Changing the conversation about health

George Eliot Hospital Maternity Unit

CoM Tags:

aromatherapy, maternity, women, integrated health, hospital, College of Medicine, George Eliot maternity

 george_eliot_pregnant_massage Aromatherapy was introduced into the maternity unit at the George Eliot hospital to embrace its philosophy of normal midwifery care and as a tool for aiding childbirth. From 2013, the project has extended across the hospital.Aromatherapy is now a mainstream service within maternity embracing its philosophy of normality and a tool for aiding childbirth.

Its qualities for relaxation and reduction of anxiety in labour and post birth attracted a new project to develop alongside it; the ‘Oasis Relaxation Project’ The aim has been to create spaces in the Chaplaincy Centre initially with other areas developing across the whole hospital. These spaces have an ambience of calm and relaxation where clients are taught/experience strategies and involves also the use of aromatherapy and colour aiming to help them learn to relax, reduce stress and anxieties that they may have for upcoming/present events, aid recovery and potentially reduce further stress related illnesses.

Year established
May 2000, Oasis Project: January 2013
Number of staff
 Work on the aromatherapy for maternity project is inherent in job descriptions across the unit.  The Oasis project has 30 volunteers.
Number of users
2 – 3,000 predicted across both projects
Is there a charge to users?
For Oasis Project clients welcome to give a donation if they wish otherwise free to all.
What makes your project sustainable?
Sustainability of any project in this climate is always challenging, having started with the aromatherapy project in maternity which has now been running for over 14 years. I have experience of searching and securing funds and then putting forward a business case to the trust board to maintain it financially, which it now does.For the new project which encompasses the whole of the trust including some staff members, initially there will be fundraising and events to ‘get the project rolling’ and then presenting evidence of efficacy to endeavor to integrate this project into mainstream care. It is a low cost service and its simplicity makes it unique as it takes us back to basic care and environmentally the impact again is low.
User demographics
Clients accessing both services come from all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds, the only users who would not be suitable for particularly the Oasis Project will be those with mental health issues, although these clients would be offered another pathway if they choose.
The George Eliot maternity unit aromatherapy service is now in its 14th year of providing tools for women to use in their childbirth journey, because of this experience we were approached by the chaplaincy department after a comment in the prayer book in the chapel about it being an ‘oasis of calm’ from this developed a focus group to see what could be developed to embrace this concept, not only using aromatherapy but also the other senses of vision(colour therapy), hearing (music and clients own body rhythms), touch (aromatherapy hand massage), smell (aromatherapy) and breathing, relaxation and visualization.It is innovative in offering time to deal with anxieties and stresses that invade thoughts when faced with accessing medical/surgical care or just generally entering a hospital environment, it gives the time to express those concerns and ‘someone to listen’ in an effort to help deal with and give ‘self-care’. It gives some ‘life skills’ to take away that hopefully will help people through their experience but also give tools to deal with any other situation that may crop up causing anxiety.

The challenges are fostering change amongst healthcare professionals in all departments of the hospital whose time is stretched and just aim ‘to get through the day’ enabling them to think about the person behind the condition, pick up cues and offer ‘more’ and also to get them thinking of what they themselves would want if anxious or stressed.

We have been asked to include staff members in the service as part of the trusts approach to staff wellbeing. The addition of the Oasis project enhances the service that already exists in maternity and widens it out across all disciplines.

The trust also has introduced another potential ‘oasis’ which is in maternity grounds with the recreation of a ‘herb garden’ in a planter (made by prisoners from Rye Hill Prison) in the shape of the ‘Fleur de Lys’ our town insignia. It is hoped that these herbs will be used within the hospital, the herbs were donated by local people and garden centres. It is maintained by volunteers, and also is a place to sit and enjoy.

Patient-centred, whole person, preventative approach
Our Maternity aromatherapy service, gives choices in childbirth and control over the process, involves birth partners in their care.The Oasis Project helps patient and staff members address stress related problems with simple techniques and advice in the attempt to rebalance any dis-ease of the body that is impacting on the health and wellbeing and recovery of themselves and impacts on the family dynamics as well.
Evidence-informed practice, audit and evaluation
There are trust ratified guidelines for both services which are reviewed every 3 years or sooner if a need arises.The Maternity Aromatherapy service was audited and the results published in Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal in August 2005, an article was placed in MIDIRS Midwifery Digest in September 2010- a reflective piece to tell of the journey, challenges and successes.

The Oasis Project has completed the pilot stage, results show that it is a valuable service that is giving the basic things like time and the opportunity to listen to worries and anxieties and the aromatherapy blends are proving very popular for the hand massage for patients and their carers and also staff members. The data has been analysed has been written and submitted for publication. Some adjustments have been made in response to data and information received.

Multi-disciplinary collaboration, communication and professional practice
The teams involved in both projects are from within the chaplaincy department, midwifery, nursing, management, therapists and volunteers. We have liaison with the psychology department, governance department, communications department, audit department and training support.There are also outside agencies who supply the aromatherapy products and supporting organisation’s who help to raise funds.

We have regular meetings as a group to discuss progress and the way forward with all of the above, supervision sessions with the psychology department and attend staff wellbeing events and trust public events to promote work in both projects.

The project has the support of the Chairman, Chief Executive and Director of Nursing and Midwifery and many staff members.

We have had interest and study tours from overseas visit the hospital to learn of our work and how it can be replicated. I have spoken and presented our work at conferences in the UK and overseas.

Contact details
1st Floor Maternity
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
College St
CV10 7DJ
t: 07716305405/02476865046