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Staff experience

Stephen Rowley Senior Divisional Nurse Clinical Haematology UCLH

“Even with today’s clinical advancements cancer remains a debilitating experience. The combined damage from disease and intensive treatment, on self, family and employment often has an overwhelming effect on an individual’s wellbeing. To think all this can be treated by chemotherapy and radiotherapy is simply daft! 

This was why in 1999 when I first saw Angie and then later her team provide healing to patients at University College London Hospitals, it was immediately obvious that patients benefited from having this additional support and that they very quickly considered it to be an essential part of their treatment. Not as curative treatment (although some additional hope is a powerful phenomenon) but simply to help cope with the profound experience and impact of cancer treatment. Some of the patient interactions were quite spectacular. But most impressive was the way something like healing was so quickly integrated into an acute NHS service. Seeing doctors ask for a healer to help support a patient through a medical procedure was not unusual and at the time represented a quiet but important evolution in cancer care.  

Over the subsequent decade, the supportive and clinical benefits that healing provides has provided the evidence and assurance for healing to be delivered alongside conventional treatments on a wider scale. The further expansion of well governed healing into 13 other centres ‎via the SBSHT is further tangible evidence of the role healing is playing in the integrated care of patients. 

Some will naturally question the evidence and funding of healing with charitable or NHS monies. But for perspective we can ask the same question of the far greater millions of pounds spent across the NHS, on say, Public Relations departments to name just one. All these things probably have value. But healing is a front line treatment involving human to human contact when a person with cancer most needs a helping hand. I know which ‘department’ I would prioritise. 

I applaud Angie's work and her non conditional dedication to others, and the work of healers and complementary therapists across the UK helping support cancer patients; in ways that probably only people who have had cancer can properly articulate. As health care professionals we need to target the individual as well as the disease. Being able to provide healing alongside conventional treatment is something that helps us to do that”. 

Dr Maria Michelagnoli, Consultant Oncologist, Patron

"I am a paediatric and adolescent oncologist at the University College Hospital.  We have been privileged to have a team of healers working alongside ourselves for the past number of years.  In fact, the team have become integral members of our paediatric and adolescent multidisciplinary teams.

They have provided complementary roles in many circumstances including troubled/anxious children and young people and their families, are supportive of those chronically unwell and have been utilised for specific difficulties such as needle-phobia.  In addition, they have provided important staff support; the roles are varied and dependent on the preferences of families and children.

In particular, we found no conflict of interest with ‘spiritual healing' proffered by religious groups.  It is hard to imagine how the service would function without the support and dedication of our particular team.I can't recommend enough the value of this resource within the service."

The benefits extend to improving the quality of life (personal and work) of both the hospital staff and the patient’s families.

Staff treatments form part of our work and these comments reflect how supportive our projects are to them.

Staff member, “I could feel my back releasing, as if I was sinking into a cloud. I cannot remember the last time I was comfortable on a bed. There is so much going on in my life right now. Thank you for the healing… and to think I ‘poo-pooed’ this!”

Staff member (student nurse), “I am going to tell the world. I would definitely like more of this. I didn’t even know about it!”
Staff member (student nurse), “OMG, that was amazing. May I have this again?”

Staff member (sister), “I am constantly receiving positive feedback from staff, parents and children. How wonderful that you are offering this service. Thank you so much.”



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