Changing the conversation about health

Cwm Taf complementary therapies for older people’s mental health

CoM Tags:

Cwm Taff, older people, mental health

  The Complementary Therapy Service promotes physical, psychological and spiritual well being to service users over 65 within Older Persons Mental Health Services, as well as support to their carers where appropriate.

The Complementary Therapy Service provides a patient needs-led service that provides a harmonious therapy to promote physical, psychological and spiritual well being to service users within Older Persons Mental Health Services (over the age of 65years, who suffer with multiple mental health and physical and their carers, if appropriate).

The aims of the service are:

  • To provide a holistic approach, including to attend to medical, psychological and spiritual aspects of life.
  • To enhance person centered care philosophy by understanding and supporting the individual. 
  • To enable people to lead a meaningful life where symptoms persist. 
  • A genuinely person centered approach involves care planning and treatments that are specific to the person. 
  • To foster dignity, empowerment and choice, quality of life and general well being of individuals 
  • To encourage carer involvement where possible to assist in their loved one’s wellbeing while they are in hospital. 
  • To offer service users a choice of complementary therapies in conjunction with conventional medicine 
  • To provide support to the therapeutic support to carers through Complementary Therapies Therapy sessions offered include Complementary Therapy Wellbeing Sessions, Aromatherapy, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology and Massage-incorporating postural exercises. This provides holistic therapeutic interventions for the service users on an individual/group or Carer/Client session.
Year established
Number of staff
1 part time member of staff
Number of users
Is there a charge to users?
No charges
What makes your project sustainable?
  • networking with professional and voluntary groups locally. 
  • involvement in collaborative projects with colleagues from Nursing, Psychology, University of Glamorgan and the Alzheimer’s Society in well being initiatives to enhance a person’s experience of wellbeing.
  • producing overarching Trust Operational policy and procedure for the use and practice of Complementary Therapies to service users
  • promoting and raising awareness through local events such as World Mental Health Day, Staff and Well Being Events, Carers Days, Patient, Carers and Staff awareness sessions
  • liaising with other professional within the organisation: i.e. Tissue Viability, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Psychology Devising specific Complementary Therapy 
  • documentation which is robust and carrying out clinical audits to service delivery
  • being responsible as a clinician in continuing professional development in order to deliver an effective service
The Complementary Therapy Service within Cwm Taf Local Health Board is a new venture which is innovative in holistic health. Funding and resourcing the service has always been a constant battle, where hours have been allocated from an accumulation of shortfall hours and a small budget, however the Mental Health Senior Management “forward thinking” enabling and nourishing support for the service. The Complementary Therapy service has brought about a change in organisational culture due to management, staff, carers and patients enabling this service to exist within a medical model of care through creativity. The service is now extending to various medical wards through projects such as Falls Prevention, Stress Awareness and Health and Wellbeing. Therefore, there is a stronger communication link between Mental Health and General/Acute Medicine through the Complementary Therapy Service.Vision of Service: The Complementary Therapy Service provides a patient needs-led service that provides a harmonious therapy to promote physical, psychological and spiritual well being to service users within Older Persons Mental Health Services (over the age of 65years, who suffer with multiple mental health and physical and their carers, if appropriate). We listen to the person when they express what they want for their care. By asking the person their opinion we ensure their care is specific and individual. This also respects them as an individual by maintaining their dignity.  If a person is unable to express their opinions, a multi team and carer meeting is held to discuss an approach that is in their best interests.
The demographic area of the service users covers the whole of the North and South areas of the Valleys, which are: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff. This is a high area of health needs: mental physical, with social deprivation.
Patient centred, whole person preventative approach
We are in the process of:

  • Developing foundations for evaluations for the service with the Psychology Department. 
  • Using specific treatment plans tailored to the individual
  • Incorporating various nursing clinical observations 
  • Gathering evaluation forms from patients (where possible), staff and carers


Evidence informed/audit and evaluation
The Complementary Therapy service is fully integrated into Care Programmed Approach which is a framework of care for people with mental health issues, which attempts to meet their needs holistically, working from a multi team approach.The Complementary Therapist is part of intergral multi-disciplinary team, where she attends regular meetings, feedback to staff on the wards and liases with various professionals. The Complementary Therapist also links with various charities and unions to incorporate into the health and well being aspect of patient care such as: The Mental Health Foundation, The Alzheimer’s Society, Unison etc, which is incorporated into the multi-agency philosophy of working within person centered care.
Quotes from users
Carer statements:“I always know when my husband has received his therapy; he is more relaxed when I visit him”. “Lovely and calming” “My mother smells lovely after Debbie has given her an aromatherapy bath” “My Nanny’s hands smell like oranges” “I feel so relaxed after my session and don’t feel so anxious” “My brother has been so agitated I know when he has his sessions with Debbie he’s much calmer”Staff:“The nice smells and calming music make the ward a nicer place to work” “It makes us feel relaxed as well and creates a more calming environment” “Its nice for the patients to receive something relaxing” “A hand massage is the most basic of human touch, it is lovely for the patients to experience this”
Contact details
Cwm Taf Local Health Board
Complementary THERAPY Service For Older Persons Mental Health
Ward 35,
Mental Health,
Prince Charles Hospital,
Gurnos Road,
Merthyr Tydfil,
CF47 9DTt: 07581362136 01685 721721w: