“Starved of nurturing touch” – how Rowcroft is lending a hand to fill the gap

Touch is known as ‘the mother of all senses’; it can soothe, comfort and make us feel secure. Yet in this pandemic, we are being deprived of touch in ways that we have never before experienced. Due to social distancing and lockdown restrictions, some of us have gone many months without any human touch at all. There is growing evidence suggesting that the absence of touch can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing, exacerbating issues like anxiety and depression. For those suffering from life-limiting illness, it can be heart-breaking not to receive much-needed comfort and reassurance from loved ones through the usual language of touch – through cuddles, kisses and comforting pats and rubs and even holding hands.

Rowcroft is helping to fill the touch vacuum and provide some of this missing comfort through its complementary therapy services such as massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. In this blog, Rowcroft’s Complementary Therapist Julie Milton explains what Rowcroft is doing to help.

“With so much going on in the world it can be easy to forget the positive impact we have on our patients and their families every single day,” says Julie. “I recently visited a patient at home to give her a massage, a visit that was so deeply appreciated. The patient shared with me that over the last few months she ‘felt starved of nurturing touch’.

“As a Complementary Therapist, I am struck every day by how much we need touch, and how powerful an experience it can be. I am often amazed at the transformation I see in my patients after massage.”

Over recent months, the issue of the touch deprivation has emerged time after time. Rowcroft’s services are helping to plug the gap, fulfilling a basic need for the body to be nurtured through touch. Rowcroft’s touch therapies – massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and other therapies such as Reiki – are good for the mind, body and soul, helping to lift the spirits, relax the body, and supporting people to feel better about themselves and about life.

Julie and her team provide a range of complementary therapies to patients living with life-limiting illness and their families. As with all of Rowcroft’s services, these are offered for free, and many of the sessions are delivered by our team of trained and qualified volunteers. Therapies are provided to patients in their own homes across South Devon, as well as in Rowcroft’s Outpatient Centre and Inpatient Unit in Torquay.

“Our complementary therapies are designed to help ease stress and anxiety and promote relaxation,” says Julie. “During this pandemic, this has become more important than ever, as patients have worries and concerns not only about their illness, but also about the complex challenges of COVID.

“We have set in place a range of COVID-secure processes to ensure that we can continue to deliver our care in a way that’s safe for all involved – for our patients and families and for all our staff and volunteers. This means that we now wear personal protective equipment (PPE), we assess patients for COVID symptoms prior to seeing them, and we request that patients wear face coverings when they visit the Outpatient’s Centre. It’s important to do all of this to ensure that everyone is properly protected, and it’s enabling us to continue delivering our care safely.

“I have worked at Rowcroft for over 20 years now and I love my job.  The pace of recent change is unprecedented but our essential role in offering that reassuring nurturing touch is needed now more than ever.”

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