By Walle Adams-Gerdts, RN, BA, CHt, HTCP/I
In 2008, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE started the journey to become an innovative leader in pediatric healthcare institutions, establishing the first Healing Touch Program and staff position in the tri-state area of DE, PA, and MD. The part-time position afforded the Healing Touch Certified Practitioner (HTCP) sixteen hours per week to provide Healing Touch to recommended patients and their caregivers.
Education of medical and support staff was a key step and accomplished through presentations offered at noon rounds, department meetings, local area and hospital conferences and unit offered experiential activities. The HTCP was also employed as a direct care nurse on the bone and blood marrow transplant unit, allowing the opportunity to work directly with staff, attending physicians, and residents to raise awareness of the therapy.
As interest and curiosity grew, Healing Touch classes were offered for staff and all interested individuals in the surrounding communities. Nemours employees were encouraged to attend and adjusted tuition fees were applied, as the HTCP had achieved Instructor status and was therefore teaching as a financially compensated staff member. In addition, the hospital supported attendance through paying for an associates’ tuition out of unit-based education approved funding. This approach allowed the staff to become more familiar with Healing Touch and how it could be of value to the patients and families.
In the Summer of 2011, a request was made to the hospital’s administration to have the HTCP position changed to a full-time position. After the creation of a business plan, along with letters of support from attending physicians in different departments, it was determined that this would be in the best interest of patients and families. The support of nursing administration was imperative in the success of this proposal, and the standardized and credentialed Healing Touch Program curriculum, together with the American Nurses Credential Center recognition, integrated well as a professional therapy addition in the Magnet bound hospital. In January 2012, the HTCP full-time position was approved.
Shortly thereafter, the energy began to flow quickly and Healing Touch classes were offered monthly, at varying levels depending upon the needs of the students. A Healing Touch committee was also organized to create and submit a procedures document for quality and standards control. This included a computerized documentation form, as well as an informed consent document that would be scanned into patient electronic medical records. In addition, Healing Touch therapy was listed in existing plans of care for pain, anxiety, increased comfort, and nausea control.
As of February 2013, there are eighty trained students of Healing Touch (level one and up) at Nemours with more to follow. There are also three Healing Touch Certified Practitioners in the hospital with five additional associates in the process of completing their certification requirements. Research projects and pilot programs are in the final planning stages with the neurology and gastrointestinal departments.
As the staff continues to become aware of the importance of self-care through “Days of Caring” on individual units and in hospital wide offerings and the program becomes more integrated into the traditional western medical model, the possibilities for Healing Touch are endless.
At Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, associates are encouraged to care for the children who come to Nemours as if they “were our own.” We are proud to offer Healing Touch as another means for successful attainment of this goal!