Aromatherapy at Red Cross and Sarah Fox - Fiona McLennan

Aromatherapy at Red Cross and Sarah Fox - Fiona McLennan

Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is a vital institution in Africa. Over eight years ago, Prof Heinz Rode in the Burns Unit asked for an aromatherapist to come and work there. Since then, there has been an aromatherapy programme at Red Cross. Linda-Anne O’Flaherty has been the mainstay of that, and it is thanks to her that aromatherapists are now recognised as part of the Pain Management team and taken seriously in the work that they do. I’ve been there since January this year, working first in the Trauma Ward and then in one of the Surgical Wards, as well as helping with a research project in collaboration with the Dutch Burns Society, in the Burns Ward.

Linda- Anne, knowing of my interest in Palliative Care, suggested I might want to move to Sarah Fox Children’s Convalescent Ward, where they opened a palliative care ward in July. So I’m at Sarah Fox one morning a week and Red Cross one afternoon a week. It really is a privilege to be able to assist in this way. At Sarah Fox, which is a step-down unit (from Red Cross) for children who cannot be cared for at home, or who have no suitable home, children with long-term conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy that has resulted in brain damage, degenerative neurological conditions and some life-threatening illnesses, are housed, fed, cared for, nursed and schooled in so far it is possible. There is a ten bed palliative care ward run by an extremely experienced palliative care sister. The goal of aromatherapy is to give the children stimulation, compassionate and appropriate touch, and to assist the children to be calmer, less anxious, and more stable. It is a real achievement when a non-stop mover actually sits still long enough to have a massage! The children are extremely receptive in their different ways, some very verbal and others cannot speak but smile or calm down or fall asleep. Every single massage has its rewards in some way. Because the children at Sarah Fox are either there permanently or at least till well enough to return home, they get to know the the various therapists, which makes massage easier, as they clearly indicate if they want a massage and are co-operative and happy when they get one. In the short time I’ve been there, I believe I have seen some really positive signs in the children I have massaged. I feel incredibly lucky to be there and to have really amazing people who support what I do there and at Red Cross.