operate out of a ‘non-hospital’ environment, for example Liz is based at Poundbury rather than at Dorchester Hospital.

Liz explained that a lot of the work they did in the past was specialist palliative care, end of life care, they now acknowledge that earlier intervention would be preferable, and they can signpost if they don’t provide the service themselves. The majority of referrals are from people with cancer, but other conditions are not excluded, for example complementary therapies from Weldmar for those with motor neurone disease is funded by the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and those who attend the day hospice are all together and not divided by diagnosis, and can share experiences.

The group had an interesting discussion around the nomenclature in use, and how the term palliative can be and often is linked with terminal and imminent end of life, and therefore brings a degree of unease to anyone referred to the service. The point was made that more emphasis should be given to ‘surviving with cancer’, rather than being terminal. One of the statistics in the leaflets that Liz distributed pointed out that 50% of hospice patients return home when they feel more comfortable and that the hospice is used a lot for respite care.

Weldmar could not operate without its volunteers; NHS funding cannot be used for the complementary therapies, so volunteers who are trained in offering these therapies are the lynchpin of the service. They must undergo certain checks, including CRB checks (recently the name changed to DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service). In addition Weldmar need to be sure that car insurance is covered for business use, MOT Certificates are up to date etc etc. None of this should be particularly difficult and is certainly not intended to be an obstacle to those wishing to offer their services.

In order to be referred for the complementary therapies people must meet the ‘palliative care remit’ and can be referred by their GPs or another Health Care Professional. Weldmar hold a daily multi professional meeting where all referrals are looked at and triaged.

Those eligible are entitled to three free sessions and then can come to an agreement with the therapist about future sessions; often the therapist will reduce their normal costs for Weldmar patients. Liz is always willing to be contacted by people in order to discuss complementary therapy services and options. She can be contacted on 01305 756927 or via e-mail elizabeth.baines@weld-hospice.org.uk; for other Weldmar services there is a website: www.weld-hospice.org.uk or telephone 01305 215300

Liz left copies of 4 leaflets for the Living Tree Library:

  • Gentle touch –  study of volunteers experiences
  • Mindfulness Meditation evaluation of patient experiences
  • A Guide to Complementary Health Services
  • An Introduction to Our Care

And finally groups such as the Living Tree can be advocates for what they need locally.

Please find a link to a video clip here where one of our members who was able to take advantage of Weldmar services comments on the excellent care she received. By chance, her name is also Liz.