Establishing Oncology Massage as Part of a Wellness Program in a Comprehensive Cancer Centre (#324)
In 2012 the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) at Austin Health in Melbourne, opened its Wellness Centre with an aim that patients would have access to a range of wellness programs as an integrated part of their clinical cancer care. With a commitment to providing ‘proven’ wellness therapies, the challenge was to meet consumer needs and expectations, at the same time ensuring that service developments were grounded in an evidence-base. In a consumer consultation held prior to the opening of the ONJCWC, the most highly ranked wellness intervention that consumers wanted to see provided in the new Centre was massage. The evidence base for massage in cancer patients states that “for cancer patients experiencing anxiety or pain, massage therapy delivered by an oncology-trained massage therapist is recommended as part of multimodality treatment” (Deng et al. 2009). Training in oncology massage in Australia is available through Oncology Massage Training. The 4-stage training program prepares experienced massage therapists to provide a safe and appropriate service to inpatients and outpatients in the hospital setting. In 2012, Austin Health hosted the first Oncology Massage Training program to be held in a public hospital, and has continued to host further programs. To coincide with the opening of the ONJCWC in mid-2012, a part-time oncology massage therapist was appointed Recognising that some complementary therapies such as massage are unregulated in Australia, a credentialing policy was developed and applied in the appointment to this role. In the first 12 months, 370 massages have been provided by one part-time therapist. In response to the demand from patients, oncology massage has expanded to a full-time service. Massages are available to patients in Day Oncology, Oncology Wards and the Palliative Care Unit. Massage is available by appointment in the Wellness Centre.