Tidewell Complementary Services offers a full array of special programs that bring quality of life to those with advanced illness. A variety of therapies — used together with conventional medicine — are designed to facilitate stress reduction, pain relief and distraction, opportunities for joy and healing of psycho-social issues for patients and their families.
Expressive Art is about the process of creating art. It is art that diverts patients’ attention from the symptoms that might be causing stress and redirects it into the creative process. Several patients have stated: “When I am working with art, I forget about my pain.” Some have reached the point that they can say: “When I feel pain coming on, I get out my art project and work on that until the pain goes away.”
Expressive arts facilitators work directly with patients. They also train staff, family and volunteers in various expressive art techniques.
There is definitely a correlation between the rhythm of music and the rhythm of the human body. Music has the ability to bring the body into harmony when it is stressed and can serve as a “gatekeeper” in controlling pain. Music works on the left side of the brain and blocks the neural transmitters that carry pain signals. This allows the right side of the brain to take over and create images and feelings of peace. Music encourages the body to release its own endorphins to help stop pain.
Tidewell’s talented and committed volunteer musicians make regular visits to the Hospice Houses and go to other facilities as requested. Volunteers and staff are trained in the use of music for relaxation and reminiscence. On special occasions, guest performers may also participate.
Since 2001, Tidewell has offered horticultural interventions. The primary goals of the program are to use plants and gardening activities to reduce stress and discomfort, alleviate depression and feelings of boredom and loneliness, facilitate communication between patients and their visitors, and enable patients to regain a sense of control by offering plants to care for and grow as living legacies.
Each Hospice House has a “sensory stimulation” garden comprised of scented roses and fragrant herbs, as well as a butterfly garden. A sensory garden is a tremendous advantage for those with vision impairment, the elderly, those suffering from depression, those with mental and physical limitations and victims of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.
Tidewell’s Horticultural Facilitators visit patients, manage herb gardens and identify volunteer opportunities for social interaction with patients and families in our Hospice Houses. Other volunteers maintain floral arrangements for the Hospice Houses and work with the facilitators to keep the gardens in good repair.
Touching an animal can bring back memories and trigger discussion — sometimes in patients who haven’t spoken for months. Volunteers in Tidewell’s pet therapy program believe the best pain relief often comes when the mind is occupied with something comforting. Studies have shown that after 10 minutes of settling down together — pet and person — blood pressure drops for both.
Tidewell’s pet therapy volunteers are specially trained in pet visitations. After undergoing hospice volunteer training, they attend pet therapy orientation and pet evaluation. Pets are evaluated for their temperament and owners are evaluated for their ability to control their animals. All Tidewell pet therapy dogs are certified and insured by Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.
Currently, more than 100 pets make scheduled visits to the Hospice Houses, nursing homes and patient residences.
Since 2001, Tidewell’s clowns have been officially recognized as an official clown alley by “Clowns of America International.” It remains the only hospice-affiliated clown alley in the U.S.
Boasting 17 active volunteers, Tidewell clowns are very busy. In addition to hospice volunteer training, they receive 18 hours of clown basics — costuming, makeup and specific aspects of hospice clowning. They meet monthly to discuss upcoming events and schedule educational events to keep their skills fresh. They regularly visit area nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and anywhere their presence is requested. They are a favorite for community events, giving Tidewell a positive way to present its many offerings to the public.
Therapeutic massage is known for its contribution to pain and stress management and for evoking an overall relaxation response. Pain control is often a primary concern for individuals who have progressively debilitating diseases, and massage has proven useful as a therapy for any condition that includes a stress component.
Licensed massage therapists oversee and supervise consultations. Current licenses are mandatory, and education and review of policy for treatments, including contraindications, are on-going.
In addition to therapeutic massage delivered by licensed massage therapists, Tidewell also offers Reiki and Caring Touch to patients and families.
Reiki is a holistic method of healing, functioning on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels to promote a sense of wholeness and well-being. It is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that is administered by “laying on hands,” and channeling the unseen “life force energy.” Reiki I and Reiki II are taught by Reiki Masters on a regular basis to volunteers and staff.
The goal of Caring Touch is to nurture and support clients as partners in their care. It employs slow rhythmic stroking, extremely light holds and circular strokes. The caregivers intuition and intention are stressed in imparting empathy and love. Caring Touch can be performed by volunteers who have been trained by a certified instructor.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to benefit the mind, body and spirit. The oils may be calming, antiseptic, stimulating or meditative. In the hospice setting, aromatherapy is used for relaxation, restlessness and odor elimination from patient rooms.
Tidewell also uses specially blended lotion, designed to relieve terminal restlessness. This “Tranquility Lotion” contains the essential oils rosewood, myrrh, frankincense, ylang ylang and other essences in a very soothing base. Volunteers are trained to use the Tranquility Lotion, along with Caring Touch, in their vigil workshops.