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Katharine House Hospice promotes an holistic approach to care, addressing all the patients needs, not just the physical ones. Our patients can access a range of complementary therapies free of charge. Complementary therapies have been proven to reduce stress and promote mental well-being.

This service is available to carers*, as well as patients and includes:

The systematic use of essential oils in treatment to improve physical and emotional well-being.

A safe, relaxing treatment alleviates anxiety and promotes relaxation by applying pressure to the hands and feet.

Massage (therapeutic)


* The carer and/or the person they care for must be accessing at least one of Katharine House Hospice's other services to access this one.  Katharine House Hospice offers complementary therapies to carers in their own home as a support in their role.  This service is available for the main informal carer of a person with an advanced, life-limiting condition.


What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the systematic use of essential oils in treatment to improve physical and emotional well-being.  Many plant species contain essential oils, highly fragrant and inflammable essences which evaporate quickly and which are extracted from plants by a distillation process. Essential oils can be applied in a variety of ways, including massage, vaporisers, baths, creams, lotions and compresses. The essential oils are absorbed through the skin and/or by inhalation. An aromatherapy treatment should be an extremely relaxing and pleasurable experience which will not interfere with medical treatment and may in fact enhance it.

How does it work?

The therapeutic effect of aromatherapy results from a combination of the physiological effects of the oils, combined with massage. The fragrance of the oils also stimulates the sense of smell which elicits certain emotions; the limbic system of the midbrain, which is concerned with emotional as well as visual function, may be involved in the release of hormones which influence mood.

What are the benefits?

The best evidence available indicates that aromatherapy (and massage) may be useful in the followings ways:
Significantly improving emotional symptoms, in particular concentration, mood and feelings about appearance and the future, improving well-being and quality of life.

Reported:  Muscle tension improvement, relief from tension headaches, improved digestion.

After care advice

Avoid washing your skin or bathing for a minimum of 8 hours.   Avoid direct exposure to strong sunlight.  Avoid alcohol and smoking.  Drink plenty of fresh water or herbal tea.  Enjoy rest and relaxation.


What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a holistic therapy that treats the whole body using specific pressure points on the hands and feet. The hands and feet are a mirror image of the body and they have reflex points that relate to the whole body. By applying pressure to these points in a methodical order, you can treat the related organs of the body to bring everything into balance. Imbalances will show themselves by the experience of pain in the related pressure point or through the presence of ‘gritty areas,’ referred to as crystal deposits. Reflexology is a safe relaxing treatment that can be given with minimum affect or disturbance to the recipient.

How does it work?

Through the stimulation of the circulatory and lymphatic systems and by encouraging the release of toxins, reflexology promotes the body to heal itself. There is also a positive effect on the nervous system as reflexology treatment helps to reduce nervous tension which is often a root of a large percentage of modern illnesses.

What are the benefits?

Although we are all individuals and react to treatments differently, there are some general benefits to treatment:

  • Promotes relaxation and alleviates anxiety
  • Reduces pain
  • Alleviates symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness, constipation and nausea.
  • Alleviates side effects of chemotherapy
  • Reduces strain and tension
  • Improves well-being and quality of life

After care advice

Sit for a few minutes and take care getting down off the couch/chair.  Avoid bending down.  Avoid rushing round for a few hours.  Avoid eating a heavy meal.  Have a warm drink after half an hour and increase fluid intake for 24 hours but avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.


What is massage?

Massage is a very ancient art and means of communication.  It is the art of giving and receiving touch.  Warmth, comfort, pleasure and safety are all communicated throught the hands.  It can be done through clothing or directly on the skin.  All massage given at Katharine House is gentle in nature, using light stroking and holding rather than vigorous manipulations.

What are the benefits?

  • Reduction  in anxiety, pain and depression
  • general feeling of well-being

Relaxtion and Mindfulness


Your body is relaxed when it is free of tension and your brain has 'switched off' and gone into peaceful mode.

Because of our stressful lives, many of us have lost the ability to relax and we have to re-learn now.  Planned relaxation calms anxiety and helps your body and mind recover from everyday stresses.

Try this simple excerccise:  Sit in a quiet room where you won't be disturbed.  Close your eyes and take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Feel youself drift away as you concentrate on your breathing.  Try to imagine you are in a favourite place, perhaps a nice warm beach or walking through fresh, green countryside.  Stay in this place as long as you can.  Try to spend 10 minutes relaxing.  This excersie can also be done when you go to bed.


This is a very simple form of meditation.  It is a method of mental training.  It does not take a lot of time, although some patience and persistence is required.  A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body.  Focusing on your breath in this way allows yout to observe your thoughts as they arise and little by little, let go of them.

The Complementary Therapy service is only available to Katharine House Hospice patients and their families