Volunteering as a Reiki Practitioner at JourneyCare is an incredibly rewarding and sacred experience.
Reiki is an ancient Japanese healing technique and a form of alternative medicine in which energy is channeled from the practitioner to the patient to enhance and rebalance the system physically, mentally and spiritually to reduce stress, pain, agitation and fatigue. Reiki is facilitated using either a very light touch or no touch with hands slightly off the body, providing a therapeutic option for those who are in pain or unable to be touched.
Life happens and for many of us that moment comes when the phone rings and suddenly our world is thrown upside down as we race to the rescue of a loved one or friend who has been diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness.
But you are not alone.
It's Patient Safety Awareness Week and JourneyCare is committed to the safety of those we serve. We're focusing this week on education to help reduce patient falls.
Our population of patients is at a higher risk for falls. Falls can lead to serious injuries that may impair mobility or lead to less independence. For those who want to live better and longer, appropriate steps need to be taken to prevent falls. JourneyCare clinicians have a role in promoting safety to prevent them. Their simple changes and suggestions for change to patients and caregivers about their surroundings can make a big impact.
JourneyCare team members have been exercising Patient Safety Awareness Week through a few different methods.
For National Professional Social Work Month, JourneyCare Social Worker Rachel Risler explains how hospice social workers provide compassionate care and support to patients with dementia and their loved ones.
I've been working as a social worker with the elderly population since 2004, the last five years at JourneyCare. I became a social worker specifically to work with patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Since making the move from long-term care to hospice care, I have been honored to share the journey of end-stage dementia with patients and families.
I started as an art therapy intern with JourneyCare in July. I initially felt nervous to begin working in hospice. In school, we were taught treatment planning over the course of months ̶ but with end-of life-care, it was potentially an expedited timeline. I knew that with some patients, I might only get to see them one time. I questioned how much of an impact I could possibly make having only one session with someone. I worried about the power such limited time could have.
JourneyCare's Soup & Stories initiative began five years ago when JourneyCare Juniors and adult volunteers from Barrington delivered containers of homemade soup, fleece blankets and conversation cards to the homes of JourneyCare patients on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Whenever Dr. Martin Luther King's Day of Service takes place, I am reminded of all the ways I can serve the community and make the world a better place. As a JourneyCare Youth Advisory Board Volunteer, one activity I love to participate in during this holiday is the Soup and Stories deliveries. If this initiative has taught me one lesson, it’s that a little can go a long way. Just a small package filled with soup, a blanket, and a card can brighten someone’s day and bring love, comfort and joy to a home.
Drawing on their musical and clinical palliative care training, music-thanatologists use harp and voice to address physical, emotional and spiritual suffering at the end of life. Using music prescriptively, they vary the tempo and tone of music to respond to changes occurring in a patient's body, like a slowing of pulse and breathing, in the final hours of life. During their visits — music vigils — they alternate sound and silence to help patients and loved ones relax and rest.
In my work as a music-thanatologist, there are certain vigils that stand out in such a way that leave me feeling especially grateful for what we are able to offer patients and families at this most critical and sacred time of their lives. At these times, I feel that I am at the right place at the right time and I am grateful for the deep connections made. The following narrative is from one of those vigils:
There are many family members present when I arrive at Jason’s home: his wife, Kim, two daughters Lucy and Naomi, his son-in-law and a baby. The kitchen is abuzz with conversation and planning. The sound of a television is coming from Jason’s room.
When it is time for me to enter the small, dimly lit room, Jason’s JourneyCare nurse is measuring his heart rate and oxygen levels, which are regular. Jason is lying on his back, supported with pillows and slightly turned toward his left side. His brow is smooth, his eyes are closed. He does not rouse to speech or touch. By now, only Kim and their two daughters remain in the room.
For massage therapists who care for hospice patients, the work we do is full of ongoing lessons and gifts. I’m continually reminded what a privilege it is to meet and participate in some small way in the lives of our patients — such diverse, interesting, wonderful, ordinary and extraordinary people. There is a bond that develops with physical touch through the understanding that as their massage therapist, I am there to make them feel better. They guide me to the best way to help them and I am there to listen and respond.
I’ve had the honor of working with many patients with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Due to the challenges that befall these patients, massage is a service that often makes good sense. When their muscles stop working as they once did, we can help stretch and massage those muscles to make them feel better for a little while. One such patient gave me delightful gifts of imagination and laughter, and lessons about an unfailing positive attitude and outlook that I will never forget.
Since joining JourneyCare as a hospice volunteer this past year, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a care companion for two patients so far and I am thoroughly enjoying my role. So, when I saw a request for an “elf” to accompany Santa to bring an early Christmas to a pediatric hospice patient this October, I immediately wanted to help.
Cielo was 17 years old suffering from a glioblastoma with her condition advancing, so she wished for an early Christmas. I was honored to be selected as a helper elf to accompany Santa and bring some Christmas joy to Cielo and her family.
For National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, JourneyCare is celebrating our thoughtful and caring staff and volunteers, who provide comfort and exceed expectations to make the holiday season joyful for our patients and their families.
As a Jewish Care Ambassador for JourneyCare, I’ve often thought of patients in our care during the holiday season and have felt badly that some of them, due to their advanced illnesses, are unable to enjoy the holidays to their fullest extent. This year as December begins, patients in our Jewish Care Services program will celebrate Chanukkah beginning the evening of Sunday, December 2 continuing through Sunday, December 9. Chanukkah is called the Festival of Lights, which is considered a joyous holiday and meant to remind us of the golden menorah in the time of the Temple with the miraculous jar of oil that lasted eight days.