How to Use Aromatherapy in Care Homes

How to Use Aromatherapy in Care Homes


Care Learning

4 mins READ

Aromatherapy involves using essential oils extracted from plants to improve physical and emotional well-being. In care homes, aromatherapy can provide various benefits for residents, including relaxation, pain relief, and improved sleep.

This guide will explain how to use aromatherapy effectively in care homes.

Benefits of Aromatherapy in Care Homes

Emotional Well-being

Aromatherapy can help manage emotions like anxiety and depression. Scents like lavender and chamomile are known to promote calmness and reduce stress. This can be especially beneficial for residents who may feel anxious about being away from home.

Physical Benefits

Aromatherapy can alleviate physical symptoms such as pain and stiffness. Essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint can help relieve muscle pain and joint discomfort. These oils can be particularly useful for older adults suffering from arthritis or other chronic conditions.

Improved Sleep

Many older adults struggle with sleep issues. Aromatherapy can aid in promoting better sleep patterns. Oils such as lavender and sandalwood are known for their sleep-inducing properties. Using these scents before bedtime can help residents sleep more soundly.

Implementing Aromatherapy

Choosing Essential Oils

Not all essential oils are suitable for every individual. It’s essential to consider any allergies or sensitivities residents may have. Below are some common essential oils used in care homes and their benefits:

  • Lavender: Helps with relaxation and improved sleep.
  • Peppermint: Eases headaches and improves mental clarity.
  • Eucalyptus: Assists with respiratory issues and joint pain relief.
  • Chamomile: Reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation.
  • Lemon: Enhances mood and boosts energy levels.

Methods of Application


Diffusers disperse essential oils into the air, making them easy to inhale. Place a diffuser in communal areas like the lounge or dining room. This allows all residents to benefit from the calming scents. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for how much oil to use.

Topical Application

You can also apply diluted essential oils directly to the skin. This method requires a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, to avoid skin irritation. Always perform a patch test first to ensure there are no allergic reactions.


Another simple method is to use a few drops of essential oil on a tissue or handkerchief. Residents can then inhale the aroma when needed. This is particularly useful for on-the-spot relief from anxiety or pain.


Add essential oils to bathwater for a relaxing experience. Make sure the oils are properly diluted to avoid skin irritation. Bathing with essential oils can help soothe muscles and promote relaxation.

Safety Considerations

Allergies and Sensitivities

Always check for any allergic reactions before using essential oils extensively. Perform a patch test by applying a small amount of diluted oil to the skin. Wait 24 hours to see if there is any redness or irritation.

Correct Dilution

Undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritation and other adverse effects. Always mix essential oils with a carrier oil for topical application. A common dilution ratio is six drops of essential oil to 30ml of carrier oil.

Consultant Health Professionals

Before introducing aromatherapy, consult healthcare professionals. It’s crucial to ensure that aromatherapy won’t interfere with any medications or ongoing treatments.

Creating a Routine

Personalised Aromatherapy Plans

Each resident is unique, so it’s essential to tailor aromatherapy to individual needs. Create personalised aromatherapy plans based on the specific requirements and preferences of each resident.

Schedule Regular Sessions

Consistency is key when using aromatherapy. Schedule regular sessions to maximise the benefits. For example, use calming scents like lavender in the evenings to help residents wind down before bedtime.

Monitor and Adjust

Monitor the residents’ responses to aromatherapy. Keep records to track any changes in well-being or behaviour. Adjust the aromatherapy plan as needed based on these observations.

Training Staff

Understanding Aromatherapy

It’s essential that staff members understand how aromatherapy works. Provide training sessions to educate staff about the benefits and methods of using essential oils. This ensures they can administer aromatherapy safely and effectively.

Routine Checks

Staff should regularly check residents for any signs of adverse reactions. Promptly address any issues and consult healthcare professionals if needed. This ensures the safety and well-being of all residents.

Encouraging Participation

Encourage staff to participate in aromatherapy sessions. This not only boosts staff morale but also creates a more relaxed and positive environment in the care home.

Creating a Calming Environment

Scented Spaces

Use diffusers in communal areas to create a calming atmosphere. Scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can make these spaces more inviting and relaxing.

Personal Spaces

Allow residents to personalise their rooms with their preferred scents. A diffuser or essential oil spray can make their space feel more homely and comfortable.

Complementary Activities

Combine aromatherapy with other calming activities like reading, music, or gentle exercises. This enhances the overall relaxation experience for the residents.


Budget-Friendly Options

Aromatherapy doesn’t have to be expensive. Diffusers and essential oils are relatively affordable. Bulk purchases can also reduce costs.

Long-term Benefits

Investing in aromatherapy can lead to long-term benefits. Improved emotional and physical well-being can reduce the need for medications and other treatments, saving money in the long run.

Feedback and Improvement

Resident Feedback

Encourage residents to provide feedback on their aromatherapy experience. This helps tailor the approach to better meet their needs.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly review and update the aromatherapy programme based on feedback and outcomes. This ensures that it continues to provide the best possible benefits for residents.


Aromatherapy offers numerous benefits for residents in care homes. From improving emotional well-being to alleviating physical symptoms, it can enhance the quality of life for older adults.

By understanding how to use essential oils safely and effectively, care homes can create a calming and supportive environment for their residents.

Always remember to consult healthcare professionals and tailor the approach to individual needs for the best results.

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