Why did I create our accredited oncology massage courses?

training information Dec 04, 2020

Back in 2018, the industry was sent reeling after hearing of a client feeling discriminated against when being turned away from a Centerparcs spa treatment. The wish of those living with and beyond cancer to feel ‘normal’ is the reason I developed our accredited oncology qualifications for spas and individual therapists. It is wrong that this client was not able to enjoy a spa in the same way as others. However the lawyer in me* completely supports Centerparcs in being unable to treat her. At the time of the visit the therapists at Centerparcs did not have specialist training and would not have been insured to work with anyone who had been diagnosed with cancer. For me, whilst insurance is important, and, as we know, compulsory, the maxim ‘first do no harm’ is a better guiding message. Usually, if one is doing no harm, insurance will follow.

In order to work safely and appropriately with cancer patients, already qualified therapists need specialist training. With the right qualification, therapists can do great good. All of the evidence points to improved wellness, physically and emotionally, when someone living with or beyond cancer receives a specialist beauty or holistic therapy. I created our specialist post-graduate diplomas in oncology therapies, many years ago, as I felt the world of beauty needed to change. It was not right that spas and therapists were turning away the people who needed them most, just because there was no training available to allow them to welcome those affected by cancer.

We offer around 16 fully online accredited qualifications ranging from manicure and pedicure to reflexology and oncology massage, as well as theory learning such as Cancer Awareness and a whole host of free informative webinars. 

All courses help the therapist to appreciate the impact of a cancer diagnosis (I know that we can never really understand) as well as covering

  • Hygiene and control of cross infection
  • Appropriate pressure
  • Contraindications – local and general
  • Areas to avoid
  • How to speak with a cancer patient
  • Making a client comfortable
  • Identification and control of hazards to the therapist
  • Record keeping

And gives some background into

  • Cancer
  • Cancer treatment
  • Common side-effects of treatment
  • Medical devices
  • Specialist skincare products for cancer patients
  • Natural ingredients that should not be included in skincare products to be used on those living with and cancer

The fully referenced training aims to allow the therapist to welcome all affected by cancer to their services, safely.

The practical element of all courses varies according to the qualification but all have some common themes

  • The ways in which touch can be adapted to enable you to welcome all to enjoy a treatment, no matter what their condition or concerns
  • The main contraindications to touch for those living with and beyond cancer
  • Emotional impact of diagnosis and treatment
  • Personal impact of a cancer diagnosis
  • The language of cancer, its treatment and how to welcome a client
  • The hygiene standards required when working with cancer patients and how these differ from the standard taught during entry level qualifications
  • Ways in which therapists can look after themselves as well as others, emotionally and physically
  • The products (massage oils, skincare and essential oil blends etc) that can be used
  • Physical adaptations and procedural adaptations
  • Seated oncology treatments
  • Clothed oncology treatments
  • Cancer massage through towels (if appropriate to the qualification)
  • Oncology treatments in a clinical setting
  • The language to use when liaising with an oncology healthcare team
  • The consent process
  • The requirements of the laws in place to protect the client and the therapist
  • The simple steps that can be taken to ensure compliance with relevant legislation
  • Mindful consultation and record keeping
  • A safe and effective oncology treatment routine that can be adapted to be offered to all, no matter what their condition or concern
  • Individual adaptations to the oncology routine
  • Adaptation decision making
  • How to make a client comfortable
  • Aftercare
  • Home care
  • Standardised and recognised methods of collecting data to prove the effectiveness of your oncology therapies

I really feel for every spa client and their disappointment at being turned away. All of those affected by cancer should be welcomed. I know that the industry is changing and more and more professionals are gaining the qualifications needed to work anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis. I hope that, in the face of the media interest, and the fear of being sued for acting in exactly the way we have been taught to behave, we all remember that we can welcome those living with and beyond cancer……..if and only if, one has achieved the appropriate level of specialist qualification. 

*I have a post graduate degree in law and have, on many occasions, been invited by the Courts to advise them as an expert witness. My Legal qualifications and experience are in addition to a first degree in Biology and a second post graduate degree in occupational health and a long history of working in the field of medical research. I am also a qualified massage therapist, aromatherapist, beauty therapist, nutritional therapist and internationally recognised master of wellness.

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