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Joliet Area Community Hospice

Complementary Therapies


At Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) we aim to address every need of our patients and families, so we take a holistic approach in the care we provide our patients. The Complementary Therapy Department is made up of four significantly different disciplines to help meet our patients’ emotional, physical, and mental health needs. This department includes:

Aroma Therapy: AT JACH we utilize the power of essential oils as complementary therapy.  The use of aromatherapy will ignite the limbic system in the brain responsible for memory and emotions. It is a wonderful way to aid the body naturally.   Most of the oils are used aromatically, however our massage therapists incorporate essential oils topically into patients’ massage when necessary.

Art Therapy:  “Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship,” (American Art Therapy Association).

Art therapy provides emotional and mental health support for patients, families, and the bereaved in our community. Facilitated by a masters-level professional who honors the individual’s values and beliefs, art therapy engages the mind and body using sensory, symbolic, and kinesthetic means, in addition to, and sometimes in lieu of, verbal communication. Participants need not be familiar with, nor good at, art. The experience of creating art in art therapy is about the process; not the product.

Art therapy for hospice patients often addresses intense emotions evoked at end of life, processing their past, or leaving a lasting legacy for loved ones.

Art therapy for family members often addresses grief or anticipatory grief needs and involves emotional exploration and understanding, learning effective ways of coping, and practicing remembering and memorializing their loved one.

Massage Therapy: Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of soft body tissues to enhance a person’s health and well-being.  The massage therapists at JACH are skilled in many different bodywork techniques to best suit the patient’s needs.  Some of the techniques we use are:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD): A unique gentle technique that improves lymphatic circulation and blood flow.  Patients who have had surgery (especially cancer treatments that require lymph node removal), autoimmune conditions or congestive heart failure, may experience swelling of the arms and legs.  MLD therapy reduces the swelling, bringing relief for this painful condition.
  • Acupressure:  Acupressure is often thought of as simply acupuncture without the needles.  It uses precise finger placement and pressure over specific points along the body.  A patient who is experiencing nausea, headaches or anxiety may benefit from acupressure.
  • Reflexology: The application of pressure to areas of the feet, hands and ears.  The theory behind reflexology is that areas of the feet, hands or ears correspond to organs and systems of the body.  Reflexology allows the therapist to “massage” the entire body by only touching the hands, feet or ears.  Patients who are experiencing constipation, depression or are in need of stress relief may benefit from reflexology.
  • Geriatric Massage:  Designed to be used specifically for the elderly, geriatric massage uses gentle, light massage techniques that may include passive stretching.  Patients who have restricted joint mobility, have arthritic pain, constipation or are touch deprived may benefit from geriatric massage.

Music Therapy:  In hospice, music therapy can help address many different symptoms including pain, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, respiratory distress, and sensory deficit. In addition to alleviating physical symptoms, credentialed music therapists can also provide emotional support to help patients address anxiety, isolation and loneliness, depression, and anticipatory grief. In addition, music often brings back many memories, and offers an opportunity for a patient and family to engage in life review and reminiscence. Credentialed music therapists can also provide support to patients and their families in the very last moments of life, often assisting in creating a peaceful environment.

Patients who receive music therapy do not need to have any musical experience or background. The board-certified music therapists at JACH individualize music therapy interventions and activities to reach goals and complement the interdisciplinary team.  An example of a music therapy visit may be the therapist utilizing patient preferred music to increase relaxation and mindfulness. Another may be the music therapist helping a patient compose a song to help express emotions while leaving a personalized legacy. Each visit is unique and individualized to the needs of the patient being seen.

To request a complementary therapy for a patient in our care, please speak with your JACH nurse or social worker.