Evergreen Hospice Compassionate Touch Program
Submitted by Liz Pyle, WRA Board Member
Earlier this year, I inquired about the possibility of volunteering as part of Evergreen Hospice’s Compassionate Touch program. The program had massage therapists and Reiki practioners, but no reflexologists.
There were many different things that drew me to hospice; most of them personal but to my mind, reflexology would be a welcome addition to their palliative care program. In hospice, patients have a prognosis of 6 months or less to live and have opted out of curative care. Many suffer from pain, nausea and anxiety and are treated with prescription medications which may cause other symptoms.
After my initial interview, a reference check, background check and health screening, I was scheduled to attend the required 25-hour training class in May. There were 18 people in the training class, and two of us were signed up to participate in the Compassionate Touch program. Training covers the philosophy and history of hospice care, medical ethics, confidentiality, spirituality at end of life, social boundaries, bereavement, as well as self-care.
I was eager to start, but there were hoops to jump through. Unlike Reiki, a physician would need to sign-off before patients could receive a reflexology session. The hospice staff had full confidence in Reiki and had seen the benefit to the patients. I’d already completed Reiki I so decided to complete a Reiki II attunement which is what led to my first patient assignment. I asked if I could combine reflexology with Reiki because, as I explained, I was much more comfortable with reflexology.
The hospice Reiki practitioners had done a good job of becoming an accepted modality by proving their value and gaining credibility. So I knew that I’d need to show rather than tell everyone about reflexology. I asked if I could meet with the hospice staff to provide short reflexology sessions to the coordinators, nurses, Social Workers and any staff members who were interested in learning about what reflexology could do for them and their patients. They agreed. I gave sixteen 20-minute sessions at the center. Now that the coordinators have realized how powerful reflexology is, no one has asked me to do Reiki again and now it’s easy to get physician approval. Last week one of the Evergreen Hospice coordinators informed me that they would like to have more reflexologists – one isn’t enough to cover all of the territory they serve.
I am grateful to have this opportunity to educate the public, including those in traditional healthcare, about the power of reflexology.