Touch is such an important aspect of end of life care. It conveys compassion and concern and is therapeutic if directed in a mindful and meaningful way. Massage therapists work in a number of settings where massage therapy is used with patients with terminal illness and who are approaching end of life. Massage therapy strokes and short protocols addressing certain areas of the body can be taught to caregivers and families to use during the dying process, so they can offer support, touch and a connection with the dying person. Massage therapy techniques can also be used in managing symptoms. Research confirms the effectiveness in assisting to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Massage therapists have little standardized training in end of life care. Most learn on the job and with experience working with dying patients. Some feel very prepared and confident in how they perform massage in end of life, others conquer their fears and still others proceed with caution and have little support.
A new massage therapy course has been developed to address the need for standardized training for massage therapists working with terminally ill patients. It follows the curriculum set by the End of Life Nursing Education Consortium and adds massage therapy techniques into the training program. Read more