“I didn’t think it was possible to be so in love with what I do.”

John Taylor Hospice Complementary Therapist Angela Vigus shares how her role helps patients and carers to relax, and the numerous ways in which complementary therapies can aid wellbeing.

The door to my therapy room is opposite the Living Well Centre entrance, in the heart of John Taylor Hospice. I work between both rooms and, pre-pandemic, passers-by would always hear soft music floating down the corridor and smell the inviting and relaxing aroma of essential oils!

Although our Living Well Centre has been unable to welcome visitors during lockdown, our support for patients and their loved ones has certainly not stopped. Each and every one of our day visitors, along with their families and carers, are such a special part of our hospice family.

My role is to aid relaxation and I feel so lucky to have continued working during the pandemic doing what I love. I started working at John Taylor Hospice in January 2018 and set up the Complementary Therapy Service, and can honestly say my job still doesn’t feel like work. It’s true what people say that if you find a passion for something, you will put your heart and soul into it. Looking back over the years, I didn’t think it was possible to be so in love with what I do.

During the last 12 months of the pandemic, I’ve been supporting hospice patients, families and carers with virtual sessions and have often delivered bespoke complementary therapy packs to their homes. I like to sprinkle a little magic along the way and brighten someone’s day where I can – and my service users will tell you it’s not unusual to find gold stars, hearts and sprinkles in with their creams, gels and aroma sticks!

Virtual Spa Experience

Recently we’ve hosted our first-ever John Taylor Hospice Virtual Spa Day! The idea was borne thanks to our Living Well Centre patients, who began lockdown with phone meditations and postal activities, before we moved to online sessions. These proved to be a big hit with patients and families and I knew that the next step was an event as it helps keep everyone connected – and it’s great to have something to look forward to.

I’ve been planning the event for a while, so it’s given me plenty of time to practice my papercutting skills and make the event ‘Taylor-made’. It’s the little touches like having event tickets and relabeling the water bottles that help make the event more special. They also help to keep that connection to John Taylor even though people aren’t physically in the building. 

To have a luxurious goodie bag filled with spa slippers was amazing, and having the lovely perfume and candles was a real indulgent moment! We can’t thank our friends at New Hall Hotel & Spa in Sutton Coldfield, and Next, enough for their support. All donations helped so much, and once I added it all together to create the bags I was amazed how it all looked. All goodie bags were delivered through socially-distanced doorstep deliveries, which helped to build up the excitement! How wonderful that a simple idea can lead to pure delight and enjoyment.  

Self-care and empowerment in complementary therapies

I’m also a big believer in passing on tips that might help someone at home, such as making their own uplifting music hit list. Or, if someone can’t sleep, to try some relaxing music before bed. As a therapist I want to be able to pass on tools to help someone at home when they have been up all night worrying and can’t sleep, or they hit a low point and need to relax. By teaching self-care, I help people to take their own power back and do something about it for themselves. If someone then tells you: “I was going to have a panic attack but I remembered the breathing you taught me and I managed,” or: “I pictured your room full of butterflies and did my breathing and managed to fall asleep,” – those are often big personal wins for people.  

When someone falls asleep during a session, or their breathing becomes softer and the shoulders and jaw relax, the pure beauty in that moment is hard to describe, as I know in a very small way I have given someone the peace of being pain-free, calm, relaxed and tranquil all rolled together. Moments like that are priceless and I get to share in that every day I’m at the hospice. I’m also lucky to work with an amazing team of palliative care assistants, nurses and doctors who happily encourage and suggest therapies to help with everyday issues. Hospice life is like no other job and my heart is now firmly embedded in ‘Living Well’. 

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What our patients think

“The care was second to none”

“At such a heartbreaking and difficult time, the nurses and care assistants knew exactly what to do and to say – we’d have been lost without them. The care they provided for my beautiful wife was second to none and I’ll be forever grateful.”

Roger Perks

“Nothing is too much trouble”

“I can’t thank hospice teams enough. From fitting grab rails in my house and ordering a reclining bed, reviewing of all my medication, providing me with new medical equipment and even helping to organise domestic help for us at home – they’ve covered everything but are always willing to do even more.”

Jackie Bannister

“I don’t know where I’d be without them”

“The support I get is truly is invaluable and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. I’m able to talk openly about my illness and ask for advice and support if I need it. I’ve made some incredible friends and the hospice is a very special place full of laughter and kindness. “

Liz Warren

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