World Reflexology Week takes place every year in September, It’s a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of complementary therapies and how they work as part of our holistic end of life care.

We use complementary therapies safely alongside standard healthcare to improve wellbeing. By providing psychological and emotional support, our complementary therapies aim to reduce anxiety and stress by promoting relaxation, as well as helping to ease symptoms such as pain, nausea and breathlessness.

Reflexology, as a therapy, is based on the belief that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands believed to correspond to all organs and parts of the body. The theory is that all the body systems and organs of the body mirror as a map on the soles of our feet. Our reflexologists work on these points with their thumbs and fingers using specialised massage techniques.

We spoke to Jo Stewart, our Complementary Therapy Lead and Volunteer Complementary Therapist, Tina Hughes, to find out what that led them to practice Reflexology at Willen Hospice.

What was it that first sparked your interest in reflexology?

Tina saysI started my reflexology journey when my own wellbeing was not at its best. I was amazed by the positive effect and how I felt after the sessions, so I decided to explore reflexology  in more depth and trained as a therapist.”

Jo adds “I was working as a NHS physiotherapist when I decided to train in Reflexology and complementary therapies.”

How does reflexology help those going through end-of life treatment?

Jo tells us “At the time I trained, a family member with leukaemia was receiving regular reflexology treatments at a cancer centre and I saw how they found it hugely beneficial in helping with wellbeing and relaxation.”

Tina highlights the benefits to our families ”We’re able to help patients and their families too by offering some support to help them relax during what can be a very difficult time.”

What do you find most rewarding about being a reflexologist?

Tina tells us “I’ve always had a passion for helping and making people feel better. I feel very honoured to be able to help patients through their end-of life journey.”

Jo finds that she “likes that I see first-hand, how reflexology significantly eases feelings of anxiety and restores a deep sense of calm to our patients.”

Thank you Jo and Tina for all that you do for our patients and their families.

Reflexology is also a very easy therapy to introduce, patients can be fully clothed and only need remove socks and shoes and a session can be shortened into 15-20 minutes. At the start of treatment, feet are cleansed and then a variety of techniques will be used, adapted to suit the needs of our patients.

Tina recently completed her Complementary Therapy placement at Willen Hospice and we are pleased to say that she continues to support our patients and families as one of our lovely Volunteers.

Jo is a member of CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council) and practices other complementary therapies at Willen Hospice as the Complementary Therapy Lead.

Jo shared a useful video by Association of Reflexologists which  you can view here.