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Caring for the whole person

Mike Sullivan acknowledges that many people don’t actually know what Wellbeing is all about – or the impact it has on our patients.

“At its simplest, we are there to touch and connect emotionally with the person that is the patient,” says Mike, who is the St Luke’s Wellbeing Services Manager.

“The patient is here for medical care but we are trying to reach the person within, the person with feelings."

“Medical care, quite rightly, is about the practical things that need to be addressed, things like pain levels and sickness, but our job is to look at the individual person who is expressing those symptoms.”

“People come to us with fears and concerns and thoughts and imaginings and dreams and they have to carry those with them and put them to one side while they are going through the medical process, but the one important thing the Wellbeing Service Team has is time at our disposal to allow people to talk about and express all those things.”

The Wellbeing Service at St Luke’s is one of the largest in any Hospice in the North of England, an example of our progressive approach to patient care.

“Because we have such a large team, we are able to see patients not only on the inpatient unit but in the day service, as outpatients and in the community,” says Mike.

“Equally importantly we are able to treat family members and carers as well and this completes a nice circle, for when a patient is relaxing, the family members feel better, and when the family members relax, the patient sees this and feels better as well.”

The Wellbeing Team draw on a range of complementary therapy treatments including massage, reiki and reflexology, hot stones, guided relaxation and acupuncture.

“In everything we offer, we have time to spend with somebody with no agenda, which is probably what sets us apart,” Mike explains.

“Sometimes just sitting at the end of the bed offering a little foot massage is all that it takes to make that important connection, physically at first but then emotionally too, developing a relationship of trust so the person can open up and let go of some of the things they may have been holding inside.”

“And the other thing we aim to do is create a space that can be complete silence and when a person experiences that silence they start to feel it is okay to fill that silence with their own thoughts.”