During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer complementary therapies to inpatients and patients attending a pre-booked appointment at the cancer centre. We also offer video and telephone appointments for aromatherapy inhaler stick consultations and to teach relaxation techniques and self-massage. Please note that some of the therapies are only available on certain days. We will ask to see a negative covid test (PCR) result done before your complementary therapy outpatient appointment. 

Complementary therapies may help you to cope with the physical and emotional impact of your illness and the side effects of treatment. They can help to:

  • promote relaxation, enabling your body to rest and repair
  • reduce or manage stress, anxiety, nausea, fatigue or physical tension
  • lift your mood
  • improve your sleep.

We currently offer aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, reiki and relaxation.

Aromatherapy uses blends of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants. They can be blended to suit specific needs, for example to help with nausea, fatigue, anxiety or low mood. Aromatherapy can be combined with gentle massage, even if just a small area of your body is massaged, such as your hands or feet. We can also give you an individual inhaler called an aromastick which you can use at home, in hospital or before or during a medical procedure.

image of the making up of an aromastick

We offer gentle massage with or without the use of oils. The therapist will help you to find the most comfortable position for you to have the massage – this may be lying down, sitting or reclining. You can choose to remove some clothing for a body massage with oils, or to be massaged over your clothes without oils. Both can be very soothing and relaxing.

image of someone having a massage

Reiki can help you feel deeply relaxed and calm. You can either sit or lie down to have reiki. You will be fully clothed during the session. While you relax, the therapist will use gentle touch either on or just above your body. The therapist’s hands will remain still, with no movement or pressure. The peaceful stillness can give you a sense of calm that can benefit your overall wellbeing.

image of someone having reiki

Reflexology is a specialised form of foot, or sometimes hand, massage. The therapist will apply pressure, gentle holds, and stroking techniques to specific points on your feet or hands.

image of someone having reflexology

Relaxation techniques may include body relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, gentle self-care and mindful breathing. The therapist will explain these techniques in more detail and guide you through your chosen technique(s) during the session. Practising relaxation techniques can be helpful if you are feeling stressed or worried, for example before a medical procedure or when you are unable to sleep.

In our self-care and wellbeing education sessions you can learn relaxation techniques or gentle self-massage. You can have the session by yourself, with a family member, partner or friend, or in a group. If you have the session with a friend or family member, they can learn some simple, gentle and safe massage and touch techniques to support your needs. 

Our service is available to adult patients who receive their care for cancer or a blood condition at UCLH and to children and teenagers who are inpatients at UCLH. Please note that we are a small team so there may be a long wait to see one of our therapists or a limit to what we can offer. We don’t offer sessions on a private (paid) basis.

Outpatient appointments

If you are an outpatient, your hospital doctor, nurse, support and information specialist or another healthcare professional can refer you.

The sessions usually take place in our therapy rooms at the Cancer Centre. Our therapists can also visit you in day care and ambulatory care on the second, third and fourth floors of the Cancer Centre.

Inpatient appointments

If you have been admitted to hospital ward, your healthcare team on the ward can refer you for complementary therapy. You will have the complementary therapy session on the ward.

Remote appointments

We teach relaxation techniques and self-massage, and offer consultations for aromatherapy inhaler sticks by phone or video. Your hospital doctor, nurse, support and information specialist, or another healthcare professional can refer you.