Nurturing Touch for Children with Life-Limiting Conditions

Children with complex health issues often have very negative experiences of touch, explains Barbara Moore, a Massage and Story Massage Instructor who believes passionately in sharing the pleasure and benefits of positive, nurturing touch. Barbara, pictured below, right, has recently won our Story Massage Best Practice Award for her work with children with sensory impairments and life-limiting conditions.

Sensory Stories about Hobbies

“Story Massage is a very powerful way of promoting the benefits of nurturing touch,” says Barbara, a former Children and Family support worker, “An example is the Pony Club massage story that I wrote for a child with a life-limiting condition and sensory impairment. It was developed to help her remember the good days she spent at her favorite pastime – Pony Club. The idea can be adapted for other hobbies.”

Pony Club Massage Story

Do you remember when we went to pony club? (The Circle)

We had a really good time. (The Half-Circle)

We went in the car. (The Bounce)

We walked to see the ponies. (The Walk)

We fed the animals. (The Squeeze)

Do you remember the rabbit and guinea pigs? (The Squeeze)

We met your friends (The Half-Circle) Add names.

We sat under the tree in the sunshine. (The Half-Circle)

We went for a pony ride. (The Fan)

Eventually we went home. (The Circle)

Benefits of Nurturing Touch for Children

“Touch is the first sense to develop and the last to leave us,” says Barbara, “By developing massage stories such as Pony Club  whilst the child remains well it continues to be a source of pleasure and enjoyment for both the giver and receiver until the end of life.”

Barbara shares Story Massage as a way of encouraging siblings to enjoy happy times together. “Nurturing touch can release ‘happy’ hormones,” she says, “This can make everyone feel better in themselves and also help build confidence and resilience to cope during very stressful times. Story Massage is such a flexible programme of ten simple strokes that everyone can benefit. I love sharing it with families and carers so they can enjoy time together. They always comment on how it is so easy to access for their children and themselves – and how much fun and pleasure it can bring.”

Story Massage for a Children’s Hospice

During our Story Massage training days, we invite everyone to work together to adapt or create a massage story. As you can see from the video below, Barbara had a creative time working alongside Rosemary Barrett to write a massage story to welcome children and families into the new environment of a children’s hospice.

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. Stories can be taken from our Story Massage book, adapted from favourite stories or songs. or you can even create your own stories like Pony Club.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that Barbara is using nurturing touch for children with sensory impairments and life-limiting conditions? Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a one day accredited training courses held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions.  And we have a new online training option.

We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for teachers, SEN staff, support staff, therapists, Early Years practitioners, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

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