The Power of Physiotherapy and Universal Medicine in Palliative Care

by Gill Randall, Physiotherapist, Grad Dip Phys, Banbury, UK

I work as a physiotherapist in palliative care. Now, physiotherapy and palliative care are not always words that we might put together. I have often received perplexed looks when telling people where I work initially, and the response often comes with ‘how sad and dreary that must be’, but no, on the contrary, that is not true. However, I do understand their confusion. Physiotherapy is associated with healing, recovering, getting better, or rehabilitation. Palliative care can imply coming towards the end of life, giving up or giving in at the end of the journey. But I consider that we all have the opportunity to learn or to feel a difference in life, right until our last breath, and in the hospice environment, we aim to keep people as well as possible, even in the last days of life.

Life is the journey that we are all on to learn and to evolve. This isn’t a ladder going upwards, it’s often a reflection back for us to observe.

What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one. What I have observed is that most palliative care patients are in a place of being very open to understanding this. As their present life is closing in, they are more willing to be aware of what they chose not to feel and see when they were well.

This is sometimes uncomfortable depending how they have lived, but sometimes there is an acceptance of their situation. They have often been on a rocky journey throughout their illness, have had a number of different treatments of radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, been faced with lots of decisions, but also had many hopes and dreams raised and fallen.

No matter where we are or what our beliefs, the wake up call of a diagnosis of a life-limiting disease is going to stop most people in their tracks, to evaluate their lives and how they have been living. Some will feel passive and blame their genetics, bad luck, or feel guilt; others will be more open and philosophical about their situation. I have observed that many have an awareness that their past decisions may have affected this lifetime. For example, someone who has been a heavy smoker may be dying of lung cancer and become aware that their actions from the past have contributed to their illness. This awareness seems heightened at the end of life with all the emotions it may bring, sometimes regret, sadness or grief, sometimes frustration or anger that their lives have been curtailed and at other times, an acceptance of ‘it is what it is’.

As a physiotherapy practitioner, I bring my energy to support them physically, to aid their mobility, to assist the gentle movement of their limbs, to assess what walking aid they need, to encourage them on the parallel bars or up the stairs, and to keep them as well as can be.

As a person, I support the nurses and health care assistants, the doctors, the caterers, the gardeners and the administration staff as to how we can all look after ourselves. I am in a team of moving and handling trainers and in this mandatory annual training, we discuss how we can care for ourselves first and foremost and how this is our responsibility.

As a student of The Way of The Livingness, I bring my understanding of the bigger picture of life and death for everyone to feel how death is not the end of the road; we have many lifetimes and they are simply coming to the end of this lifetime in the cycle of lives and deaths. When someone receives a deep treatment of Esoteric Connective Tissue therapy with me, they may not have had a cure for their illness in this lifetime, but they have a choice to connect to something that they can feel is inside them, and receive a great healing if they choose to accept this. When they feel this to be true, they become very accepting of their present journey and can sometimes let go of a lot of their emotional reactions.

The energy of the hospice is one of support to the staff, the patients and their close family and friends who are also affected. These people have been supporting the person with cancer for many months or years and are often completely exhausted. They are usually very relieved that their loved one is out of the hubbub of the acute medical system and often feel the state of calm as they enter the door, but there is also sometimes a raised awareness that this may be the final move on the journey for their loved one and all the staff are very supportive of them.

I am greatly appreciative to my colleagues, working together in a multi-disciplinary team in a loving and lovely environment. And I am ever-grateful to Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, for showing me the way to reconnect to the love that lives within me, and within us all, for the teachings on self-care that offered the steps to that love, for the wonderful healing modalities, in particular Esoteric Connective Tissue therapy, and for re-awakening me to the bigger picture of life and death, that allows me to work with dying people with such grace and joy.

Read more:

  1. Sacred Esoteric Healing: True Health Care
  2. Fixing or Healing – which do you choose? 

602 thoughts on “The Power of Physiotherapy and Universal Medicine in Palliative Care

  1. When we bring a broader perspective to our work it makes our work take on a whole new meaning and purpose. It is very beautiful to work like this.

  2. Gill, your article is deeply inspiring and calls me to feel more deeply the responsibility I have in the community to not ever give up on reflecting a living way to another, and to not shut down the joy and grace of divine expression and support in myself and others.

  3. Those palliative care patients are very lucky to have you as their support and mentor Gill, the kind of quality care that you bring to them is priceless, particularly at the end stages of their lives when there is a chance that they could let go of so much before they pass.

  4. “I bring my understanding of the bigger picture of life and death for everyone to feel how death is not the end of the road;” I have a similar philosophy to life, that there is so much more that this one life, so when it comes to death, I am not afraid at all, just knowing that I will return again.

  5. ‘I consider that we all have the opportunity to learn or to feel a difference in life, right until our last breath,’ I totally agree Gill. All too often we give up on older people and just ensure their comfort and try and make them as pain free as possible without considering what would give them a sense of purpose and have them looking forward to the day. It is also great if we can support those who have a terminal illness or who may not live that much longer to feel complete about their life, have everything in order so that they know that they have done the best they could before moving on.

  6. Working with dying people with grace and joy. A sentence that acknowledges a lived miracle. On the most basic level our health system recognises that people need to be supported to have quality of life possible right up until death. For years I’ve seen the approach of death as a time to ‘give up’ when in fact it is a time that we can acknowledge and clear so much before passing over.

  7. What a wonderful relationship you have set up here Gill with your Patients and other staff members. To be so loved and nurtured at the end of our lives has to be a very special experience for all concerned.

  8. Lovely to read this article again and be reminded that there are people out there who are supporting those with a terminal illness to make the best of their last days not by eating comfort foods to make them dull or chocolate and sweets to give them a quick lift but ‘to support them physically, to aid their mobility, to assist the gentle movement of their limbs, to assess what walking aid they need, to encourage them on the parallel bars or up the stairs, and to keep them as well as can be.’ Movement is so important and can bring much healing to those in their final years.

  9. I feel this is definitely something we need to discuss more ‘What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one.’ Because it is true and maybe if we truly understood this we would take far more care of ourselves and the choices we make.

  10. “Life is the journey that we are all on to learn and to evolve. This isn’t a ladder going upwards, it’s often a reflection back for us to observe.” Truly wise words for in reflection we are able to reassess choices and take more loving steps forward.

  11. It is awesome to hear and feel the amazing work you do Gill as a physiotherapist in palliative care, and what a difference it is making with the healing support of connective tissue therapy. It is never to late to assist a patient to connect to their inner essence with love and deep care which is what you are doing Gill.

  12. It is very beautiful to feel the support Gill offers to her patients right up until their last breath. There is a tendency for some to want to give up so being offered love and understanding in a supportive environment is crucial not only for the patient but also for their family and loved ones to take care of themselves until the time comes for the patient to pass over.

  13. A great testimony to the power of integrity and true care in healthcare, I really enjoyed reading about how you support and work with the teams, clients and offer healing practice, professional experience and an understanding of the bigger picture.

  14. What an amazing blog for me to read this morning. I am struck by your sharing that the paliative care model is part of a greater learning about letting go, about re-connecting, to self and to a purpose. it offers an opportunity to consider that dying would be so much less traumatic if there was a willingness to embrace the connection that has always been with us, and letting go of all that held us away from that.

    1. With age we have the opportunity to step back and to reassess, to consider if the ideals and beliefs worked or if we might let go of some of the things we have held fast to. I can see how the gentle movement and connection in an Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy session can support the body to surrender these things.

  15. The simple statement you make about death being a part of a cycle of lifetimes is enormous, and how fortunate are the people you support that they have a person caring for them that knows who they are.

  16. “Death is not the end of the road; we have many lifetimes” and at the end of our lives we are “simply coming to the end of this lifetime in the cycle of lives and deaths.” When this is truly understood, then the perception that the end of life needs to be a traumatic time and supporting another at this stage of their life is sad and dreary is turned on its head.

  17. Reading your blog has made me more aware and appreciative of just how powerful physiotherapy can be at the end of life stage. It’s more than just function as gentle movements can very much support that feeling of connection within themselves too.

  18. What is on offer here in our last days is amazing and I feel should be available to everyone, to be able to pass over surrounded in such love. Wouldn’t it be something that at every hospital there were a team of dedicated people on hand to help with the passing over of the patients.

  19. How lucky are all these people Gill, to have you in their lives offering them all a quality of what you bring with you and your work, that they may never have experienced had you not been there, showing and inspiring them all that there can be a different way.

  20. It’s great work you are doing here Gill, I can feel just how much you bring not only to the patients but to the whole team. I feel this is an area we need to bring a lot more love, care and attention to .. palliative care and hospices… and wholeheartedly agree with you it is important to support that person right up until their last breath; something I only realised the absolute importance of from listening to Serge Benhayon. Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine have provided the most magnificent template with which many can work with, if chosen, for truly caring for ourselves and bringing that same quality of care and love to others where ever we go, be it an office, shop, hospital or care home.

  21. Gill your words ‘I bring my understanding of the bigger picture of life and death for everyone to feel how death is not the end of the road; we have many lifetimes and they are simply coming to the end of this lifetime in the cycle of lives and deaths.’ Very profound and when we realise our choices are forever allowing us to feel the consequences we have the ability to change those choices life, after life.

  22. Could it be that towards the end of life we are finally (more) willing to open up to what we have known all along but didn´t want to face as we were so invested into limiting life what we wanted, needed or believed it to be and that by realizing that we cannot hold onto our version of life any longer as it will fade with death that we simply reconnect to what we actually knew from the very beginning – that we are more than just mortal beings and that there is more to us than one human life.

  23. How beautiful that you bring grace and joy to those you work with Gill. Normally joy would not be a word used in association to dying but I too have found working in this area of physiotherapy can be graceful, tender, open, warm, loving and very joyful.

  24. Great to read how these patients are open to be aware of, and feel what they had previously chosen not to feel, as yes, ‘What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one.’ I agree, let’s heal as much as possible now, in this life.

  25. I agree, palliative care should never be about giving up or giving in at the end of the journey, it should be about the opposite, holding and maintaining one’s energetic integrity and quality until one’s last breath. When we come to a better understanding of re-incarnation, its purpose and how it works, we will realise the calamity that giving up truly is because it adversely affects our future incarnations.

  26. The love, care and appreciation that you bring to your work is palpable in this article. This quality has a very steadying effect on those who are faced with a terminal illness or are close to the end of their life. Speaking quite openly and plainly is often very welcome for there can be an underlying openness that is just waiting to be met. Administering such simple, gentle and unimposing treatment such as Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy allows for more space in the body and a possibility of a deeper connection with oneself and the Universe as a whole.

  27. The words that stood out in this blog is that yes the work of Serge Benhayon has truly supported many in ‘understanding the bigger picture of life and death’. The realisation that every moment counts and that to be more and heal more to the final breath brings healing of a deep kind.

  28. I think we underestimate how much our bodies love to move. Its a shame that as we get older some seem to think they should be less active. And even when people are close to death, there is no reason why they should not be in receipt of physiotherapy. Its about the quality of each day, not simply marking time while waiting to pass.

  29. Gill I have found that when I talk to elderly people that some are very open to reincarnation and some do very much want to talk about their lives and where they feel they went ‘wrong’ and the measures to put it ‘right’
    because they carry a deep sense of sadness and regret and just being able to talk about this helps them to feel less agitated and settle into themselves.

  30. ‘…we all have the opportunity to learn or to feel a difference in life, right until our last breath…’ I have just seen the most amazing interview with a dying woman – http://universalmedicinefacts.com/a-new-model-of-palliative-care-and-the-posthumous-press-abuse-of-judith-mcintyre/ – that attests to this very fact. I was totally blown away by the joy she emanated, so at peace with herself, her situation and all she was learning. Approached in this way, I could see death is an experience to be embraced. It’s wonderful Gill you provide such support for the dying.

  31. “we all have the opportunity to learn or to feel a difference in life, right until our last breath, and in the hospice environment, we aim to keep people as well as possible, even in the last days of life.” This is beautiful that wherever we are on the cycle of life we can, with love, live life until our last breath.

  32. After my last bout of surgery my orthopaedic surgeon expressed that the recovery was literally the best he had ever seen… He asked me who my physiotherapist was, I told him Kate Greenaway, and that she didn’t just do physiotherapy… He was so impressed that he said he would be sending more patients to her.

  33. After reading your blog, I can see how supportive movement in the body through physiotherapy is, especially at the palliative stage of life. What a wonderful way to confirm the connection to love at this stage of life.

  34. This is beautiful what is offered Gill, to feel people return to the love that they are, as we all will one day.

  35. What we don’t heal and/or learn in this lifetime we come back to heal in a subsequent life – if everyone had this understanding from birth I am sure we would all be far more responsible.

  36. Even though there are no cures in palliative care, there is always the opportunity to experience something deeper, to learn from our body. I have also found people who are dying often have a very humble, open, philosophical view, which lends itself to healing and greater awareness, without the desperation of trying to cure or fix.

  37. Your words are very healing for us all Gill. As is the grace that you offer by bringing the quality that you bring to your work and your deep understanding of what is needed at this stage of a person’s life. It may seem strange to care in this way for a body that is about to be discarded but this goes way beyond caring for only the physical form. This genuine care ignites within the patient the will to repair and restore that that has led to the dis-ease in the first place. When this toxic seed is removed, then a true seed is planted that has the ability to flourish in the soil in which it is next planted. That is to say, in departing this life our every move matters in terms of sowing the seeds for what we will reap in the life that is to follow. We are here to support each other through this process.

    1. Exquisitely phrased, expressing as it does the joy of re-incarnation. Why so many choose to believe in ‘there’s only one life’ and cop all the misery such a philosophy brings them should be a mystery worth examining.

    2. Which is why reincarnation is worth consideration. What if it really is a given? If so, what seeds have we been planting up to date? What type of garden shall we be returning to?

  38. Thank you this has brought a great understanding of palliative care and how this works in relationship with physiotherapy. I have a family member going through this, and reading this blog has really supported me to better understand how much one can gain from the last stages of life, and how much the body can clear.

  39. What you have shared Gill is ground breaking for me in it’s simplicity as a physiotherapy what you offer is such a depth of understanding and an acceptance of death, that life is to be lived until the very end, even in the preparation of death, working with the body in respect, honouring and with dignity.
    The whole team you work with also allow the person to experience dying in such a supportive and dignified way. You have changed my understanding to how physiotherapy can potentially be so much more.

  40. That’s a very interesting observation Gill, that “What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one. What I have observed is that most palliative care patients are in a place of being very open to understanding this. As their present life is closing in, they are more willing to be aware of what they chose not to feel and see when they were well.” It demonstrates a humbling of the spirit to consider and accept things that open up a grander understanding of life and death.

  41. Facing death can be a very humbling experience. To look back and feel the quality of our life and realise that we may have missed a few opportunities along the way can be humbling if we allow ourselves to feel more deeply at a time that calls us to in preparation for our next incarnation.

  42. This was beautiful to read Gill, the support you bring to those whose life is coming to a close and their families is huge. These situations can often be distressing for everyone involved and to have someone so steady, genuinely caring and supportive is amazing to read.

  43. Gill to offer physiotherapy along with the awareness and love you reflect would be potentially life changing to a patient that is looking at the bigger picture and surrendering to the inevitable. Such support would be felt deeply

  44. Thank you Gill. The power of physiotherapy in conjunction with the complementary therapies of Universal Medicine in palliative care is enormous. I have experienced the most wonderful results.

  45. Gill I love this point you raise “What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one.” as it shows how much we are in charge of our evolution, what we choose to learn and deal with or not simply changes the timeframe but in the end we all will learn what we need to regardless of the number of lives it takes.

  46. To support another in full awareness and acceptance of where they are at and what they are open to dealing with feels very allowing. I can think of no better way of supporting people in the process of dying than with the way they move.

  47. “What we don’t learn in this lifetime, we will be shown again in the next one” and this is the blessing of reincarnation we all have ,as understanding this revelation we can look at life with a different perspective- one of taking responsibility of what is it that we are choosing which is not serving us and how to go about it so we connect more with our soul. As you have shared Gyl, It is never too late to make these changes even in our last breaths we can embrace the love that burns within us all. Thank you.

    1. Very astute Francisco, to bring light to the fact that it is never too late to return to love, to its enduring presence that remains with us all the way through life and death. It never leaves us, it never goes away. It is always there because we are it at the core of who we are. Love remains because we remain. The presence of love is here on earth because we are here on earth. So no matter our choices through life, this love can be returned to even at the last moments during our departure from this place.

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