According to the World Health Organisation “Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual”.
Palliative care therefore includes all the care a patient and their families and carers receive, from the tests they have in the diagnosing stages, through to the treatment they receive, social care to help with other areas of their life and the care for physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Depending on the prognosis of a client's cancer, then the treatment may potentially lead to remission of the disease in which case, they may need support in returning to their life, or in situations where prognosis is unlikely to lead to remission, then care in the final stages of life and also support for the bereaved family, can be included in supportive and palliative care.
There are many benefits to using reflexology in palliative care. Contemporary Reflexology College list just a few:
- Reflexology can help improve quality of life by supporting emotional well-being and often helping to reduce the side-effects of some of the medical treatments
- Reflexology can help to relieve anxiety, stress and depression, which are symptoms that may often occur following a diagnosis of cancer, both for the patient and their carers
- Reflexology can help improve sleep
- Research has shown reflexology can help to reduce pain, therefore may reduce the amount of pain relief required, thus also reducing side-effects of higher levels of painkillers.
- Reflexology may help reduce oedema in the ankles
- Reflexology is non-invasive, it does not require the patient to remove lots of clothing and does not invade personal space
- Reflexology can be carried out on a chair or in the bed, so can be adapted to different settings.
- Reflexology can boost energy levels and improve a sense of well being
Macmillan Cancer Support explain “There are many reasons for using complementary therapies. They can be a good way of helping you cope with some of the stresses caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Many therapies are relaxing, and having an enjoyable experience may lift your spirits when you aren't feeling your best. Some complementary therapies can also help to relieve specific symptoms or side effects caused by cancer or its treatments.
Many people regard using complementary therapies as a positive choice they can make for their health and wellbeing. You may be looking at ways to make positive lifestyle changes and see complementary therapies as one way of doing this. You may want to use them to try to boost your health before, during or after cancer treatment.
Some people say that the relationship they develop with their complementary therapist is an additional benefit. Complementary therapists usually work with the person as a whole, not just the part of the body where the cancer is. This is called a holistic approach and is something good healthcare practitioners also do. Many people say talking to their complementary therapist is a valued part of their complementary treatment. Someone who listens may help you cope with difficult feelings, which can be an effective way of getting back some control.
Complementary therapies may help:
- you feel more in control
- improve your quality of life
- reduce stress, tension and anxiety
- you sleep better
- relieve some cancer symptoms
- lessen some of the side effects of cancer treatments.”
Reflexology has the potential to help with all of the points listed above by Macmillan, so can help people with cancer on multiple levels.
There are many articles and research papers on the effects of reflexology.