Reiki Moves into Hospice and Home Health Care Spheres

Reiki for Hospice and Home Health Care

According to a 2012 report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, an estimated 1.65 million patients received service from hospice in 2011. In a 2004 report, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that nearly 1.4 million people were using home health care services. Couple these statistics, and the sheer numbers of people who fall under these two categories of treatment becomes clear: millions of patients each year choose at-home therapies, be it a hospice home or a personal one.

Reiki and Palliative Care

Beyond the patients, home care and hospice scenarios can affect caregivers. Dealing with terminally ill patients or loved ones can prove traumatic and tumultuous for even the best-prepared caregivers. Though proper medical treatment is paramount for providing care, often the goal of palliative therapy focuses more on comfort than a cure. For people suffering from terminal illness, Reiki may be able to provide that comfort. Furthermore, Reiki can be an important self-practice for caregivers in palliative or hospice fields where grief can sidle up to negative feelings of burnout and fatigue.

Reiki is Gaining Momentum in the Health Care System

As a complementary treatment, Reiki is becoming more and more popular in the spheres of hospice, palliative, and home care. In 2012, the Penn Wissahickon Hospice, part of the greater University of Pennsylvania health system, rolled out a volunteer Reiki program to test its efficacy and results in a hospice setting. Interested volunteers were given guidance and training to graduate as Reiki practitioners in the first degree before performing Reiki sessions tailored to each patient’s individual needs. In exchange for free training, volunteers agreed to give four hours worth of Reiki sessions each month, according to the Penn Medicine News blog. One of two pilot Reiki programs that year, the hospice volunteer program coincided with the incorporation of Reiki at Abramson Cancer Center, another subsidiary of the University of Pennsylvania health care system. Similarly, hospitals like Lancaster General in Lancaster, Penn., and Care Alternatives hospices (with offices from New Jersey to California), have included Reiki treatment into their overall health initiatives.

Reiki for Health Care Providers

Reiki also has shown promise in providing comfort and care for health professionals. In February, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee offered a two-day course for healthcare professionals outlining the benefits of Reiki and even equipping conference-goers with training to administer Reiki firsthand. Though aimed specifically at students and professionals within the College of Health Sciences at UW, the conference is a microcosm of a growing trend of Reiki as a beneficial complement to traditional Western medicine. Moreover, the opportunity to learn Reiki represents an opportunity to grow spiritually, particularly as a professional caregiver. For instance, in a recent article featured in the Creative Nursing Journal at UCLA, author and registered nurse Glenda Watson Natale notes that nurses in particular “are positioned to lead the integration of energy therapies into the biomedical model.” Reiki explores the concept of a transpersonal, caring model of healthcare that can help not only patients, but also nurses themselves, says Natale, who estimates that some 300,000 nurses practice energy therapies. In fact, a 2006 study from researchers Synder and Lyndquist included in Natale’s article found that nurse Reiki practitioners reported “increased satisfaction with their nursing roles as well as increased touch sensitivity, perception, and assessment skills.”

A personal journey

Reiki itself harnesses an innate desire within humans to learn from one another and pass along information. In this vein, anyone can learn Reiki and disperse its tenets and healing properties to patients or loved ones.

Find a Reiki Master Teacher

The first step in achieving Reiki status is finding a qualified Reiki Master Teacher. The Registered Reiki Professional Locator at https://iarp.org is a highly utilized and valuable resource for health practitioners, the medical communities, and the general public worldwide. One interested in Reiki may wish to inquire about a master’s teachings, background, specialties, and class specifics before beginning training. A Reiki master will gladly provide this information before administering about six to twelve hours worth of Reiki teachings, a typical amount needed for first degree practice. After completing first-degree training, a person can typically complete Reiki sessions on family members, making it an ideal and easily attainable goal for home health caregivers. Moreover, with first-degree Reiki training, a person can administer Reiki on himself, a particularly worthy advantage for caregivers facing the stress and emotional uncertainty of watching over terminally ill patients.

Reiki for Self Care

Self-care Reiki may be especially beneficial to people in the stressful scenarios that often accompany caregiving. As an energy healing therapy, Reiki can strengthen well-being while reducing anxiety and fatigue. Additionally, the power of healing touch is a refreshing alternative to invasive, drug-based care regimens that so often become normative for caregivers of terminal, often elderly patients: the CDC notes that of the million plus patients in home health care, more than 70 percent are age 65 or over. It is no coincidence, then, that in 2011, the federal Administration on Aging awarded a $250,000 grant to Home Care Partners, a nonprofit home care agency, to offer Reiki to elderly patients with dementia.

The Benefits of Reiki for Hospice and Home Health Care

Whether as an effective self-care tool or a new addition to medical treatments, Reiki benefits both patients and caregivers in hospice and home health care scenarios. The recent prevalence of Reiki-inclusive volunteer programs shows that Reiki is on an upward trend of gaining ever greater acceptance as an effective holistic therapy in complement to mainstream medical care. Coupled with its ease of training and plethora of uses at home and in the wider medical and lay communities, Reiki becomes especially viable as a comforting, stress-relieving solution for anyone in hospice or health home care situations.

**This article appeared in The Reiki Times, the official magazine of the International Association of Reiki Professionals.

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