Dr Géraldine Gommez, Médecin Gériatre
2016 prize
Dr. Géraldine Gommez
Hôpital de Valenciennes (Public Hospital)

Aromatherapy in supportive care in geriatrics

Géraldine photo soins

The Foundation prize was awarded to the Valenciennes Hospital Centre where the aromatherapy approach was initiated and led by Doctor Géraldine Gommez-Mazaingue, a geriatrician and member of the Institutional Aromatherapy Group created in 2014. The Valenciennes Hospital Centre was selected by the Foundation’s Aromatherapy Steering Committee for initiating and developing an innovative care and support approach for patients using essential oils. In 2009, the Centre’s Geriatric Division began using essential oils to soothe elderly or very vulnerable patients. Often on various forms of medication, these patients are more sensitive to the side effects of treatment and sometimes suffer from ill health that is difficult to relieve: thymus disorders, behavioural issues, insomnia, anxiety, depression, pain, skin conditions, etc. Given the variability of these stubborn symptoms, medicine-style protocols – based on the existing scientific literature and experience – have been established to provide a health care framework for the use of essential oils. Used under prescription and with the patient’s agreement, these protocols set out the conditions and methods of application as well as the traceability and evaluation of oils to ensure the safety of the treatments and the health workers. Essential oils have proven particularly effective with elderly people. They represent a break in an often dense and anxiety-inducing care plan. Depending on the illness, they offer relief for joint pain, cutaneous mycosis, haematoma and ulcers, help minimise the use of painkillers and calm anxiety, anguish and agitation. For health workers, the use of oils takes care-giving back to basics and improves relations with the patient. “As well as their therapeutic properties, essential oils transform the patient/health worker relationship,” says Géraldine Gommez-Mazaingue. “Health workers have made the act of “care-giving” central to their job and feel more fulfilled in their work as a result.” Following the positive results in the Geriatrics Division, the use of essential oils has been gradually extended to other centre departments (neurology, paediatrics, maternity, oncology, psychiatry and radiology) thanks to professional training and the dissemination of protocols.

In an effort to bring together the hospital’s essential oils initiatives, in early 2014, the Hospital Centre’s Management opted to form an institutional aromatherapy group made up of health workers and doctors from the various departments and divisions where they are used. This group ensures the best practices, training and protocols used in the departments in question. It also aims to harmonise practices while factoring in the particular characteristics of each department. In the words of Professor Robert Anton, Chair of the Foundation Aromatherapy Steering Committee, “We are delighted to see that the tenacity of a doctor on the ground combined with the implementation of clinical protocols complying with strict scientific standards have propagated the use of essential oils – for the benefit of all – in all departments of a hospital.

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