A Volunteer’s Rewarding Experience with Massage and Energy Therapy

  • Published: October 7th, 2012
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As part of providing the best day of patient care every day, San Diego Hospice is proud to have a volunteer team composed of licensed massage therapists. Massage offers patients pain relief, reduces anxiety, blood pressure, and depression and provides them with a heartfelt, physical connection.

Joanie Shannon, a patient care and massage volunteer (shown in the photo with her husband Dave), describes the transformational benefits of massage in her hospice work:

“My work as a patient care Volunteer with San Diego Hospice has changed my life. A little over two years ago, shortly after completing the volunteer training, I accepted my first patient assignment. My patient was a gentle, elderly man who had battled Alzheimer’s for many years. His verbal skills were very limited and he was confined to a wheelchair. During one visit, I summoned the courage to place my hand on top of his. He allowed me to leave it there and we sat like that for a long time.  After that, our time together always included the simple, sacred act of holding each others’ hands in silence.

“As more time passed, I began to notice how his mood seemed to change whenever I touched him. When I took his hand I could sense his body relaxing and his face softening. One day as I gently applied lotion to his hands, in a clear, strong voice he exclaimed “Thank you, that feels wonderful!” I was utterly astonished. Weeks had passed without him saying a word, yet he had just spoken a complete sentence.  In that instant, it was as if a door to another place had been nudged open, allowing me a glimpse at something I had never seen. I had reached a part of this man with my hands in a way my words had failed to do.”

Following this experience, Joanie decided to enroll in an introductory course about Healing Touch and went on to become a state-certified Massage Therapist. Joanie notes:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that volunteering with hospice patients would lead me down this road. Thinking back to the first time I saw my patient, sitting alone and silent in his wheelchair, I wondered if it was going to be possible for me to make a difference in his life. Little did I know the difference he would make in mine.”

If you or someone you know is a licensed massage therapist looking for a meaningful way to share your talents with those in need, please consider becoming a massage volunteer for San Diego Hospice. For more information, visit San Diego Hospice at www.sdhospice.org or contact the Volunteer Resources Department at volunteer@sdhospice.org or 619-278-6451.

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