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A - Z of your care

Listed below are a series of terms you are likely to come across during the course of your care. To get a definition, just click on the relevant word in our alphabetical list.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice involving the stimulation of special points on the body. It centres on the belief that energy flows through the body along channels. Practitioners believe that energy flow can be disturbed by many factors. Acupuncture aims to restore the flow so it moves in a smooth and balanced way.

By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, acupuncturists aim to stimulate the body's response and help to restore its natural balance. The needles are sterile and extremely fine - people are often unaware they have even been inserted.

Acupressure

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture - an ancient Chinese practice involving the stimulation of special points on the body. Like acupuncture, it centres on the belief that energy flows through the body along channels. Practitioners believe that energy flow can be disturbed by many factors. Acupressure aims to restore the flow so it moves in a smooth and balanced way.

While acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into special points along the channels of energy to stimulate a response, acupressure applies pressure to these points instead.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses the oils extracted from plants, flowers, trees, bushes and herbs. These oils give off fragrant aromas and are known as essential oils. They have many uses and can be used in baths, inhalations and massage.

Aromatherapy massage is the combination of massage with the medicinal properties of essential oils. It is thought that essential oils are absorbed through the skin during massage and also by inhalation through the nose.

Aromatherapy massage makes use of touch and smell and can help relieve anxiety and some types of pain.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies do not replace traditional care, but many people comment on their relaxing qualities and overall benefits. Therapies may include aromatherapy using essential oils and various massage techniques.

District Nurses

The District Nurse is part of the primary health care team. They organise and coordinate home care and can arrange for a range of services to be provided to you if you are receiving care at home. These vary from area to area but can include Marie Curie Nurses, Macmillan Nurses, social services, sitters or prepared meals delivered to you.

The District Nurse can also provide you with information about local services such as carers’ groups, your local hospice, drop-in centres, organisations offering grants, complementary therapy practitioners, interpreting services and other relevant services and benefits.

GP and primary health care team

The primary health care team is a team of healthcare professionals, including your GP, and is usually based in a health centre or surgery. Your GP will liaise with the District Nurse, who is part of the team, regarding your care if you are being cared for at home. The GP is in charge of your medical care which includes prescribing your medications.

Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a natural state of heightened awareness, where you are able to open your mind to beneficial suggestions to help make positive changes in your life.

The hypnotic state is similar to the warm, calm secure feelings that we often have as we drift off to sleep or as we slowly awake in the morning. Techniques range from simple relaxing visualisation to empowering people to take control through suggestion. The person will usually be able to recall the whole experience.

Indian head massage

Indian head massage is a technique which manipulates the soft tissue of the shoulders, arms, neck and scalp. It is believed that these are important energy centres in the body and treating these areas can benefit the whole body. People say it can help to relieve stress and tension headaches and induce a state of calm, peace and tranquility.

Indian head massage is a safe and convenient therapeutic treatment that can be performed with the person in a seated position.

Lymphoedema specialists

Lymphoedema is swelling of the limbs or body with fluid. This sometimes occurs due to illness or following surgery or radiotherapy leading to pain and discomfort.

Lymphoedema specialists can help to ease your symptoms through massage, or by using pressure garments to control the swelling. They also advise on exercises that may help.

Macmillan Nurses

Macmillan Nurses specialise in cancer treatment and care, supporting people with cancer from the time they are diagnosed. They offer emotional support and practical advice to people with cancer and their families in the UK. They are highly trained in managing pain and other symptoms. Macmillan Nurses work with and advise the District Nurse or primary care team.

A Macmillan Nurse usually spends up to an hour with each person, and does not generally provide physical or nursing care unless the need arises during a visit.

Marie Curie Nurses

Marie Curie nursing care is provided by Registered Nurses or Senior Healthcare Assistants. Both grades of staff offer physical and emotional care for patients and support for families. There are differences in their qualifications and the work they are permitted to do.

Marie Curie Registered Nurses

Marie Curie registered nurses:

  • are qualified nurses who are registered to practice with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • assess, plan, deliver and evaluate all nursing care
  • give and can advise on prescribed medication including injections and drugs given using a syringe driver
  • Marie Curie Registered Nurses are qualified nurses who are registered to practice with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • They assess, plan, deliver and evaluate all nursing care
  • Additionally, they give and can advise on prescribed medication including injections and drugs given using a syringe driver
Marie Curie Senior Healthcare Assistants (SHCAs):

Senior Healthcare Assistants:

  • give care as identified in the District Nurse’s care plan
  • assist with personal needs such as washing, dressing and mobility
  • assist with giving routine medicines* (to patients who are not confused) according to the patient’s drug administration chart. This includes monitoring syringe drivers and helping to administer nebulisers and oxygen but excludes giving injections or eye drops. *Providing the SHCA has received formal training and the local NHS supports this practice.
Massage

This ancient art involves therapeutic stroking and kneading of the soft tissues of the body. There are many different massage techniques but those used in the hospice incorporate gentle movements over the skin and muscles to invite the body tissues to let go of tensions and strain, and to experience deep relaxation. The movements of therapeutic massage can be suited to individual needs. The touch does not have to be deep to be beneficial.

Massage treatment is often a safe form of touch for people who are uncomfortable with physical contact.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy can help you maintain the most important aspects a person’s lifestyle. By getting to know them the occupational therapist will find out what activities the person considers important and work with them to find ways to achieve them. From cooking and dressing, to attending that special occasion; an occupational therapist can work through problems and suggest adaptations to people enjoy life more.

Palliative care

If you have been told you may not get better you may have already heard of the term palliative care. This type of care focuses on helping you to maintain the best possible quality of life. Palliative care includes a variety of treatments to help you with any physical problems as well as your social and psychological needs. Support also extends to your family and friends who may have concerns about you and your illness. You might receive palliative care at the same time as other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can help people to move around and stay as active and independent as possible. Physiotherapists design programmes for people which may involve strengthening muscles to help them walk or exercises to reduce shortness of breath. Physiotherapists may also arrange walking aids and other equipment to help people’s rehabilitation.

Reflexology

Reflexology involves a method of treatment using massage to the reflex areas of the feet and sometimes the hands.

Reflexologists believe that for every body part, organ and gland there is a corresponding area on the foot and to a lesser degree the hand. By applying pressure to a particular area of the foot or hand, a response may be brought about within a specific part of the body.

Reflexology can be performed if the person is sitting or lying down. Only socks and shoes are removed and a very gentle pressure applied.

Reiki

Reiki means ‘universal energy’. Central to Reiki is the belief that this energy flows through all living things and is vital to wellbeing.

A Reiki treatment involves the therapist placing their hands either on or just above certain points of the body. Reiki practitioners believe energy then flows from the therapist through to the recipient according to their needs. People often report a feeling of deep relaxation or a sense of emotional release. The person being treated remains fully clothed and may sit or lie down.

Relaxation

Relaxation therapy aims to promote a state of balance and peace. Relaxation methods are taught to groups of people by an experienced health professional. The techniques include relaxing groups of muscles, breathing exercises and imagining relaxing scenes.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning ‘finger pressure’. It involves the therapist using fingers, thumbs, elbows and sometimes feet and knees to apply gentle pressure to key points in the body. Practitioners believe that this helps to stimulate energy flow.

Social, practical spiritual and emotional support. This type of support helps people with practical or emotional problems that may be causing them concern. This may involve helping to arrange support services in someone’s home, advising on employment or welfare benefits or helping people cope with the emotional impact of an illness. Spiritual support involves helping a person with the deeper, spiritual aspects of their life, if this is important to them.

Social workers

Social workers can help people with practical or emotional problems that may be causing them concern. This may involve helping to arrange support services in someone’s home, advising on employment or welfare benefits, or helping people cope with the emotional impact of an illness.

Specialist palliative care team

Specialist palliative care teams are made up of different professionals who are experts in palliative care. They work with your GP and primary healthcare team by providing specialist advice and treatment so you receive the care that you need in the place of your choice.