Complementary health and healthcare encompasses a wide range of practices including reflexology, aromatherapy and therapeutic massage that are often used alongside or as an alternative to conventional medicine.
Many of these therapies, which are not typically included in Western medical training, have not been adopted into mainstream healthcare because of social, cultural or economic reasons (sadly, although some alternative therapies are available on the NHS, budgets cannot stretch much beyond conventional care and their availability is limited).
Quality of Life…
Common uses of complementary healthcare include improving quality of life for those living with chronic conditions. Working alongside conventional medicine, complementary healthcare methods are used to help support the body’s natural protection and self-healing mechanisms, to ease or alter pain, or to support patients through periods of anxiety and fear.
People with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, mental health problems (i.e. mild depression and anxiety), weight problems, musculoskeletal problems, or a history of substance misuse (including alcohol and drugs), can be greatly supported using complementary therapies.
Complementary therapies help to empower an individual to manage and cope with their condition and its associated symptoms. Some therapies also help to prevent conditions developing in the first place, or symptoms from escalating.
Natural Medicine Boom!
Of course, complementary medicines and therapies aren’t new, so why are they rocketing in popularity – and why now? Mainly because people want an alternative and natural approach to their healthcare.
We want an alternative to just a long-term course of a medicine known to have adverse consequences, if other approaches might limit the need or reduce the harm. There’s a calling for alternatives to medicines and decision-making processes that exclude other licensed practitioners – chiropractors, acupuncturists, integrative doctors, osteopaths, holistic nurses, massage and yoga therapists – as it has become clear that millions of people are benefiting from these services every single day. Right now.
There’s a new dawn in healthcare driven by the consumer who desire an alternative that focusses on health, wellbeing and healing which is shrinking the interest in conventional medicine which typically starts with medicines and invasive measures and fails to put personal engagement, lifestyle choices and holistic wellness front and centre.
Consumers are tired of long waiting times to see a GP and longer waiting times to get referred to a consultant and there’s an awakening and awareness to the lack of training that doctors and other health professionals receive for respected roles such as nutrition, self-care, mindfulness, sleep, movement, environment and community all of which are part of the science of supporting individuals towards better health.
Complementary Health & Holistic Employers
Complementary healthcare meets these needs, which is why so many people are taking their health and wellbeing into their own hands and exploring and embracing a natural form a therapy and healthcare that they feel intuitively drawn too.
The role these wellness therapies can play is increasingly being recognised in the workplace too: the corporate world is integrating complementary healthcare as employers are finding new ways to keep staff happy, healthy and committed.
We spend a lot of time at work and for the majority of people this time is spent at a desk, this is unhealthy. An estimated 1.2 million people in the UK suffered from a condition they believed was caused or made worse by work between 2016 and 2017.
Around 80% of the new work-related conditions were musculoskeletal disorders or stress, depression or anxiety. The direct costs of employee absence to the economy are estimated at more than £14 billion per year according to the CBI.
People are increasingly struggling with workloads, ‘always on’ work cultures and juggling childcare, leading to more pressure and stress. Organisations need to take better care of their people and now recognise how the demands of work can affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well at work. That means placing health and wellbeing at the heart of the organisation.
From offers of weekly yoga sessions and free healthy breakfasts to rewards for cycling to work and carer’s leave, smart employers are doing just that. A growing number of businesses are encouraging their employees to be healthy and emotionally resilient – through a new generation of wellness intervention and health benefit schemes that go beyond paying lip service to simple health and safety guidelines.
The idea of corporate wellbeing schemes is not new. But now companies are looking to offer a range of initiatives and schemes aimed at tackling the health problems faced by a growing number of today’s workforce by providing access to complementary healthcare through their healthcare benefit schemes and workplace therapist visits.
By inspiring businesses – and the leaders within them – to challenge the thinking surrounding opportunities that healthy, high performing employees can bring to an organisation and to productivity. This reinforces the approach that “good health is good for business”, and “good business is good for health”.
TOM – Linking therapist with new clients
In the workplace and at home, the rising interest in complementary healthcare benefits everyone – from clients and patients to business owners and the practitioners themselves. And access has never been easier: now everyone is connected anytime, anywhere through our iPads, laptops and smartphones, we’re no longer limited to using local therapist and practitioners.
While some therapies such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology will always require face-to-face consultations, collaboration tools such as Skype, Webex and FaceTime empower therapists to connect with clients across the world at times that suit all parties.
This opens up a world of opportunities: for therapists looking to collaborate and expand their client base, and for patients looking to connect with and discover practitioners and communities that can help them on their journey to wellness and self-discovery.
Here and Now Medicine
Complementary therapists can help people understand the inter-connectedness of each dimension of their lives and teach them how to create a positive domino effect on their health.
Not only do clients and patients experience symptom relief and better health, but they do so as a by-product of a life filled with more passion and purpose. And that is good medicine.
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