I Am Living

Why is touch important?

Massage therapists trained in palliative care massage have a flexible approach that allows them to always meet the needs of persons. Massage therapy is a targeted application of touch, either applied directly to the skin or through clothing, generally focusing on soft tissue. This is important in managing physical and emotional symptoms

A gentle touch conveys a sense of care, provides comfort, and establishes a connection between individuals. It is even more important when a person has lost other senses, such as sight, hearing and speech.

Does massage therapy complement other treatments?

Individual treatment plans need to be tailored to suit a person’s goals, needs and interests and often incorporate conventional medical treatment as well as other therapies (for example massage). Professional massage therapy promotes person’s wellbeing.

Massage therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, art therapy, and psychotherapy, to name a few.

Complementary therapies, such as massage, are not a substitute for conventional medicine.

Is massage recommended when the patient is palliative?

Massage therapy for a palliative person should be provided by a professional who has been specifically trained in working with palliative care clients.

Adapted techniques will be used depending on the client’s state of health and symptoms. There is generally less pressure applied to the strokes than in a remedial massage.  The therapist may also avoid certain areas of the person’s body, such as massaging near an attached medical device.

As part of palliative care massage, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, polarity therapy, reiki, relaxation massage, therapeutic massage, touch for health or tuina may be used.

There are specialised treatments such as manual lymphatic drainage that can be used to treat oedema and lymphoedema. To reduce swelling in affected areas, manual lymphatic drainage is usually combined with compression bandaging, decongestive exercises, and compression garments. The therapists offering these treatments will have undergone specific training in lymphoedema management.

Is full medical information disclosure required?

The therapist may adapt their approach based on the medical history summary and the expectations for the massage. During a massage, the therapist may discuss positioning, the use of a massage table, chair or recliner, pressures, techniques, oils/creams, the duration of the massage, and what areas of the body to avoid.

It is the responsibility of the person to disclose all medical information to a private massage therapist, so they can tailor the treatment to the person’s specific needs. If the massage therapist works for a hospital or community-based health organisation, they may already have access to the person’s complete medical records.

What are the benefits of palliative massage therapy?

In many cases, massage is said to promote a stronger connection between the body and mind. Each person journey is unique. While some people living with a life-limiting illness find that massage therapy assists with feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, nausea, pain and stress, others may not.

Who delivers the massage?

Whenever a person engages an independent therapist, they should ensure the therapist is properly trained and has the experience to work with them safely.

The therapist should hold a Diploma of Remedial Massage or equivalent qualification. It is very important that the therapist successfully completed training in oncology massage and/or palliative care massage. Additionally, therapists should hold a valid First Aid Certificate, membership in a professional massage association, and professional indemnity and public liability insurance are also required.

Some hospitals offer massage therapy services to their inpatients. In community-based palliative care, nursing or allied health staff may refer people to massage therapy or suggest massage therapy if they believe it will relieve symptoms.

Is palliative care massage therapy safe?

When provided by a massage therapist or myotherapist who has received special training in working safely with palliative care clients, gentle and appropriate massage can be an extremely helpful complementary therapy for those who have been diagnosed with a chronic or end stage terminal illness. All stages of illness can be supported by massage therapy.

Pediatric massage

Children and young people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, regardless of their age, may benefit from massage therapy. A massage therapist generally welcomes the presence of the parent during the massage where the therapist may demonstrate safe and gentle massage techniques that can help the parent support the child during times of discomfort.

Massage therapy and oncology

People receiving cancer treatment require the services of massage therapists who have received training in oncology massage, so that they can customise the massage according to their needs.

The therapist will establish a treatment plan based on the person’s diagnosis, symptoms, conventional medical treatment, medications, and desired outcomes.

Metastasis is a biological process, not a result of massage. During a massage, pressure is never applied directly over a tumour site, and the massage will always be adjusted to promote a state of relaxation for the client.

Acupuncture in palliative care

To be developed.

Aromatherapy in palliative care

To be developed.

Art Therapy in palliative care

To be developed.

Meditation in palliative care

To be developed.

Music Therapy in palliative care

To be developed.

Rituals in palliative care

To be developed.