By Jan Beattie
Have you ever gone along to something for “just one meeting” and found it develop into something else ?
I did in 2002 and it led into one of the most demanding, scary, challenging , varied and rewarding experiences of my life.
However from this “one meeting “ grew The Lavender Touch, a charity in the Scottish Borders which supports people and their families across the region who have cancer.
The Lavender Touch is quite unique and an example of partnership working between the NHS, the voluntary sector, the local community, patients and carers.
The charity initially provided complementary therapies for those diagnosed with cancer via referrals received from healthcare professionals. However in good partnership working style , took on board feedback from service users and quite quickly expanded to support cares who are vital to the individual’s care.
All treatments are very person centred in that they are arranged in a venue, location and frequency to suit and fit in with other demands of each persons life at this time. e.g. some people prefer to attend during their chemotherapy and others when it has finished. When working with a family where a person is receiving end of life care, it is not unusual for carers to request to “save “ a treatment for after their loved one has passed away. They find that having one of The Lavender Touch therapists visit several months later of great benefit.
We have constantly monitored and evaluated our service, feedback has constantly shown that over 99% of those who use our service say they find it of benefit.
Laterally following on from requests we have developed sleepwear and skin products based on the information and knowledge gathered over the past 14 years.
The sleepwear was developed by a previous service user who had experienced cold night sweats and vividly describes getting up for the third time during the night to change bed linen but being unable to see due the sweat dripping into her eyes as she had no eyebrows or hai because of the essential chemotherapy she needed. Pauline has a background in textiles and used her experience and knowledge to create a product which has transformed the lives of some people.
The Essential and Therapeutic range of products came about following on from many requests by people who had experienced the benefits of the varying blends the Lavender Touch therapists had been providing.
Being involved with the charity has certainly at times provided new experiences and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have done radio broadcasts, judged jam making competitions, challenged the rules of what is the norm, drawn more raffles than I care to count, run a half marathon, listened to so many personal stories of despair and triumph and hugged Tinky Winky at one of the venues who took part in in our wear Lavender to Work day
As an AHP in my day job I am often asked where the link is …. AHPs take a holistic approach to care, are resourceful, manage risk, are great problem solvers and very innovative. The Lavender Touch has developed using all of these qualities and we continue to do so.
However the main key to its success is the partnership working with those who have lived experience and the local communities