November 6, 2017

LightBridge Hospice Brings a Unique Approach to Care at End of Life

Not everyone is aware of these non-traditional but very effective therapeutic interventions including: Pet Therapy, Music and Memory™, Healing Touch™, Reiki, Supportive Art, Certified Harp Therapy, Supportive Music, and Aromatherapy. 

In addition to the therapeutic value, our wide variety of integrative therapies reflects the patient’s choice and therapeutic needs. These programs are valuable in giving patients the opportunity to make important choices in their care and improve their quality of life during their final days.

Understanding Integrative Therapies

Integrative therapies complement traditional medical models; they are non-medical ways of addressing symptoms. They have been known to reduce agitation, anxiety, and discomfort; relieve nausea and insomnia; encourage life review and communication; create connections between patients, their loved ones, and caregivers; and have been observed to ease a patient’s transition to end of life.  Our integrative therapies are much more than pain and symptom management; they help create powerful connections that address a patient’s mental and emotional needs, as well. 

Recently, one of our therapy dogs was “wagging” his magic around a room full of people. On the far side of the room sat our patient, who has been without his sight for years, with a huge smile on his face. He shared with our nurse that this was his “no dog can resist me face;” as simple as a pet’s love may be, what joy it brought this patient!

Integrative Therapies at LightBridge Hospice

One of the things that makes LightBridge unique is that all our integrative therapies are provided only by our specially trained volunteers and staff. Once a patient, family member, or caregiver expresses an interest in an integrative therapy it is added to the patient’s individualized plan of care by the treatment team. Each patient’s unique needs and preferences are documented so that every staff member and volunteer who interacts with them can provide consistent and meaningful care. 

Our therapies are designed to help alleviate patient symptoms while giving patients the power of choice to customize their treatment. Here’s a look at the wide variety of integrative therapies we offer at LightBridge.


Each of our staff members and volunteers has an aromatherapy kit composed completely of 100% essential oils. The different scents are selected by a Certified Aroma Therapist and can be used to reduce anxiety and insomnia; others can be spiritually elevating or help provide inner clarity.

We also work with the patients to select a scent that is meaningful to them and may facilitate their ability to recall fond memories. For example, we have found that patients in Southern California are drawn to orange oil because it reminds them of the orange groves in the region.

Certified Harp Therapy

Our Certified Harp Therapist (CHT) has a unique ability to match the music he plays with a patient’s personal resonance as they speak/sing to him and remarkable things happen. A patient with mental illness was experiencing such severe agitation she would not allow anyone to touch her and began developing bedsores.  After trying several approaches to providing the needed care with no success, her care team had the Harp therapist visit her. She took one look at the harp and said, “Ahhh, the harp, music from the Angels”. As he played she sat upright and began singing German lullabies. She remained calm for several days after the harp therapy and was able to successfully receive the much needed care from her hospice team. 

Music & Memory 

Our management team was inspired by the documentary Alive Inside, to achieve certification for LightBridge as a Music & Memory site. At the completion of training and certification, we were recognized as one of only six certified hospices in the country. Through this program, which uses a personalized “play list” of a patient’s favorite songs, it has been demonstrated that patients with dementia can actually retrieve memories and talk about them even after they have been withdrawn or non-verbal. 

Pet Therapy 

We have a team of Certified Pet Therapy dogs that visit with patients. These visits can decrease a patient’s stress and agitation, lower their blood pressure, and increase socialization particularly for patients with dementia but the most remarkable impact is the joy, playfulness, and unconditional love we see our patients receive from these special “therapists.” 

Healing Touch

Healing Touch is a certified program that uses light touch or near-body touch to clear and balance human energy systems. It has been known to relieve stress, pain, fear, and anxiety through compassionate connections for both patients and their families and caregivers.  Patients who have been agitated and uncomfortable are frequently able to transition very peacefully after receiving healing touch.


Reiki is a Japanese healing technique based on the principle that the patient’s own energy can activate the natural healing processes of their body. It has been shown to reduce stress, increase relaxation, and promote physical and emotional wellbeing. It can help strengthen the relationship between the patient and caregiver and alleviate symptoms associated with that patient’s illness. 

Supportive Art Activities

Studies have shown when a Certified Healing Art Facilitator (CHAF) creates art with an artistic patient, the therapeutic benefit for that patient who no longer has the ability to hold a brush or pen, etc. mirrors the experience and satisfaction of creating it themselves. This therapy can also create interactive moments between patients and their art facilitator.

We also offer collaging for life review. Patients are given the chance to choose meaningful pictures and images—military symbols, professions, family, pets, hobbies, and collectibles—to compile onto a collage. Patients often experience positive memories and enjoy the social interaction.

Supportive Music Program 

We have a number of volunteer musicians and vocalists who share their talents with our patients. We also provide musical instruments to our patients who prefer to make their own music; we’ve found that it helps reduce stress and provide stimulation and enjoyment.

Patient care at LightBridge Hospice is about helping patients live life to its fullest. Integrative therapies are a way to provide patients the power to individualize their care and enjoy life. To learn more about our integrative therapies and individualized approach to care, visit LightBridge Hospice & Palliative Care online or call (858) 458-2992. 

If you’re interested in volunteering at LightBridge and bringing these joyful, hopeful moments to patients, visit our volunteer page to submit an online volunteer application.