By learning specialized techniques, massage therapists can help ease anxiety and reduce the fear hospice patients face in the final stages of their life.
The role of a massage therapist in this process isn’t to help cure a hospice patient, but to help comfort her and make her condition more tolerable.
By learning the benefits and techniques of the effects of massage on hospice patients via home-study courses, massage therapists can easily implement these tools into practice.
An Internet search revealed numerous home-study courses that are available for any massage therapist to take to fulfill her continuing education requirements.
For hospice massage, some of the courses offered cover such topics as outcomes for the use of touch in palliative care; the business of dying; touch techniques; precautions; guidelines for massage; self-care elements; body mechanics; side positioning; importance of confidentiality; working in a client’s home; and the emotional impact of working with hospice patients.
Some benefits of massage for hospice patients include relaxing tight muscles, reducing joint stiffness, reducing anxiety, improving circulation, preventing bed sores and aiding in pain management.
Recent studies have shown hospice massage can significantly and positively affect patients receiving end-of-life care.
One study, “Three Lessons From a Randomized Trial of Massage and Meditation at End of Life: Patient Benefit, Outcome Measure Selection, and Design of Trials With Terminally Ill Patients,” monitored 108 hospice patients with an average age of 74 years old. Massages were conducted twice a week and patients and their study partners, which were usually family members, were questioned about their condition after the treatments.
The research showed patients and their study partners received significantly greater benefit if the patients were assigned to their preferred treatment, and reported a higher quality of life at the end of the study.
Make sure to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits.