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1 February 2018

Mike Murphy, CNHC registrant, tells us about training he provided to Therapists at the Merlin Multiple Sclerosis Centre in Cornwall...

I was recently approached by a private client, Melissa King, a high performance Triathlete and the Lead Neurological Physiotherapist at the Merlin MS Centre, about a training opportunity.  Melissa was looking to collaborate with a local therapist with specialist skills to provide further training for the Centre’s therapists.

A wide range of patients visit the Centre on a regular basis, many with Multiple Sclerosis and other long-term conditions.  Many have limited mobility and Melissa wanted the Centre to be able to provide more support to these clients.  I devised a programme including a mix of theoretical and practical ‘hands-on’ training to specifically aid those with mobility limitations.   

On 7th December 2017, I delivered a full day of training to a group of 6 staff including a Neurological Physiotherapist, Melissa King, and several Therapy Assistants including Ash Smith, Sam Williams, Jackie Baigent, Kerry Barrett and Ali Lochri.  I taught safety considerations and contraindications to treatments.  I then focused on Manual Therapy and Massage approaches to address musculoskeletal imbalances caused through incorrect posture for MS and post-stroke patients.  Knowing that many patients are often in wheelchairs, I also included methods for adapting these treatments for seated patients.  

(The photo above shows me observing taught techniques)

It was a real pleasure to be able to offer advice on the beneficial effects and the differing approaches to massage/manual therapies for these patients.  Melissa and her team were excited following the training and said they couldn’t wait to start putting the new skills they learned into practice.  

When we all work together, we can share knowledge to benefit patients and the public.  I am so pleased that the skills and approaches used for Sports Massage and Sports Therapy can be used to support other healthcare therapists and professionals in different areas of expertise, and it demonstrates how those with different core training can complement each other in providing care and support to individuals with long-term conditions.  

My registration with CNHC demonstrates that I have met a set of standards and agreed to a code of conduct, ethics and performance, which was a strong consideration when Mel approached me for support.  I am very keen to continue my efforts and I hope to be able to offer similar training to other organisations in the future.  

Mike Murphy, CNHC registrant and Sports Therapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) Member

12 December 2017

Rosemary Pharo, a CNHC registered Aromatherapist, writes about her experience supporting Grenfell Tower residents by providing Aromatherapy...

It is another day in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Another local resident is sitting talking to the Complementary Support Teams UK (CST-UK) therapists. The resident is talking about an inability to sleep, memories of helplessly watching the tower burn, the anxiety, having to be signed off work, the difficulties with accommodation. “Overwhelm” is taking over.

Yet less than an hour later this resident is calm and beginning to have more control over their thoughts. Their body language is calmer. Their breathing has changed.

So what happened? The first step was to offer specific essential oils in a particular order to inhale. Essential oils are already being routinely offered via inhalation in some cancer centres as a way of combatting side effects of treatment and as anti-anxiety measures. Once calmer, the resident could be offered a one-to-one treatment by one of the multi-skilled team. Dignity, choice and respect are key words for local residents.

Mention aromatherapy and most people will probably think of a massage with candles in a pleasantly dark room.  However professional aromatherapists are taught to use a wider variety of methods to deliver the benefits.

This is why the survivors and residents of North Kensington who are taking up the services provided by CST-UK’s experienced therapists are finding the aromatherapy offered so helpful.

It doesn't require talking, which can potentially trigger painful memories. It does act directly on the body’s primitive fear response systems, which can loop into an unending nightmare.

Some of the local volunteers who are working tirelessly to support residents have been given standard, pre-made trauma support inhaler sticks. They can now hand out what is a helpful first aid response to residents who are struggling to get through the dark days and nights. The inhalers or ‘sniffy sticks’ are a low cost (£2-3 each) and empowering self-help tool that we would love to be able to get out to even more people.

It was through one of my friends that I got involved with helping people around Grenfell who had been affected. There is so much work to do. Our vision as a group is to offer a multi-disciplinary complementary therapy service with trauma specialists of many kinds working as an integrated team and referring to a wide variety of therapies, depending on what is appropriate to the residents around Grenfell as their needs change. Because the after-effects of the worst peacetime disaster in recent times are not going to go away any time soon. That’s why our wish is to have a dedicated base where local residents can receive therapies they choose any day of the week from a team of experienced professional therapists.

You can learn more about what we are doing as a team by going to our Facebook page or our website

Rosemary Pharo, CNHC registrant and Aromatherapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) Member

4 December 2017

Karen Shields, a CNHC registered nutritional therapist, writes about how she teaches healthy eating life skills to a class of learning disabled individuals in Hertfordshire...

Me on the left and with Liz McElroy, horticultural therapist

I qualified as a nutritional therapist in 2012 and joined CNHC that year and began practising at my own clinic. In June 2016 I started volunteering (in my capacity as a nutritional therapist) at the Triangle Community Garden in Hitchin.

Their Growing Health group is a guided-support group set up to help its learning disabled members to lead healthier, more active lives. Activities include walking, sport, cooking and learning about healthy eating. The group meets every Tuesday morning for three hours at the pavilion at Ransom's recreation ground.

Many of the members suffer with obesity or conditions such as type 2 diabetes, so every week we try to help them understand what sort of foods they should include in their diets that will help them balance their blood sugar levels. We also discuss nutrition related news such as the sugar tax or low fat versus high fat diets, and we look at food labelling and educate them about products that are not as healthy as they seem.

Initially, our kitchen equipment was sparse and so when demonstrating how to cook we were limited in our range of menus as we only had a kettle and a microwave.  Luckily we were awarded some funding - £450 - and have been able to buy a variety of kitchen equipment, namely two induction hobs, chopping boards, knives, pots and pans.

We also bring in education in health and safety in the kitchen, as well as food hygiene. This has helped our participants learn how to read food labels and the relevance of best before and sell by dates on packaging, including how to store foods correctly.

Our three hour group consists of about 10 gardeners - we split the group into two with half going off to the allotment to tend to the crops with our gardener and support worker, and the other half in the kitchen with myself and the horticultural therapist to prepare lunch according to the seasonal recipe that we have planned the week before.

Ingredients: spring onions, cucumber, feta, cherry tomatoes, carrots, basil and lemon and cauliflower

We have taught the group how to use tools safely for preparing and cooking  - something that we may take for granted but is actually quite a challenge for them. The group has made a range of meals from chickpea and chilli cakes, cottage pie with lentils and sweet potato, stir fry vegetables with noodles, tomato and basil bruschetta with homemade pesto, salad Niçoise, parsnip and carrot rösti served with poached eggs, and falafels made three ways with spinach and feta, chick peas and sweet potato.

Tricolore cauliflower rice salad

The outcome of this programme has been to show the members how to cook and prepare ingredients in order to take control of their own diets. We also discuss a concept known as "from farm to fork" - a direct link between cooking, eating and growing vegetables which helps the group reconnect with where food comes from and helping them to develop a healthier diet. Recognising what and where the ingredients in our food comes from can make us appreciate and enjoy food and will hopefully lead to better, healthier choices when choosing what to eat in the future.

Courgettes growing in the Triangle Community Garden

Every week we ask the members to offer feedback on what they have prepared, cooked and eaten - and each week we have seen positive feedback about foods that they thought they did not like or perhaps have never even tried. A case in point was with our salad Nicoise - everyone enjoyed the flavours - including the anchovies - and they all agreed that when they next visited Pizza Express they would order this as it is a healthier option. This is definitely progress.

Each week the members continue to lose weight and work towards their goals by adopting healthier lifestyles based on what they have learned in the group. We have also experienced a change in mood and behaviour in the individuals themselves - in some cases from a state of anxiety to a state of calm and happiness.

As a nutritional therapist it has been eye opening to see the local community come together to support one another to improve their health. The Triangle Garden is really a superb local community facility and is making a huge difference to people's lives in North Hertfordshire. It has also allowed me to learn new skills, by working with a different demographic and giving me the experience and confidence of working in a group. It has also exposed me to extra training in safeguarding adults, food safety and hygiene.

My only wish would be that the NHS saw our progress with these individuals and made use of it by referring further individuals to the group, which would increase our funding and enable us to provide more facilities to a wider community.

27 September 2017

"Why I love my Job"

Ana M Angarita, CNHC registered
Complementary Therapist- MacMillan Centre

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

“Would I want to work in a hospital?” - That was the first question that crossed my mind when I initially thought about volunteering as a complementary therapist.

I thought long and hard about it and then decided to apply for a volunteering vacancy with the Macmillan Centre in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital which I saw advertised in the CNHC website.

Working as a volunteer is very rewarding. I help the patients live with cancer by trying to improve their quality of life and wellbeing.

There is no typical day as a complementary therapist volunteer. Every day is different. I work with the patients, their family members and their carers. My work is based either in the wards or in the Macmillan Centre therapy room.

Each patient is unique. Each patient is important to me. There are more smiles and laughs than you think!

You get to know the patients and work alongside the medical team. What matters here is seeing the patient as a whole.

Seeing satisfied patients, carers and family is so rewarding! Nice compliments give you the energy and motivation to come back week after week.

Hospitals are not as cold and clinical as some people think. They are full of human stories, they are busy places where there is always something happening.

At the end of a busy day, I leave with a sense of achievement. It’s like when you set yourself a personal goal at the gym and then after a lot of hard work and determination, you see the results.

The experience I’ve gained is invaluable. Each patient has taught me a lot and each patient is an inspiration to me.

Not only do you learn about other people’s life journeys but you learn about yourself.

I also work in the private sector but nothing compares to the sense of fulfilment of helping somebody facing cancer.

I’m a volunteer and I’m not here for money. I am here because I want to be here.

Now, I know that I love hospitals. I love Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and I love volunteering.