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The Supportive Care Team

Supportive care team


Our multi-disciplinary supportive care team is a mix of professionals who cover counselling, physiotherapy, chaplaincy, occupational therapy, social work and complementary therapy. Find out more details below about each of the areas of support we can provide.


Physiotherapy is available to all patients under the care of St Columba’s Hospice at any stage in their illness. Our physiotherapy team can see people in the Day Hospice, the Inpatient Unit, as an Outpatient, and even in peoples’ own homes.

There is a common misconception that palliative care physiotherapy is only appropriate when someone is coming to the end of their life; in fact, it can be beneficial much earlier than that. People will progressive illnesses often feel they are not able to do all the activities they used to and that they have lost some independence. These symptoms can be improved or managed through physiotherapy.

Palliative care physiotherapy aims to help people to move around and stay as active and independent as possible. Our team can teach techniques to make symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue more manageable, provide guidance and advice on appropriate types and level of activity and exercise and work on specific things like strength and balance.

If people are having difficulty moving, our physiotherapists can provide walking aids and refer for wheelchairs, while teaching families and carers the safest way to move people.

There may be times when the team need to discuss a person’s medical care with other health professionals out with the Hospice (i.e. oncology, GP, social workers, community physiotherapists) but the team always ask a person’s permission beforehand.

You can read more about the service and the benefits it has for patients here. 


Within the supportive care team we have an experienced counselling team offering psychological and emotional support to patients and families, whether they are involved in the Inpatient Unit, Day Hospice or Community Palliative Care Team.

Each patient and family go through a unique transition from diagnosis to the patient’s end of life. They face and experience many internal and external stresses, which can present as a mixture of emotions:

  • low mood/depression
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • lack of confidence or self esteem
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • fear

Having someone to talk to may not change the situation, but it can help put thoughts and feelings in to perspective and offer strategies to enable both patients and families to cope and deal with their situation.

St Columba’s Hospice also offers support to families after a loved one has died.

Most people will work through the experience of bereavement with support from family and friends. However for some people this can be difficult and for any number of reasons, they may need additional help to come to terms with their loss.

If you would like to talk to someone about the Bereavement Support Service, please contact our counselling team on 0131 551 1381.


People tend to assume that chaplaincy is just for people with an active religious affiliation. We see it as being about spiritual care.

We are all too aware that our patients and their relatives are trying to make sense of what is happening to them. As part of the wider supportive care team, the chaplaincy team is available to all those connected with the Hospice, to listen and be with individuals and families. In doing so the team may assist people in finding resources within and around them to help deal with their present situation.

For those who wish, our chaplaincy team can offer prayer and share rituals of their faith tradition with them. We are able to contact a representative of any faith community for patients if required.

Our beautiful Columba Room is also available 24 hours a day to all as a place for quiet reflection.

You can read more about the services provided by our chaplaincy and spiritual care team here. 

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is available to all patients under the care of St Columba’s Hospice at any stage in their illness.

Occupational therapy provides practical support to enable people to overcome physical and psychological difficulties that prevent them from doing the activities that matter to them. This can involve the following:

  • assessment of the home environment to make it more accessible
  • supporting the transition from hospice to home
  • provision of equipment to aid everyday tasks
  • assessing for carer support at home
  • provision of small adaptations i.e. rails, bannisters
  • advise and support for symptom management.

Our occupational therapists are part of the supportive care team and can look at the important areas of your life and decide how best to achieve your goals, in the ways that suit you. This may include offering assistance with what is available to you at the Hospice, or how you can be supported at home, through the provision of appropriate equipment.

As everyone’s needs are different and may change over time, our occupational therapists provide a flexible approach to treatment, and occupational therapy is available to both inpatients at St Columba’s Hospice and those attending our Day Hospice. Sessions are available on an individual or group basis, depending on individual needs and preferences.

There may be times our occupational therapists need to discuss a person’s medical care with other health professionals out with the Hospice (i.e. oncology, GP, social workers, community occupational therapist/physiotherapist) but would ask a person’s permission before doing this.

You can read more about the service and the benefits it has for patients here. 

Social Work

Our social worker assesses and addresses the psychological, practical and social needs of patients and their families and carers, by working collaboratively with other members of the multi-disciplinary team.

This also involves working in partnership with patients and carers to enable them to make informed choices and providing advice and information on benefits, power of attorney and making a will.

Our social worker is also involved in discharge planning and liaises with other agencies and services on behalf of patients, families and carers.

Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapy is an integral part of the holistic care we offer our patients and their loved ones and is one of the services offered by the supportive care team.

Our complementary therapists offer a comprehensive range of massage therapies, including therapeutic massage, reflexology, Reiki, Indian head massage and cranio-sacral therapy. These therapies can help to relieve stress, aid relaxation, promote a sense of wellbeing and help develop coping skills.

The therapies are provided free of charge, and take place on a Tuesday and Friday morning after consultation with a clinical nurse specialist and our complementary therapy coordinator. We have six complementary therapists, and each of them is trained in massage techniques appropriate for palliative care.

Click here for details on how to refer a patient to these services.