Positive Touch Activities in Palliative Care

The Story Massage Programme is bringing the benefits of positive touch activities in palliative care. Our online training course has been completed by staff and volunteers at hospices all over the country. If you’re currently working or volunteering in a hospice then read on to find out why the Story Massage  Programme plays such a valuable part in therapeutic interactions in palliative care.

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What is the Story Massage Programme?

The Story Massage Programme involves the use of ten simple massage movements (through clothes), which are associated with spoken words to build up an engaging story. Tracing a large circle on a child’s back, for example, can depict the sun, while raking with the fingers can represent lion’s claws. Storylines and massage moves can be adapted easily to suit the individual needs of different children. The programme is so accessible, with no preparation necessary, that it can be shared wherever and whenever the time feels right. And it can take as little as a couple of minutes or last as long as you wish.


The Story Massage Programme at a Children’s Hospice

Angela Garrett, Complementary Therapies Co-ordinator with Shooting Star Chase, a group of children’s hospices in Surrey, is a trained Story Massage Instructor. After training, she immediately began working one-to-one with children approaching the end of their lives, and found it brought a beautiful sense of calm and peace. She then introduced the idea to parents and grandparents, encouraging them to work with the children’s favourite stories, or even creating their own massage stories especially written for the child.

Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice were awarded our Story Massage Centre of Excellence in September 2016. Five members of staff are now trained and it is used regularly with children and their families. They celebrated their success with a special cake!

You can see a video of Angela talking about the benefits of the Story Massage Programme at a Children’s Hospice:

The Story Massage Programme at an Adult Hospice

Massage stories are not just for children. We’ve been working with staff at care homes, hospitals and hospices to introduce ways of adapting and using the programme with people with dementia. The familiarity of stories combined with the gentle nurturing power of touch can bring comfort, ease restlessness and maybe even prompt some happy memories.

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We’ve received this moving feedback from Denise James, a complementary therapist in Scotland.

‘I have been privileged to work with a lady in her 30s who has primary school age children. She is a palliative patient. The storytelling massage has given her something positive to share with her daughter; she is so excited. They are going to write a story together based on their favourite story and create a picture storybook with massage movements to share with each other. She plans to keep this in her daughter’s memory box so that in years to come she can have a very positive memory of how she helped her mummy.’

More about the Story Massage Programme

The Story Massage Programme combines the fun and reassurance of story with the benefits of positive, respectful touch. It is enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These strokes have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol (as shown in Emma’s massage story) making it accessible for all.

It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. The online training is ideal for therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing sensory stories and positive touch activities with children and adults. All the information is here: Story Massage Online Training


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