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Friday 23 April 2021
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Janet Cairnie

Complementary therapy for renal patients

Janet Cairnie is Complementary Therapy Practitioner for the Renal services within the North West. Salford Royal operates dialysis units in Salford, Wigan, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale. On World Kidney Day (8 March), Janet tells us about the complementary therapy on offer to renal patients in Greater Manchester.


On World Kidney Day, we will be around in the Hope Building to demonstrate our treatments and talk about the complementary therapy programme.


This project commenced in December 2015 with the help of the Lead Consultant Janet Hegarty and Kidney Care UK formerly, British Kidney Patient Association (BKPA) who has helped fund the project. The project is patient centric, where the needs of the patient are paramount. Its aim is to provide the best quality of care and is continuously looking for ways to improve the patient’s experience of dialysis.


My role is to recruit and train volunteers so that they can go onto any of the five renal units in Greater Manchester - Salford, Wigan, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale. These volunteers will deliver therapies to patients while they are on dialysis. Not only can this be a lovely treatment, in addition Complementary Therapy practice may aid stress reduction in patients receiving renal haemodialysis and as a result, may improve their quality of life and the dialysis experience. The physiological therapeutic effects of therapies can help ease muscular or bone pain, reduce the symptoms of irritable legs, help reduce itching and cramps that the renal patient suffer.


Are complementary therapies safe?


Complementary therapies are often promoted as ‘safe’, ‘gentle’ or even ‘natural’ – but this doesn’t mean they don’t have their own side effects. They may not be appropriate in all cases. Our Therapists have had training from our unit consultant on aspects of kidney disease and dialysis treatment; in addition they have had training in a short course of massage.

Therapies have been used in many clinical practices in the past and there is a lot of research and evidence to prove that it works and can be extremely beneficial to the recipient.  


We offer a range of therapies including Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage Reiki and more – please ask us for details.

Since the start of the project it has picked up momentum and at present we have 23 therapists in situ. There are 11 volunteer therapists at Salford Royal, four at Wigan, five at Bolton and two at Oldham.


We carry out interviews regularly and Volunteer Services work hard to carry out DBS and reference checks. There are currently another five volunteers who are going through the processing stage. The therapists are thoroughly enjoying their experience and they get so much out of helping the patients. It’s lovely to be able to make a small difference to patients’ quality of life and help with the symptoms they can incur as a person with renal failure.


The feedback we receive from patients is great. One patient said, “it makes me feel like life is worth living”. Another also told us the agonising cramps he was suffering in his hands and arms have lessened and the massage treatments feel really good. One of our patients was sceptical before he started to have treatments. We treated him for chronic cramps and burning sensations in his feet and legs. He recalls it was amazing how he could go out for walks with his dog and enjoy it without being in pain, now he mentions his walking stick has gone and hasn’t needed to use it since. Therapies can be contagious - and when one patient sees his neighbour having a treatment, they too want to experience having therapies!


We regularly carry out training events for our volunteer therapists which they love and we give a certificate for their attendance. They also get recognition when they have been with us for a year.

If you are a dialysis patient and would like to know about the therapies we offer then please get in touch or ask renal staff for information.

Fancy joining our group of complementary therapists? 

Please contact me:


Janet Cairnie – Complementary Therapy Practitioner, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Base Office: Wigan Renal Unit, Boston House, Wigan. Telephone: 0161 206 4812 Mobile: 07837860717. Email: janet.cairnie@srft.nhs.uk or Volunteer@srft.nhs.uk

Renal Unit complementary therapy volunteers
Some of the complementary therapist volunteers working across Salford, Wigan, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale dialysis units
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Complementary therapists group
Complementary therapists attend regular training events with us