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January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

Hand in Hand With Eldercare and Hospice

A Symposium to Expand Your Practice and Open Your Heart

By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR

For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of serving elders in facility care and hospice, as well as teaching others how to provide care through touch and massage. I dedicate this column to assisting anyone desiring a similar path of service and invite you to the 2009 Hand in Hand Symposium in Florida. Join others who envision a world where a healing presence in the form of touch is commonplace and every elderly, ill and dying person has access to the benefits of massage.

There is no better time to diversify your practice to serve this special population - to increase your clientele and your revenue and, at the same time, open your heart as you touch the lives of those in later-life stages. In an effort to work toward that vision, the Center for Compassionate Touch is organizing "Hand in Hand 2009: A Symposium Celebrating Massage Therapy in Eldercare and Hospice," to be held May 1-3 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Fla. The symposium is designed to be a forum for the creative exchange of ideas regarding program development, education, vision and shared resources between massage therapists and eldercare and hospice professionals and organizations.

Why now? In today's economic climate, many of us are looking for creative ways to thrive in our practices. Opportunities to pioneer and participate in the implementation of massage therapy in traditional and nontraditional health care settings are exploding. Three major trends point to this promising opportunity: (1) The Silver Tsunami created by the baby boomers reaching retirement age is happening now, creating the need for specialized services. (2) There is a growing number of eldercare facilities and hospices across the nation. (3) At the same time, there is dramatic competition among these health care organizations. Their "customers" (clients, caregivers, family members and federal regulators) are demanding that they look for innovative complementary services to improve quality of life. Massage therapy is an effective, non-pharmacological approach that answers this demand.

In the past decade, massage therapy has gained recognition and acceptance in mainstream health care settings like hospitals, clinics, eldercare facilities and hospices. Our profession is expanding to answer the growing demand for therapists with training to serve diverse special populations. Elders in long-term care and individuals in hospice care represent a growing clientele and specialized area of practice. As public awareness about the benefits of massage grows, hospices and long-term care facilities are recognizing the value of adding massage therapy to the programs and services they offer.

By attending Hand in Hand 2009, you will learn from leaders in our profession, as well as from experts in the fields of eldercare and hospice. The symposium will provide an excellent opportunity to develop relationships with potential employers and learn essential elements of program development and promotion of your services. While eldercare and retirement communities are discovering the value of massage therapy, they need guidance in program development, identifying incentives for offering massage services, or assistance in locating a massage therapist with the right set of skills.

"The symposium will provide an opportunity for professionals to learn about the application and importance of massage therapy being integrated into quality health care," said Don Spaulding, director of health services at the Mayflower Retirement Community in Winter Park, Fla. "Providing massage to elders and hospice patients as a skilled intervention is providing an additional level of comfort and allows one-on-one focused attention with the resident."

By joining hands with leaders in the fields of massage, eldercare and hospice, you can celebrate the mutual benefits of massage therapy and share your vision for the future of this pioneering work.

Hand in Hand 2009 is a ground-breaking event designed for massage therapists and eldercare and hospice professionals. By coming together to celebrate the mutual benefits of massage in these special settings, we uplift the lives of the individuals and communities we serve, as well as our own.

For more information on the upcoming symposium, please visit:

Click here for previous articles by Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.


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