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Complementary Therapy

The well-being of the whole person (mind, body & soul) is important when trying to cope with a long term condition, subsequent treatments and disease progression. Caring for or losing a loved one in this situation can also be overwhelming on every level.

The complementary therapy service has a holistic and supportive role in sustaining the whole person, helping to ease the symptoms of stress and anxiety, improving sleep and general comfort. It can safely be used alongside conventional medicine and is not offered as an alternative treatment for disease, but for the purpose of support and relaxation only. Complementary therapies are widely used in palliative care and with an experienced therapist are safe, enjoyable and beneficial to those with a cancer diagnosis as well as other long term conditions. Your therapist will assess your needs individually and adapt what they do to suit you. If you have any concerns about the session please ask a therapist at the hospice or call and speak to the Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator.

What therapies are available?


Gentle flowing strokes to soothe, relax and ease the body, carried out in an unhurried manner, using high quality oils/ creams.


Using fragranced Essential Oils, extracted from plants, for their therapeutic value to either enhance massage or just for inhalation. The therapist will assist you in choosing the appropriate oil or blend of oils to suit your needs.

Indian Head Massage

Soothing massage to upper back, neck, shoulders, scalp and face. Carried out seated, with or without the need to remove clothing or use cream/oil; focusing on those areas more vulnerable to symptoms of stress and tension.


Gentle pressure to reflexes or points on the feet or hands that correspond to all parts of the body. Gentle massage to these points can help restore and maintain the body’s natural resources, helping to alleviate aches/pains, stress and tension. A relaxing and pleasurable experience that can strengthen and support on many levels.


This is the most tender and non-intrusive of the therapies where the client remains clothed and either seated or lying down. The therapist will place their hands directly on or near the body, using the energy flow to help restore and rebalance inner resources, encouraging inner peace and calm. It has no connection to any religious or belief system and is entirely safe.

Shiatsu Massage

Gentle massage involving pressure with the thumbs or palms to those areas of the body used in acupuncture. The client remains clothed in whichever position is comfortable for them. It is particularly helpful with stress, tension, aches and pains, sleep and digestive issues.

Guided Relaxation & Visualisation

Carried out in groups or one-to-one sessions. Learn how to deeply relax and ‘let go’ of the body and allow the mind to follow suit. By practising these simple techniques, this can encourage the release of tension and anxiety trapped within the body and mind. These techniques may then improve your general wellbeing and how you cope in stressful situations.

Where are the sessions run?

• In-Patient Unit on days when a therapist is in attendance

• Out-Patient/Carer/Bereaved Service at Welwyn Garden City on Mondays

• Bereavement Group at Welwyn Garden City on Wednesdays

• Anyone attending day care services at Welwyn Garden City or Bishop’s Stortford can access therapies there

• Patients’ own homes, for those who are housebound subject to availability of a therapist.

Who is the service for?

We offer complementary therapy to patients, carers/relatives and bereaved relatives through referrals from our Health Care Professionals. If you wish to have complementary therapy at the hospice please speak to a member of hospice staff.

At the first session, the therapist will provide written information and discuss the therapy and the effects it may have. Relatives will be required to complete a simple health questionnaire and consent form.

Are there any costs involved?

All complementary therapy sessions are free of charge although donations are always welcome as the hospice is a charity and relies principally on donations to run our services.

How are the sessions run?

Therapy sessions can last 15-45 minutes, depending on your health status and are carried out by our team of qualified, experienced therapists. The sessions are offered by appointment (with exception of the In Patient Unit where patients are asked if they would like a session on the day) subject to therapist availability, as the service is primarily provided by volunteer professionals. Not every therapy is available at all locations. If a therapist is not available, on occasion, a simple hand massage may be offered by volunteers who have undertaken appropriate training.

Accessing Complementary Therapy outside the Hospice

Due to demand on our resources it is sometimes necessary to limit the number of sessions offered to patients. If you would like to continue to access complementary therapy in the private sector our Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator will be very happy to advise on how to find a suitably qualified therapist.

The complementary therapy team are constantly looking at ways to increase access to their service for patients and their families in the community. This is still in development, but please ask if you would like to receive complementary therapy at a location near your home and we will do our best to provide it if at all possible. This may not be on a one to one basis, but some group work such as relaxation or seated, clothed therapies may be available.

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