Aromatherapy helps patients feel more at ease during a hospital visit, and more comfortable during medical procedures like chemotherapy.
“People are interested in options that enhance their health without more medical intervention,” says Juliana Sayner, a registered nurse in the Cancer Care & Infusion Center who led the introduction of aromatherapy at Northfield Hospital. “It’s empowering for patients to take an active step in their own care.”
Northfield Hospital began offering aromatherapy to patients in the Cancer Care and Infusion Center last summer. It’s been so well-received that several departments now offer it – from the Emergency Department to the Medical/Surgical floor to the Birth Center.
“It’s a nice way to care for the whole person – a comforting touch in addition to the medical care we provide,” Sayner says.
Aromatherapy uses the essential oils from plants to enhance the body’s functions. Chemotherapy patients are prone to queasiness, sleeplessness, and emotional stress. So Sayner and colleagues focus on scents to ease these conditions. They use aroma blends rather than individual scents, so patients don’t end up associating one scent with an unpleasant symptom.
Patients get a small patch to stick on their clothing fairly close to the face, for light aroma with each breath. The patch is good for eight hours; even after the scent fades, the essential oils are still active. Individually wrapped patches are simple for patients and staff to use – and convenient to take home. (The patches are also sold in the Kaleidoscope Gift Shop in the hospital lobby.)
Most patients (82%) said the patch helped with their symptoms; all patients said they’d use it again.
After all, a small touch can make a big difference.