Monday, 10 October 2011

Aromacare in the Netherlands by Madeleine Knapp Hayes

Special aromatic extracts meet special needs in patients in palliative and end of life care

© Madeleine Knapp Hayes-Wellhüner

In The Netherlands aromatherapy in hospitals and home care, in nursing homes and hospices is widely known as “aromacare”. Dutch physicians are apprehensive about the word “therapy”, because it would imply treatments with the purpose to cure, rather than care. The word aromacare, which I already used as far back as 2001 is more and more used to express what we as nurses do with complementary interventions: to care, rather than treat.

In my 20 years of working with natural medicine and aromatherapy, I have seen and experienced the power of aromatic plants and their extracts to the fullest. In this booklet I will introduce some of the most special extracts to you. But let me first tell you a little bit about myself.


In the late1970’s I started my training to become a nurse. Being from a family of care givers with both my mum and sister being nurses and dad being in health insurance, the step was logical and I was very excited to become a good nurse and take care of the sick, old and dying. I soon found out that all nurses of my year would be laid off, due to cutbacks in health care.
The most important reason however to leave the profession was that I found it hard not to care for the whole person in a more holistic approach. Although I had learnt from my mother and sister that nursing was not all I hoped it would be, having to see patients as diseases rather than persons with physical, emotional and spiritual needs really did me in, so to speak.

I left the hospital and got a job as a pharmacist, mainly to earn a living, but I kept looking around to see how I could put my passion for holistic medicine into practice. Finally, in 1992 I visited the Black Sea Coast, where I met an equally passionate physician who worked at a natural health clinic. People from all over Europe went there to be treated for rheumatic diseases, lung problems and other complaints such as exhaustion. This great woman stimulated me into studying herbalism, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and other effective interventions, such as electrotherapy, working with mud, minerals and other substances to serve as complementary care techniques. I enrolled into courses and master classes. I met inspiring people and spent six rewarding and memorable years there, before returning to The Netherlands.
A few years later, I completed an additional study at the Kneipp School in Bad Wörishofen, Germany, the only school that is accredited by the Kneipp Association. I qualified as a hydrotherapist and learned even more about the possibilities of working with water as complementary intervention, called aquacare.

Quality of living & quality of dying

When I returned to The Netherlands, I started a practice and followed in-depth classes on nutrition to be able to advise patients to the fullest on the right nutrition, complemented by supplements, aromatic treatments, massage and hydrotherapy. In my practice I met many patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, who came to seek additional advice and treatment, whilst being treated by the hospital for their illness. I found it immensely rewarding to see how much stronger and empowered these patients became in their struggle to beat their cancer, or to improve their quality of life with cancer. I also found that my holistic treatments, addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs – just as I dreamed of doing for all those years – not only greatly enhanced quality of life, but also the quality of dying for patients and their families.

As a complementary therapist with a nursing background, it was a logical step to start advising and training home care, hospital, nursing home and hospice staff, who were greatly inspired by the results that were booked with patients in their care. To make a long story short: In the last 20 years I slowly but surely built up De Levensboom as a school for complementary therapies and train health care workers how to work with aromacare, massage, aquacare, relaxation,  guided visualisation, etc.
I am accredited by the Dutch Board of Nursing. This has been an important achievement because it not only meant that the board considered the quality of my school and its programs as being of the high standards they had set, it also meant that complementary care techniques were considered valuable by the board. In The Netherlands we are still in the early stages of accepting complementary techniques into main stream medicine and care.
After meeting Ian Brealey in 2010 he honoured me by asking me to join the teaching team of the Shirley Price International College of Aromatherapy. I am the chair person of the Knowledge Institute of Complementary Care, a body where health care staff can exchange expertise and best practices. I am also a member of the board of the FAROMA Foundation which promotes professional aromatherapy and – care in The Netherlands.
I advise and train staff in home care, hospitals and nursing homes, hospices and palliative care units. I give lectures and advice, write articles and organise conferences on complementary care.
I am specialised in complementary care for the elderly, people with special needs such as Huntington’s disease, Korsakov, cancer and in palliative and end of life care. I also love teaching on skin care and child care.

I work with conventional essential oils, but have also become quite a specialist on the use of CO2 extracts. I would like to introduce you to CO2 extracts and some of the great effects that they have, or have had, on patients with cancer, in palliative and in end of life care.

For the full article kindly see the forthcoming Robert Tisserand Warwick 2012 Weekend Seminar booklet Aromatherapy - treat or treatment?


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