Integrative Therapy Team at Pathways Home Health
Esther Johnson, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN, Pathways Home Health, Hospice and Private Duty. Inc., Hospice Nurse Case Manager and Integrative Therapies Nurse
In the San Francisco, California bay area, patients and families wanted more alternative methods of pain and symptom management in Home Care and Hospice. In 2002, Pathways Home Health, Hospice and Private Duty, created the Integrative Therapy Team, which emerged as part of a new initiative in the agency.
An integrative therapies specialist, Esther educates the clinical staff on integrating complementary and alternative medicine into end-of-life caretaking with techniques such as aromatherapy, guided imagery, music, and comfort touch. She also spends one week each summer as a nurse for Malibu’s Camp Heartland, a camp for children with HIV/AIDS issues.
Pathways now uses non-pharmacologic pain and symptom management strategies which extend to patients and families. Therapies include different types of relaxation skills, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, Reiki, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Music, aromatherapy and creative expression, which includes journaling, memory books, art supplies, and other types of creative activities. The use of aromatherapy includes essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Lavender is used to promote rest or relaxation and decrease anxiety. Grapefruit essence is effective in alleviating depression and stimulating appetite. Peppermint oil is used as a digestive aid and is helpful in controlling nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or odors. Oftentimes, they integrate the use of these alternative remedies with traditional medical strategies.
Pathways is one of the largest community- based, not for profit Home Care and Hospice agencies in the bay area, with a daily census of approximately 350 patients. Pathways is not a facility, but rather provides care by making staff visits to patients in their home or residence.