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Posted by: Lisa Marie Stirling, 4 Jul 2017 8:22PM
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Complementary therapies on clients with special needs

Hi Has anyone treated a client with special needs? Do you have to complete a separate course before performing a treatment on a client with special need's or adapt the treatment. I have seen some courses on-line, however as I've already completed body massage, Indian head massage, aromatherapy and reflexology and wondering if I would need to complete another course or simply adapt the treatment. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


Linda Morrissey
4 Jul 2017 8:41PM

What is the nature of the "special needs" ? How old are they ? Are the special needs sufficient that they need an adult or carer present, do you need to ask the Gp ? Where will your therapy session take place ? I think I would need a bit more info - before I can suggest anything ...... You will need to take a careful note of your consultation forms, and how they were before, during and after the session ......
Maureen Abson
4 Jul 2017 9:16PM

Yes I'd agree, you would need to know any specifics for that condition, contraindications, different approaches, medication etc. That could b reasearchable rather than a specific course and with their medical or care team. Depending on their age and the nature of the special need there could be safeguarding issues in terms of working with a child (easier to address with a parent present) or vulnerable adult and working out how you would protect both the client and yourself. Happy to comment again if you can fill in some details.
Shelley Foster
4 Jul 2017 10:48PM

A few years ago I was approached by a care home of adults with varying learning disabilities. I had been a therapist for some time but had never worked with this client group. I went to the home a few times to meet all the residents and talked to their individual careworkers about their issues. My main concern was concent as some of the residents were none verbal. I wasn't left alone at first; more for my ease than any concerns the home had but gradually, both the residents and myself just got used to what we were doing. You really have to adapt your massage. Some were lying down, others in a chair or wheelchair. One lady liked to lay on the sofa. Can really do your back in so be careful!! There was a lot of just holding the limb/muscle and just be very gentle. I didn't have any extra training; and I only stopped when I had my little boy. Would definitely like to go back doing something with them again. The 1st lady who commmented made some really good points and can't think of anything else to add. Let us know how you get on! Shelley
Sue Hulbert
9 Jul 2017 12:12PM

Back in the 80s, I used to work in a Day Centre for Adults with L/D. We were trained by a local company to give hand and foot massage to Adults with Severe Learning & Physical Disabilities. The permission to massage the Clients was given by their Parent or Guardian. The majority of the adults I massaged were non-verbal & really benefited from the treatments, as did their Carers. Since going on to qualify in Holistic Massage with the CThA in 2005, my Clients are varied including those with varying Special Needs. If you are in any doubt about asking permission, I would suggest you gain that from the Carer. Or you could contact SNAPPY, PACT or other organisations who work with people with special needs. Whatever you decide, to work with those with special needs is very rewarding. You'll find that people without speech will respond in different ways. I hope this helps, please feel free to contact me if you need further help. Sue Hulbert C20071
Lisa Marie Stirling
26 Jul 2017 8:01PM

Thank you everyone for your comments. At the moment, I am researching the idea to work with people with disabilities as well as their carers or guardians. I have been working with Quarriers as a support worker and the potential clients I have in mind have different issues such as cerebal palsy as well as other issues. I know that due to the medication they are on they will have to ask for GP permission. Due to the varying health issues the potential clients have I was thinking of adapting each treatment to the individual as not everyone would maybe be able to lie on their stomach. Some of the clients already receive aromatherapy but on their arms, legs and feet only. I know I will have to risk assess for each client as not every client will have an adjustable profile bed allowing me to easily access them possibly putting myself at risk. I want to make sure I am covered properly when it comes to health and safety and insurance and at this stage I'm guessing an adapted therapy would be my option. Thanks Lisa
Roger Douglas Low
7 Apr 2018 5:24PM

I'm sorry to be so late with my response. I have worked for over 40 years with a wide range of special needs clients and still do. Having read the responses I think they're all useful. My comment is that do your research on their conditions as far as you can and explain to the carer/s what you can do. Don't be scared the body is pretty tough! but do tread carefully at first. I remember a lady with severe osteoarthritis whom nobody would treat, she was desperate for some relief, which I offered and over a period of several weeks my pressure increased on her and she is still alive with no broken bones! So you can help and increase your experience. It's very rewarding even if you don't get a response. I think you can get on a course but I learned from experience, a much better way if you're well trained already. Good Luck, Roger Low
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