Volunteers are the champions of compassion within the hospice care continuum. They provide non-medical assistance in the form of socialization and companionship. This can range from simple things like reading, conversing and running errands – to more specialized services as listed below.

Massage Therapy

Why is touch so powerful?
The reason why is intertwined with life and death.
It is based on the recognition that the tactile experiences are the very first sensations which greet us at birth and are also the last perceptions to leave us when we die.
Touch has been known to penetrate the nonverbal state in patients who are unable to speak.
At times, patients may reduce their demand for drugs when massage is an integral part of the treatment protocol.

With the gift of human contact studies have shown patients :

  • Emotional well-being has increased
  • Limitations due to physical issues have decreased
  • Limitations due to emotional issues have decreased

How is massage therapy different in hospice care?
We emphasize geriatric massage techniques which are directed toward the amelioration of pain, rather than vigorous approaches of deep tissue work or acupressure.


A healing art that works under the premise that we are energetic beings and sometimes our energy gets blocked by illness or trauma.

Reiki can be traced back to Tibet. It was reintroduced in Japan in the 1920’s and brought to the US in 1937.
Reiki is a non-invasive treatment provided through the positioning of the practitioner’s hands placed on or just above the fully clothed body including areas around the head, shoulders, stomach, legs and feet.

The amazing gifts Reiki has been known to provide a person nearing the end of their physical life are:

  • Decreased pain
  • Stress relief
  • Emotional and spiritual balance
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Induce sleep – lessens insomnia
  • Increased circulation

Sessions can last from ten minutes to more than an hour, depending upon available time.

Music Therapy

'...an interpersonal process in which a trained music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health.'

The American Music Therapy Association

Research has shown that music is the first outside sensation that registers with a developing fetus and the last that registers with us when we die.

Uses for Music Therapy

Depression, isolation and loneliness
Anger and agitation
Inappropriate coping skills
Behavior management
Limited range of motion
Fear and anxiety
Sorrow, hopelessness, and bereavement
Family communication breakdowns
Unresolved life issues
Pain management
Respiratory distress
Spiritual concerns

How Music Therapy Helps

Reminiscence – focus on assets and positive experiences
Identify and express emotions
Life review with assessment of actions
Increased socialization
Maintain/improve physical comfort
Permit discussion around dying/death issues
Explore religious/tradition musical associations
Reality orientation/thought organization
Assessment of physical/mental capabilities
Support independent thinking/decision making
Develop effective coping skills
Improve self esteem
Gain insight into problems/situations
Mood management
Medium for closure
Provide distraction during difficult situations / procedures
Muscle relaxation
Regain sense of control
Acknowledgement of spirituality
Pain relief

Pet Therapy

Contact with therapy pets in many cases can trigger the release of endorphins in a person’s brain thereby significantly reducing the patient’s anxiety.
There is no doubt the positive effect that pet therapy provides in lives of the ill, grieving or withdrawn.

Seen benefits of Pet Therapy are:

  • Improved eating. Dementia patients have been shown to eat more following a visit.
  • Reduced agitation. Agitation behaviors, common among dementia patients, are reduced in the presence of a dog.
  • Promote Physical activity. Depending on a patient’s mobility, they may be able to groom the animal, toss a ball, or even go for a short walk.
  • Pleasure. Some patients simply enjoy the presence of the dog and its human companion, as well as the tricks therapy dogs can do.

Art Therapy

Art can produce a powerful release of feelings that can be healing to the mind, body and spirit.
The process of dying is a unique and vulnerable time, as our patients near the end of their physical journey, Art Therapy can allow freedom to express their mood, emotions or thoughts.
Whether the activity involves putting a brush or just a hand to paper or assembling images into a collage, Art Therapy can be used as a healing outlet for life’s coming transition.

Common goals of art therapy include:

  • Relaxation
  • Stress relief
  • Providing insight on emotions
  • Encouraging communication

The artwork created is pure and honestly leaving behind beautiful memories.


Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to decrease pain, anxiety, depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being.

Aromatherapy has been found to:

Physical symptoms
Side effects of chemotherapy
Psychological distress/provide emotional support

Stress and tension
Promote relaxation
Improve sleep patterns
Improve well-being and quality of life