A pause can change everything
By Valerie Hartman
I teach a class for hospice aides called Sensitive Bathing Practices. The training includes some instruction on massage techniques. Yesterday I spent three hours with four Holy Redeemer hospice aides. We shared a wonderful practice session that went a little like this:
‘Start with your right hand placed on the receiver’s right wrist. Place your left hand on the receiver’s shoulder. Sweep down the arm off the fingertips… ‘
The aides always show interest, stay focused, and place all of their attention on learning the sequences. They are concerned about thumb placement and pressure, and they start out worried about doing it right. The hospice aides touch with sensitivity every day, and yet in a new learning situation… they seemed a little tense. So we adapted the practice session to include the active practice of pausing.
‘Start with your right hand on the receiver’s wrist, pause there. Take a few of your own breaths and sit back. When you are ready, reach up and place your left hand on the receiver’s shoulder, rest it there before sweeping down off the fingertips. Hand hold. Pause, sit back and look at the sun outside of the window while you breathe.’
Adding the direction to ‘pause’ changed everything about the practice session, and caused me to reflect on the importance of practicing the ability to pause in so many situations that face hospice caregivers on a daily basis.
The ideal time to take a moment of reflection is in the middle of a care giving task. This is a moment that can give back to yourself during an activity of care that may start to feel as if it is all about your loved one. Care giving tasks can be about connection, and can benefit both the giver and receiver of care.
A pause can assist in three important ways:
- It temporarily forces your own body to drop some tension.
- It adds a dimension of calm by slowing the pace of activity.
- It forces a measure of personal connection in the silence and peacefulness of it.
And in the end, the task becomes an opportunity for both of you to benefit from a few moments of quiet and reflection, together.