Monday, June 09, 2003
By Health Newswire reporters
National guidelines designed to encourage good practice in the use of complementary therapies for palliative care have been published.
The guidelines – drawn up by the National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services, and The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health – are intended to help improve the quality, patient safety and outcomes of complementary therapies in palliative care settings.
Public Health Minister Hazel Blears launched the guidelines at the House of Commons today (09/06/03). Free copies are to be given to all UK hospices, supportive and palliative care providers, and primary care trusts.
Nine complementary therapies are included in the guidelines: acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, hypnosis and hypnotherapy, massage, reflexology, reiki, spiritual healing and therapeutic touch.
Although the guidelines’ main focus is cancer, there is also information on how the therapies can help with motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
It is hoped that the guidelines – aimed at managers, health professionals and others responsible for developing complementary therapy services in palliative care – will help organisations develop their own policies on the use of complementary therapies based on good practice and local needs.
Examples of good practice are offered for processes such as the referral and assessment of patients and continuing professional development for therapists.
According to a recent survey cited by the Prince of Wales’s Foundation, 32 per cent of cancer patients receive complementary therapy treatments, and almost half of those not already receiving them would like to do so.
Other surveys and service evaluations report that cancer patients find complementary therapies helpful in controlling the stress, pain and side effects associated with mainstream cancer treatment.
In a preface to the guidelines, the Department of Health’s National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards says a substantial number of cancer patients choose to receive complementary therapies alongside conventional cancer treatments.
“It is important that where [such] services are provided, this is done in a way which protects patients’ safety,” Prof Richards writes.
“These guidelines address issues which are directly related to patient
safety in the provision of complementary therapy services, including clinical
governance, regulation and training of therapists and audit and evaluation.”
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