Here at Pilgrims Hospices, we know that fatigue is a difficult symptom for so many of our patients. It can be increasingly challenging for carers at Christmas too, when there are extra demands on your time.
The Occupational Therapy team offer a few tips to help you make the most of the season, and manage your energy levels.
Tips for family get-togethers
Try to limit excessive travel; where possible, meet locally
Consider meeting friends at a restaurant or other gathering place so you don’t have the added strain of hosting
If you’re doing the entertaining, ask for set-up and clean-up help
Try to take a nap before any gathering that will go into the evening hours
Don’t plan events back to back; try to think of your energy levels like a battery, give yourself days off and time to recharge
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready
If you’re spending time at someone else’s house, ask in advance if you could have a nap in the afternoon; if this isn’t possible, try to take 10 minutes out where you can complete a quick mindfulness exercise to recharge your batteries. You might like to follow some of these on our Virtual Therapy Centre YouTube channel.
Tips for meal prep
Spread the responsibilities around the family or group; have people volunteer to make a specific dish so that the host isn’t saddled with the entire meal
Prepare some dishes ahead of time, if possible
Use tools to save you time and effort e.g. mixers, a microwave, and the slow cooker
Keep a stool or extra chair in the kitchen so you can take breaks during cooking time; a higher stool can be pulled up directly to the stovetop for stirring pots, or to the sink to wash dishes
Perform prep tasks seated at table, if possible
A rotisserie chicken can be substituted for making a full turkey
Consider using pre-prepared veg and potatoes
Remember the 5 Ps
Prioritise What is most important to you; what’s going to bring you joy? What can be left or given to someone else?
Plan Think about all the tasks you need to do and plan how to spread them out, with rests built in. Be guided by your daily pattern of fatigue; if you have more energy in the morning, try to plan more tiring tasks then. Gather and organise all items before an activity (e.g. dressing), then take a short rest before you begin. Avoid activity for one hour after meals.
Pace Take regular breaks; if you stop to rest before you are exhausted, you’ll be able to continue or restart the activity and carry on for longer. Maintain a steady pace and don’t rush.
PostureSit instead of standing e.g. whilst showering, dressing, washing up. Consider small aids/equipment for use during daily tasks e.g. a perching stool, shower stool, long-handled aids like “helping hands” (grabbers). Consider using a mobility aid, such as a Zimmer frame or three-wheeled walker (ask a physiotherapist for advice).
Permission Give yourself permission to ask others for help; if you get support with routine tasks, you might have more energy for enjoyable activities.
Most importantly, give yourself permission to relax and enjoy yourself, and remember that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect – good enough is good enough!
If you’re living with a life-limiting illness and would like advice and support with your fatigue, please ask your healthcare provider to refer you to Pilgrims’ Occupational Therapy team; click here to find out more.
Pilgrims Hospices cares for thousands of local people each year, free of charge, during the most challenging time in their lives. They offer care and support in people’s own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.
26th October 2021
Julie puts her best foot forward for Pilgrims every day
Occupational Therapy is an essential component of the care and services provided by Pilgrims Hospices. Julie Cox is an Occupational Therapist based in the Thanet hospice, with a career in social services spanning over two decades, she’s dedicated her skills to the hospices for the past six years.
Her role as a Palliative Specialist Occupational Therapist has supported hundreds of patients with their personalised practical, psychological and emotional needs of people approaching end of life.
Julie said: “My role at Pilgrims is always interesting; I support patients on the ward and out in the community. Applying my skills to meet each individual’s needs can be really rewarding. Whether it is providing the correct piece of equipment to allow someone to get home or improve their independence, encouraging patients to continue to do the things that are important to them or, to give them support to manage symptoms, it’s a unique place of work.”
She added: “It’s been a difficult and challenging 18 months for the team at Pilgrims Hospices. For my own wellbeing, I love to be outside and I have enjoyed taking on some interesting fundraising challenges this year. It’s been fun, keeping me fit and also helped with fundraising for Pilgrims.”
Julie took part in the Canterbury Half Marathon in August, she explained: “The runners pass close to where I live in Canterbury, and I’ve been cheering them along for around 20 years now! I was never a runner up until around 10 years ago when I thought I would give it a go. I’m pleased I did the Canterbury Half, it was a challenge but so rewarding to have completed it.”
Julie has just completed the virtual London Marathon. Along with her running, Julie has taken on the Pilgrims Cycle Challenge over the years. Doing the 55k Pilgrims Way Challenge walk was the hardest one of all and there was a real sense of achievement arriving at Dover Castle after a long day walking.
Well done Julie for being a superstar fundraiser and one of our extremely valued hospice team.
Pilgrims palliative specialist occupational therapy offers personalised support for social, practical and emotional needs of people approaching end of life.
It enables people and their families to live independently and maintain meaningful occupations in accordance with their preferences for as long as they are able.
Occupational Therapy aims to bring purpose and meaning to a person’s life by promoting independence, choice, dignity and quality of life. Occupational Therapists work with patients and those important to them, together with the multidisciplinary team, to identify priorities and goals. Pilgrims Hospices’ Occupational Therapists work with people in the hospice, in their own homes or via the virtual Therapy Centre.
If you are interested in working for Pilgrims Hospices, click here for more information on available opportunities: pilgrimshospices.org/jobs
Pilgrims Hospices cares for more than 2,500 local people each year, free of charge, during the most challenging time in their lives. They offer care and support in people’s own homes, in the community and in their inpatient units as well as running a 24-hour advice line.
22nd December 2020
Festive occupational therapy at Pilgrims
Occupational therapy plays its part within the diverse range of services offered by Pilgrims Hospices. Helping people to live well in every moment is important to everyone at the hospices. The OT team has been helping patients on the wards to get creative and make some beautiful festive cards and angel decorations.
Della Green, Pilgrims Occupational Therapy Assistant explained: “My colleague Kristy Wells, OT Assistant at our Thanet Hospice, had the lovely idea of making up Christmas craft packs for patients to do whilst on our In-patient Units (IPU). We are always looking at ways to expand the range of therapeutic activities provided on our IPU’s across our sites in order to offer our patients the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities.”
We are able to adapt the activities in order to meet the various needs of our patients.
Della – Pilgrims
The team looked through the art supplies in the Wellbeing and OT departments and designed some Christmas card and angel decoration packs. They compiled some coloured instructions for the patients (and staff) on how to assemble the items. The kits were then put together in individually sealed plastic pockets in order to meet infection control guidelines. The packs can be completed in bed or at a table, are not energy intensive and are suitable for ladies or gentlemen of all ages. We use easily accessible resources enabling patients to continue their crafting ideas if returning home.
Della continued: “We are able to adapt the activities in order to meet the various needs of our patients. The lovely things about the selection of packs are that they are graded so anyone can have a go, regardless of age or diagnosis. We planned the craft activities to enable our patients to have the opportunity to bring meaning and fun with the added bonus of a beautiful end product to give to family or friends. We can all learn new skills and enjoy new experiences whatever our age or ability and some patients have pleasantly surprised themselves, with many not having partaken in art or craft previously.
“It has been shown that taking part in arts and crafts helps aid relaxation and therefore assists in relieving symptoms such as anxiety and pain, which is particularly important with our patients.
“The feedback from patients has been very positive and whilst doing the activities patients have really enjoyed reminiscing, story-telling about family traditions, chatting about family and childhood memories. It has also encouraged conversation between patients and taking part in the craft activities is often a great icebreaker. Patients who may have been reluctant to have a go at making something have enjoyed their sessions so much, that they have asked to make another card or angel.”
Kristy, Pilgrims OT Assistant added: “When I used the first Christmas card making kit with a patient on our IPU, she thoroughly enjoyed the craft session as she was very into crafts at home. Not only was she pleased with the finished card, but she said that she would be sending it on to an elderly friend who lives in a nursing home and who also enjoys crafting. So two people have had pleasure from the experience.
“As patients are enjoying our Christmas kits so much, we are hoping to carry on the activities at Easter and other times during the year. Making the Christmas cards and decorations for family and friends is such a meaningful activity, especially at this time of year.”
Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.
15th December 2020
Virtual reality appeal raises thousands for Pilgrims Hospices
Thanks to the efforts of our community of supporters, Pilgrims Hospices raised £14,874.72 for our Virtual Reality appeal.
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology accessed through a headset and headphones, which immerses someone within a 3D and 360-degree video to give them a sense of being physically present in that environment.
For example, through VR, someone could experience diving in the Great Barrier Reef or relaxing on a tropical beach.
Improving quality of life
The latest trials of virtual reality within a healthcare setting have shown an improvement in the quality of life for terminally ill patients by helping ease their anxiety, breathlessness, fatigue, and even reducing pain.
Through our Immerse Your Senses Appeal, we raised enough money to introduce a VR system at each of our hospices in Canterbury, Thanet and Ashford.
The system was used across all of our healthcare and wellbeing settings, including our Therapy Centres, in-patient units, and even in people’s homes, which benefitted a wide range of our patients.
Ann Morris attended our Therapy Centre at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet, where she benefitted from the VR technology we offered for hospice patients.
What made this VR system particularly special is that it included its own camera so we could record and personalise the experiences we offered to our patients, whether that was a local place they were particularly fond of, or a special occasion they were unable to attend.
In this way, someone who was used to walking their dog along a beach but hadn’t been able to more recently, could once again experience this through virtual reality at Pilgrims.
Due to the simplicity of the system, we were even able to train our patients’ families to record and deliver these magical moments for their loved ones.
This sort of bespoke experience enabled our patients to escape the boundaries of their illness and enjoy treasured moments once again.
Thanks to the generous support of our local community, we were able to provide this incredible technology on each of our sites for two years.
Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to thousands of people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.