Nurturing Hospice Touch
End-of-Life Care through Gentle Touch
The desire to help a loved one at the end of life in a meaningful way is important to family and friends but sometimes people; but, sometimes feel at a loss for what they can do. Gentle nurturing touch is a wonderful way connect and bring comfort.
What is Nurturing Hospice Touch?
Nurturing Hospice Touch is a person-centered touch therapy whereby the practitioner brings to an individual’s care a state of being, rather than a state of doing. This state of being is also known as therapeutic presence. This state of being involves the practitioner’s ability to be present and available as a nonjudgmental observer for the dying person’s expression of his or her illness.
Meaningful Connection, Validation, and Honor
Nurturing Hospice Touch provides a dying person and possibly caregivers and family members – all of whom may be in various states of grief and feelings of helplessness – a meaningful way to connect through the natural transition taking place at the bedside.
A Safe Place for Vulnerability and Acceptance
Dying persons are vulnerable and are in need of a safe environment in which they have permission to be in their journey without the expectation they have to change. This vulnerability is due to their having relinquished social defenses in the need to receive intimate care. They have lost physical defenses due to the loss of muscle mass and physical stamina. Many will give up emotional defenses as they let go of their image in the world, their family, their bodily functions and finally the ability to breathe.
“Of all the gifts we can give to people, the gift of our touch is one of the most priceless. Through our hands we convey a kind of radiance. A warmth seeps out from our inner fire, a wrap for someone’s chill, a light for another’s dark.” — Jan Phillips
Benefits of Gentle Touch
Massage helps ease many of the physical symptoms. The focus of Nurturing Hospice Touch is not curative in nature. It is supportive to help ease many of the physical symptoms associated with long periods of decreased physical activity and slowing down of the body’s filtering systems.
Focused or intentional touch can convey a message of being cared for, safe and valued, as well as feeling connected to oneself, one’s environment, and a greater whole or community.
Feelings of safety and belonging to a greater whole help the dying person develop a more positive relationship with his or her physical body and with the dying process. This helps ease such attitudinal symptoms as anger, depression, and fear. These symptoms interfere with the ability to receive care and contribute to the experience of pain.
Touch also stimulates sense of proprioception. The loss of proprioception, or not knowing where one’s body parts are in space, is one physical manifestation of the dying process. This leads to great confusion, disorientation, and anxiety.
Touch provides dying people with one-on-one social contact, and thereby assists in easing feelings of isolation and loneliness. These are stressors that contribute to physical and emotional pain.
As dying people lose the ability to utilize the more socially learned forms of communication, a new means of communication must be established. Touch, because it is our first language, provides a natural, alternative method of expression.
What Does a Nurturing Hospice Touch Session Look Like?
The primary focus for a session compassionate comfort within the context of relationships for which the care is provided. The practitioner’s approach is warm and thoughtful for how to go about creating positional comfort to aide in creating relaxation. Communication with the individual throughout the session is a priority. The practitioner moves through the session gaining permission to provide each movement of touch. Careful observation of the individual’s response is gauged throughout the session. The movement of touch is slow, graceful, and rhythmic. Touch can be applied over sheets or clothing or directly to the skin where lotion may be added. The session closes with the expression of gratitude to the individual. The room is returned to the way it was organized before the session began.
How Does Therapeutic Massage and Nurturing Hospice Touch Differ?
The difference between therapeutic massage and nurturing hospice touch is the approach, time and intention for the session.
Therapeutic massage has a focus to restore, adjust, or manipulate the body to affect a desired outcome for relief, wellness, relaxation or increased function. The length of sessions and frequency varies and is dependent upon the change an individual wants to make. Therapeutic touch modalities may vary from gentle to vigorous and can include other supportive activities such as heat application, stretching, or liniments.
Nurturing Hospice Touch on the other hand recognizes and understands the individual’s body is naturally progressing through the dying process. The therapist or practitioner holds the intention of providing a silent observation and acceptance, rather than trying to fix, change, cure, or correct any specific symptom or condition. There is space created to allow the dying person’s symptom’s full expression. Access to bring a gentle touch may be limited at bedside to feet and legs, hands and arms, or neck and head. Gentle touch offered is dependent upon where the individual’s body is in the process of dying.
Schedule an On-site Session
Nurturing Hospice Touch sessions may be scheduled with me through by any of the following ways:
- Individual hospice companies
- Home Care services
- Private client request
- Physician office referral
Nurturing Hospice Touch Caregiver Class
The great thing about this skill is anyone can learn it. All that is required is a willing heart and desire to serve another. One-on-one and group class offerings are available to schedule upon request.
Peace in the Midst
At a time that can be a mix of uncertainty, difficulty, grief, confusion, and often frustrated expressions of love, it is my commitment to provide a warm, compassionate, supportive experience for all involved – the individual, family, friends, and healthcare members.
Contact Bren Smith to learn more or to schedule a session or class.