Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Revise - Practical matters - in a health care environment - first aids and health and safety, allegens and the expiry date


Shirley Price Aromatherapists and those working in complementary care are required to take a Health and Safety Executive emergency first aid course at work and keep it current by annual refreshers.  Besides the professional requirements this is an easily obtained and useful lifeskill.   Shirley Price holds its First Aid and refresher course in October each year on the friday before the IFPA conference.  Next year the IFPA conference is in Newcastle.  The training is delivered nationally by Skill Base Training who are based near our offices in Hinckley in Leicestershire.  See a centre near you, here are the Leicestershire courses including those held at the head office in Desford.  You can book an individual course or join us for a class of 12.  Cost is £82.49 plus lunch.


Brief Case study - Your class of 6 therapists graduate.  You have trained for professional aromatherapy and now you are in business with your own aromatherapy practice.  You find you have a particular affinity with for those with learning difficulties.  You are treating a client and after 18 months your clients carer finds something is wrong.  The matter is discussed and your services are dispensed with and another aromatherapist employed.  You receive a verbal complaint.  How should you react? 

As a professional you need to assess the seriousness of the situation.  Ideally seek the advice of a fellow professional you trust such as a classmate or member of your regional IFPA group.  Besides anything else this professional communication will help you with your own confidence which is an often overlooked aspect of complaints and claims. 

Let us put ourselves in the role of the colleague who has been asked to advise you.  The first question must be is there any evidence that any harm has actually been done or is this simply a client or client carer relationship which has ended?  It is very rare that properly used and stored essential oils cause harm but they like any chemical have the potential to cause harm if used inappropriately.

A knowledge of how essential oils might cause harm will not only assist in their safe use but enable you to communicate effectively with your clients carers.  In this particular specialism much use is made of inhalations as less than 20 molecules of oil are necessary for the satisfaction of communication by smell.  Such an inhalation or very dilute massage contains only a tiny dose compared to the toxicity levels recorded in essential oils material safety data sheets.

A knowledge of allegens will also help deal with carers concerns.  Over time these particular components of the oil have the ability to oxidise to harmful allegens. Your essential oil suppliers should supply oil that lists the components which could give rise to possible allegens and their concentrations.  This is more a problem with residues from hygiene products which are scented for example with sythetic aroma chemical than essential oils but essential oils have an expiry date and it is wise to completely respect the date.  After all a bottle of respectable organic lavender is inexpensive.

There certainly was a view that some oils became more effective with age.  However modern thinking is that any such benefit will be outweighed by the risk of the allegens arising.



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