Hi I'm Catherine Wood aka Caty, I started working at Dove House in April 1996. I started as volunteer complementary therapist, one day a week, setting up a brand-new service, initially focused on the expanding day therapy unit at Dove House. I brought in my own aromatherapy oils and had a hospital bed in what is now the Smile Room as my therapy room! I was appointed into the newly formed Coordinator role in August 2004.
During my training in London, I had work experience at the North London Hospice and was immediately drawn to the caring and supportive nature of palliative and hospice care. After leaving London and returning home to East Yorkshire I sought out my local hospice, Dove House, to be able to continue my work in palliative care.
Back in 1996 the calm, homely and caring environment of the Inpatient Unit and the fun and laughter of day therapy immediately felt like a great place to work and that still applies today despite the changes brought on by the pandemic and the changes of staff within the team. I still feel that this is a caring, but never a sad place, to be. Over the years the complementary therapy service grew to meet demand, especially the outpatient clinic which has grown significantly supporting a wide range of people from our local community.
Dove House has a warm, welcoming approach to all who come through its doors and I feel that we really can support people in the ways that matter to them from listening to their favourite music, being cosily wrapped up in their beds in the garden and bringing in their beloved pets, even meeting their sporting heroes towards the end of their lives.
Seeing the smile on a patient’s face when they’ve really benefitted from their therapy session and catching up with colleagues.
I enjoy making bespoke aromatherapy preparations that patients and colleagues can use and take home, empowering them to help themselves, and then hearing that the little pot of cream or beautifully scented aroma inhaler has really made a positive difference for them.
As a therapy team we enjoy meeting up at lunch and talking of the antics of our pets and supporting each other when life is just a little too tough. Oh yes and sharing plants from our gardens!
No two days are alike but after catching up on emails I check my aromatherapy stock and set up my therapy room for my first outpatient session.
One day a week I attend the 9am nurse’s handover, share a handover with the therapy team then head to the inpatient Unit to take any referrals for patients or carers from the nursing and medical teams. Appropriate patients on the Inpatient Unit will have a therapy experience catered to their needs and wishes which may involve gentle hand or foot aroma -massage, reflexology, Reiki or a wonderful mix of all of them! I may set up aromatherapy diffusers on the ward or In Patients’ rooms and sometimes help a family member to gain a few moments of relaxation too. Along with the occupational therapists I offer staff at Dove House ten-minute, lunch time relaxation sessions to help them cope with their day.
I will spend an hour with my Out Patients listening to their highs and lows, discussing appropriate therapy options, supporting them to relax and let go during their session and encouraging their feedback and home self-care afterwards. I regularly make up wellbeing packs to help people being supported in the community, the packs consist of a bespoke aromatherapy inhaler and hypnotherapy relaxation CD plus appropriate wellbeing advice.
My biggest achievements have been developing and integrating the complementary therapy service so that it supports patients, their loved ones and staff too.
I always feel supported by the therapies team especially when things are difficult and taking a few minutes of mindful fresh air in the hospice garden is a great help. I’m fortunate to live in a lovely village and when I get home a walk around the lanes soon soothes me, as does a cup of decaf Yorkshire tea, sky watching in my garden and my darling cat! My late father used to say “this too will pass” and I try to remember that.
The consequences of the pandemic have upturned the future so who knows? but I’d love to be a part of seeing Dove House services expanding again and reaching out to the far corners of East Yorkshire.