Active LightWorks is a charity passionate about improving the lives of people in Brighton & Hove who can benefit from a range of complementary therapies. We work with experienced qualified practitioners to provide low cost and free access to therapies, both in hospitals and the local community. Here’s how our projects support this.
The Royal Alexander Childrens Hospital
Having medical treatment in hospital whatever your age can be a stressful and scary experience. Complementary therapies can help to relax and sooth patients during treatment and often ease symptoms.
The majority of the treatments were for the patients in the High Dependency Unit however we also provide treatments for the parents/relatives and staff. If there is time, we also visit the Surgical and Medical wards, particularly where children are based there long term.
In 2018 we had carried out 1152 treatments for children, parents/relatives and staff mostly in the High Dependency unit (HDU) of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, (over 469 hours). Of those 1153 treatments in 2018, 871 (75.5%) were the children who were patients at the hospital. 240 of the treatments have been for relatives or carers (21%) of the child in hospital (75% - 180) of which were mums, 13% (31) were dads and the rest 12% (29) were siblings or grandparents or occasionally carers. The remaining 42 treatments were for staff.
We continue to be grateful to the Rockinghorse Children's Charity for funding this project. The funding has helped us provide a stable staffing base and the ability for us to give more treatments compared to what was feasible when the project was being staffed by volunteers.
We get smiles, good eye contact, and the children seem happier at the end of a treatment even waving goodbye to us. We find that during or after treatments there can be an improvement in heart rate and breathing, the child’s colour, more secretions of for example catarrh or bowel activity. With young children it is difficult to identify if the treatment has helped with pain or discomfort. However, we do notice that the children can become more comfortable and this may be an indication that pain has been eased during treatment.
Another indication that Reiki helps with discomfort is the calming effect it has while a procedure is being carried out. If it is appropriate or requested we do carry out treatments while procedures such as blood samples are being carried out. It isn’t always the case, as these things are very upsetting for the children, but we do notice that they can be calmer or less reactive if a Reiki treatment is being carried out while the procedure is taking place.
The majority of the children we treat are babies or under 5. However around 4% of our treatments in the second half of 2018 were for teenagers. Often these patients are in for injuries or have complex needs, however there have been a few occasions when we’ve treated troubled teenagers (eating disorders, self harming, attempted suicide). The Reiki treatments in these cases have seemed to help them relax, calm and in one case encouraged eating. Not every child wants to receive Reiki and the therapists are sensitive to this, even with the very young children.
Treating the children - Observations from Treatments
The most commonly reported observation of children during after a treatment is that they relax and or become calm. Often the children fall asleep, if they don’t fall asleep there can be lots of yawns, they might experience a reduction in pain. Their breathing may deepen or if they are already asleep they fall into a deeper sleep.
Our poster in the hospital.
Mother "Yes please, it made such a difference last time." ( On being asked if she wanted a treatment for her child)
Child "Feels really nice - definitely more relaxed there."
Child "Wow, I can feel myself relaxing - it's weird!"
Mother about the effect of a Reiki treatment on her child - "Not himself today - you calm him down."
Parent on the effect of a treatment on their child - "You certainly calmed her down”
Parent "A really great service both my son and myself really benefit from."
“I opted to have this treatment given to my daughter in order to allow her to have some positive experience of people coming to her bedside. She is 9 months old and has had to have a wide variety of tests done during her short life. She is now able to recognize the Reiki therapists and is always happy to see them."
“5 minutes from the end of the treatment his parents started saying they could not believe what was happening, his colour came back, he was chatting, smiling and asking to eat! They said I brought him back to himself.”
"After a treatment a child was noticed placing her hands on her toy when the therapist gently asked her what she was doing she replied “I am giving her a sandwich of Love, just like you did to me.”
From a parents perspective.
Having a child in hospital is such a traumatic event for parents . Post Paediatric Critical Care admission the incidence of Post-traumatic Stress symptoms in parents has been measured to be 50%. (Colville G., Pierce C. Intensive Care Med 2012; 38:1523–1531 DOI 10.1007/s00134-012-2612-2). Currently the Royal Alexandra has very limited ways to address this. The cost to society of unmanaged parental Anxiety & Depression is very significant.
However, therapists often notice during treatment that parents do relax, sometimes fall asleep and feel relief from stress, tension and anxiety. They are often surprised and grateful that such a service is available whilst their child is undergoing hospital treatment. For parents with children who are in and out of hospital it is extra support. It is also something many of them benefit from during their stays, which may not be available to them outside of the hospital.
Parents are happy to give therapists feedback about the treatments and here are just a few of the positive comments the project has received:
Parent - “My son has received Reiki quite a few times when he's been in hospital and the results are amazing. Every time he has Reiki it completely relaxes him and he falls asleep. I am going to look into him having Reiki at home as I am so impressed with how he responds to it.”
Mother on being asked if she wanted a treatment for her child "Yes please, it made such a difference last time
Mother - "I don’t know what you did to my back but the pain went away totally and it still (3 days later) feels better"
Parent - “It provided a space of calm and a moment of peace in an otherwise stressful place. Thank you. I had a great night’s sleep - which was much needed and I thought impossible in hospital.”
Parent - “Thank you so much for help at a time when we most needed it and least expected it!”
Child - "feels really nice - definitely more relaxed there"
Parent - "A really great service both my son and myself really benefit from."
Treating the staff
Staff don’t have much time to spare to be able to have Reiki treatments however, we do treat some staff and student Doctors. They too report feeling more relaxed, ease from pain and discomfort and clearer in their thinking. Reports from Staff (July-December 2018) after treatments:
Student Doctor "Weird, I felt heat and really relaxed" he recommended his colleagues try.
Admin staff. Later on she reported back saying the she had no more pain.
Nursing staff “Very relaxing.”
Nursing staff. She said her mind never, ever stops thinking but throughout Reiki she did not have a thought.
Student Doctor. She commented on my warm hands and on how incredible it is to have this service at the hospital.
In the community
Since Active LightWorks started in 2006 we have worked with many community organisations in Brighton & Hove’s Community Voluntary Sector: Mind, Rise, Brighton Women’s Centre, The Stroke Association, The ClockTower Sanctuary, Spin, WHINN, The Bridge Education and Community Centre, Dementia Together, Amaze, and the Carers Centre.
In our community projects we focus on people with chronic health issues. Our aim is to make complementary therapy as accessible as possible and we do this in the following ways:
We offer very low cost sessions, charging between £3 and £6 for a 30 mins session
We come to you… we work in partnership with community groups and where possible we bring our therapists to the group. We run our projects in a venue attended by the group and we will bring massage couches, chairs, massage oils etc. This makes it easier for our clients as they don’t have to travel to a clinic space to have the therapy.
Between January 2013 and January 2014 we gave 550 hours of massage therapy to approximately 460 people.
De Café - Bevendean and The Level
In 2016 we carried out a project in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society in which ALW therapists give 'light touch' massage to dementia sufferers and their carers in two Dementia Cafés in Bevendean and The Level.
These monthly cafés are were run by the Alzheimer’s Society and are a safe and supportive space where people with dementia and their carers can meet and take some time to relax. Light touch massage can be very beneficial and help to ease the agitation and anxiety often experienced by those with dementia. These sessions can also help to bring greater sense of well-being and also help to reduce stress levels in both people with dementia and their carers.
At each café we offered massage of the hands, shoulder or head and on a monthly basis we give sessions to between 16 and 20 people.
We will also be running workshops to teach carers simple massage techniques to use with their dependents. This way of communicating through touch can be a very powerful way of connecting with the person receiving the massage.