Find Time for Compassion

Care of frail elders is often reduced to the completion of tasks. Caregivers caught in the frenzy of tasks should make time to provide the compassionate part of care- expressive touch.

I’ve been contemplating the chronic state of lack of time that so many feel these days.   We allow ourselves to think that more time will permit exercise or completing that project.

Lack of time is   a reason given for the inability to incorporate expressive touch into the care we provide our frail elderly residents.  Rachelle  Blough Kowalczyk,  Memory Care & Life Enrichment Consultant touched on the need for care workers to slow down.

Nursing assistants don’t have time to sit with a resident because they are always called away.  Nurses  have too much paperwork and medications to pass, and Social Workers have too many meetings.

These are the reasons expressive touch is mostly absent from the care we provide to our residents, yet it is such a necessary component of quality of life.   Making time is a big culprit.

Making Compassion a Priority

Many seasoned nurses state that at one time, back and foot rubs were a part of the care protocols.  One such nurse challenged her nurse colleagues during training to find the time to offer expressive touch to their residents.

This  nurse shared her experience  working in a large ward in England where she cared for over 50 patients.   Paper charts and hand-counted pills didn’t stop her from offering back rubs.  It was good medicine,  and would help her patients heal and feel better.

There are eye-opening moments in most Compassionate Touch training sessions when the learners realize how little time it takes to offer expressive touch!

Finding time is possible.   Consider a pocket of time 10-20  minutes before the end of a shift (when the cell phones usually come out). Think about the rest time after lunch and offer a back rub prior to assisting a resident to bed.

Ancillary personnel can also engage in expressive touch with residents if trained properly.   To that end, work together as a multi-disciplinary team to find time to improve the quality of life for your residents,  and your staff.

For more information about spreading the power of compassionate touch to your community, visit

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

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