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Live Comfortably - October 24, 2023
By Erica Sadiq
Hospice is a special kind of compassionate care that focuses on the quality of life for people facing a serious or life-limiting illness or injury. Hospice care addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual state of being. It provides the patient and their loved ones with critical support and education during the difficult journey known as end-of-life.
While we might not immediately think it could be part of someone’s care, physical touch can have a profound impact on the overall wellbeing of someone who’s facing serious medical issues. Research from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) indicates that massage therapy can improve the quality of life for those in hospice. The AMTA found that hospice patients receiving massage therapy were more comfortable and relaxed, had reduced levels of anxiety and stress, and found that massage therapy alleviated symptoms like pain, loss of sleep, nausea and fatigue.
Massage therapy at end-of-life provides a safe touch. It helps muscles to relax. The patient can be in the moment and release tension and anxiety. And when a patient can relax, their pain is often lessened, and they may even feel peaceful and more prepared for the journey ahead.
According to a recent article by CBS News, few massage therapists specialize in working with people who are dying or have an advanced form of cancer or other illness. Less than 1% of massage therapists specialize in hospice or palliative care. The recent pandemic made it more difficult to recruit both paid and volunteer specialists.
Goodwin Hospice has been providing comprehensive, compassionate end-of-life care since 1998. Our non-profit, mission-driven hospice service is rooted in the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to live out their last days on their own terms. Our approach to hospice is holistic, and we integrate medical care with spiritual care and other services to meet individual needs.
With support from generous donors to the Goodwin Living Foundation , Goodwin Hospice offers integrative therapies that go above and beyond traditional hospice care. This philanthropic support makes it possible for us to serve each person with even greater, more personalized care. In addition to what is typically covered by health insurance, we offer additional services such as massage therapy to help patients and their families to live life more fully.
Goodwin Hospice is one of the only hospice programs in Northern Virginia to offer massage therapy at no additional cost. Our hospice team works directly with Healwell’s Service Director, Laura Bryant-Earner, and Healwell’s team of licensed massage therapists to deliver this care to our patients. The Healwell mission is to provide compassionate and skilled touch to everyone affected by illness, including those at end-of-life.
Healwell massage therapists are specially trained to safely work with patients and family members in hospitals and wherever a patient calls home. “Our therapists offer a supportive and non-disruptive presence,” shares Laura, “and family members and patients often report that they experience improvement to their quality of life.”
Our partnership with Healwell provides care that prioritizes personal connection and wellbeing. The son of a Goodwin Hospice patient said, “Mom considered her massage sessions one of the best things ever.” Another Goodwin Hospice patient thanked Cindy Rocca, one of Healwell’s massage therapists, with the following message, “God bless you. I have had so much fun with you today.”
Anyone who is receiving care from Goodwin Hospice can request massage therapy, and they will receive up to three sessions, which can be shared between patients and family members; they can also be used during the bereavement period. During a massage session, patients may fall asleep or laugh and make conversation.
“One comment we hear most often from patients is how much they enjoyed the company of our therapists,” shared Laura. “They can benefit from the social interaction as well as the therapeutic massage.”
Family members who are caregivers often benefit from sessions in multiple ways. They can attend to themselves or other business while their loved ones receive massage therapy. Family members who avail themselves of the massage sessions feel supported and cared for. Patients are grateful knowing their loved ones who receive massage therapy are being looked after.
Goodwin Hospice believes that providing massage therapy for our patients and their family members greatly enhances the quality of care received. Family members of Goodwin Hospice patients shared reactions to their personal experiences.
“The massages were soothing, Mom loved it. It was gentle. Mom had fibromyalgia so her sensitivity was high, but it calmed her.”
-the daughter of a Goodwin Hospice patient
“That was just wonderful, I feel I can move my left hand and wrist more.”
-Goodwin Hospice patient
“Thank you for being here and so lovingly caring for my father. Bless you.”
–the daughter of a Goodwin Hospice patient
Goodwin Hospice partners with Healwell to provide massage therapy offered by skilled therapists, thanks to the generous support of donors who give to the Hospice Fund of the Goodwin Living Foundation. Our Hospice Fund allows us to continuously add to our toolkit and offer therapies including massage and end-of-life doula care. We seek to grow our Hospice Fund so that we can continue to support our patients and their families in every way possible.
If you’d like to learn more about Goodwin Hospice, you can visit our hospice page, where you will also find ways to get in touch with our team.
As Hospice Gifts Officer, Erica Sadiq works with the Goodwin Living Foundation and Goodwin Hospice teams to lead and grow the fundraising efforts for our Hospice Fund. Erica draws inspiration from listening to the stories of those who are willing to share their Goodwin Hospice experience. These stories in turn inspire the generosity of others so that more people can benefit from our hospice program. Erica has over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising expertise. In July 2019, she became a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Before joining Goodwin Living, she led the development efforts of the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR). Erica enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting parks and taking road trips with her husband and two children.