Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with Alena Dailey, Integrative Arts Manager for Hospice of the Chesapeake while hosting AGE-u-cate's quarterly chat for Compassionate Touch® coaches. Have you ever connected with someone and instantly felt a sense of comfort? Like you've known this person forever, but you just met? That's what it was like talking to Alena! She's passionate about elevating quality of life for elders and creative in how to accomplish her mission. Here's a simple yet powerful quote from Alena:
“A lot of people forget patients still need human touch”
If you aren't familiar, Compassionate Touch®, it's an approach combining skilled touch and specialized communication shown to prevent stress reactions for people living with dementia, and enhance quality of life for those in later stages of life.
So, how does Alena use Compassionate Touch® to live out the mission of Hospice of the Chesapeake?
In a recent follow-up, I asked this very question. Let's hear from Alena:
Tell us about the mission of Hospice of the Chesapeake as well as your specific role.
Hospice of the Chesapeake’s mission is caring for life throughout the journey will illness and loss. I have the honor of serving as the Integrative Arts Manager. Integrative arts connects our patients with Compassionate Touch, reiki, pet therapy, music and much more through the expertise of our generous volunteers. We believe the hand is a connection to the heart.
You are a Compassionate Touch Coach, how does Compassionate Touch® support your mission?
Compassionate Touch supports our mission to always provide a compassionate presence for our hospice patients. This process allows our volunteers to connect with our patients on a different and more personal level. We often hear that volunteers providing Compassionate Touch to a patient is often the only human connection they might have that day and it provides a sense of ease. Hospice patients and their families often feel very isolated due to the stigma associated with illness and dying.
Can you share a story with us about recent use of education to engage your local community?
A recently trained volunteer joined me at a local nursing center to provide compassionate touch to a group of residents. They quickly responded and were at ease as well as connecting to each other. They shared that they haven’t felt connected in some time especially since the isolating impact of the pandemic. The residents said they were accustomed to the nurses providing care, but the compassionate touch experience helped them feel connected and at ease on a different level. The nursing team was so impressed by the impact on their residents they asked if we could provide the compassionate touch for their staff as well.
Anything else you'd like to share about hospice providers using education programs to support those you serve?
Compassionate Touch has helped build relationships between volunteers and their patients empowering them to connect in ways they might not have previously. Additional integrative arts programs like reiki, pet therapy and music allow patients and their families begin to process the reality of their advanced illness and face overwhelming situations in a safe and comfortable way.
This quote from my conversation with Alena speaks volumes to me, and I hope it resonates with you as well. When we invest the time, energy, and resources to elevate human connection beyond clinical touch, we open doors to elevating the quality of overall care and well-being; not only for those we serve, but for healthcare professionals as well.
"The residents said they were accustomed to the nurses providing care, but the Compassionate Touch experience helped them feel connected and at ease on a different level. The nursing team was so impressed by the impact on their residents they asked if we could provide Compassionate Touch for their staff as well."
To learn more about the Compassionate Touch program, visit www.ageucate.com/compassionatetouch or view the on-demand video.