Caring for the body and mind of palliative care patients

Caring for the body and mind of palliative care patients

Passionate about music – a family heritage, Christine Coste trained at the Pau Conservatory as a clarinetist, before playing for 15 years in her own parish orchestra. She is also responsible for the Pain Control Committee (CLUD) at the hospital centre.

At the beginning of August, an intern in her 4th year of medicine joined the palliative care department. The 22-year-old cellist brought her instrument to give patients small concerts for two weeks. But it is far from being the only method used by the medical team to ease the daily lives of patients. Doctor Christine Coste tells us more…

Palliative care is a very special service in a hospital…

Christine Coste (CC): That’s right. But contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not a place of death: half of the people who are hospitalized there return to their homes. At the Orthez hospital center, our service is divided into three areas: a unit of eight beds grouped together to receive emergency patients, in order to rebalance the pain or even relieve caregivers, a mobile team which intervenes at home to carry out a first approach to palliative care, a sort of after-sales service with patient follow-up, and lastly, a year ago, we created a day hospitalization service, Accompanying Care in Illness (SAM). The team welcomes the chronically ill, people with cancer or degenerative diseases. It is in this third pole that integrative medicine is used the most.

In palliative care, the approach to the patient is very different: patient follow-up is more extensive and death is integrated into the medical process. We have another vision of the disease. Our role is to take the patient as a whole. We are not trying to save the patient, but to find a way to improve his condition. It is a medicine that is more in the feeling.

How did you start using them?

CC : I’m more of a Cartesian person, but I wanted to understand what happens in the brain when using this type of medicine. The hospital gave me hypnosis training and I went into it not really believing it. This two-year training has proven to be very useful. I then trained in integrative medicine through a university degree in Paris.

Singing, acupuncture, osteopathy, comfort massage, meditation, breathing work, hypnosis, setting up a choreography and music allow patients to escape and experience the pain. This integrative medicine aims to create a clutter of the brain with positive elements, to make it forget the pain. We stimulate another part of the brain to modify its perception.

But beware, it is not about doing lithotherapy, removing the fire or other, these practices are all recognized by the medical world. Also, every patient is different. I see these integrative medicines as toolboxes: I draw from them according to the needs of the patient and his state of mind.

How do the patients react?

CC : Very good. The first time I used hypnosis on one of them was to do a Schubert bandage, a very painful treatment. He focused on my voice and at the end he told me he was disappointed because the beach I had “sent him” to was a pebble beach. He only felt this embarrassment, it’s surprising!


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