A Holistic Approach

CHRISTUS HomeCare and Hospice-Spohn nurtures the mind, body and spirit of hospice patients and their families and promotes comfort on a holistic level.

By: Liz Boatwright

Three religious sisters had a vision and traveled from France and settled in Galveston. It was there they founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and opened the first Catholic hospital in Texas. This was the beginning of CHRISTUS and the beginning of CHRISTUS HomeCare and Hospice-Spohn. In 1983, Corpus Christi opened the first hospice in the community. It would not only be the first hospice in the community, but the first and only faith-based.

The mission and values are to call and respect the faith and beliefs of patients and families. For that reason, CHRISTUS Hospice-Spohn believes in the holistic approach when managing pain and symptoms. More and more hospice programs are recognizing the therapies and integrating the holistic approach in addition to the conventional medical care.

The complementary therapies are designed to nurture the body, mind and spirit, but most importantly, to help the patients and families promote comfort on a holistic level. It is not intended to replace the medical director, the social worker or the spiritual care of the team, but rather, to increase participation and communication between the team, patient and family. Once therapy begins, patients often feel more in control of their lives even while on hospice care, because they engage more with their families, and they are more relaxed and pain free.

Hospice patients most often experience a high level of pain and discomfort, which can cause a disconnection between them and their loved ones. Fortunately, there are several forms of therapy designed for hospice patients. Therapists have used different and specific types to help reduce pain or alleviate a patient’s symptoms.

Through gentle and specialized care by highly trained professionals, patients coping with pain can restore the experience of touch through massage therapy, reflexology, healing touch, Reiki and aromatherapy. Through these forms of therapies, clinicians can reduce the pain, anxiety and other symptoms for patients with a life-limiting illness.

Comfort touch therapy is a form of nurturing therapy designed for the elderly, ill or frail patients. The techniques are a gentle touch to help soothe the nerves system, ease stress and promote deep relaxation.

Palliative massage/touch therapy is a therapeutic massage technique provided by a licensed massage therapist to relieve pain, muscle tension and other specific symptoms such as nausea or constipation.

Reiki is a technique for stress reduction and relaxation and also known to promote healing. Exercised by “laying on hands,” it is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through the body. It promotes happiness and the feeling of being healthy, and it reduces stress when the person’s energy is lifted.

Aromatherapy is defined as the art and science of naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the body, mind and spirit. The purpose of this therapy is to unite the physiological, psychological and spiritual being to improve the patient’s healing process.

Other forms of therapy are music and pet therapy. The sound of music and the presence of pets can bring peace and comfort at bedside. It’s important to remember hospice patients could use any form of companionship, even if it’s discussing an old tune or the unconditional love of a four-legged friend.

The popularity of complementary therapy is increasing each year. Few hospice agencies are incorporating such therapy into their programs to relieve suffering and improve quality of life, but it won’t be long before all agencies begin to recognize the importance of the holistic value of end-of-life care.

CHRISTUS Hospice and Palliative Care-Spohn recognized the importance in 2005. Since then, our hospice patients have experienced the benefits of massage therapy. The value of quality of life is our mission. We stand behind our purpose and our mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ at CHRISTUS for our patients and our families.


For more information, please call 361-994-3400, send a fax to 361-994-3498 or visit www.christushomecare.org.


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