On this field trip to a local assisted living facility, students gained experience with older clients
On Wednesday, April 18, a group of massage therapy students from the Cherry Hill campus of the Harris School of Business took a special field trip that provided them valuable experience. Cherry Hill instructor Mira Muse says that, at the Weston Club at Sagemore in Marlton, NJ, “the residents are always glad to see the Harris massage students!” Several times a year for the past three years, Muse has brought students to this local assisted living facility, where they provide chair massages to the residents. The students have a chance to practice techniques they’ve learned in a class called “Assessments and Special Populations.” This is a class where, along with learning about prenatal clients and sports massages, students find out about the specific needs of geriatric clients.
Muse has found that this field trip can be essential in helping students to become more at ease working with geriatric clients. “Even though it’s part of the massage therapy curriculum to learn geriatric massage, sometimes the students are a little apprehensive about working with an elderly client,” she says. “This trip allows them to safely practice massage on the geriatric demographic, while they receive supervision.”
Muse had a relationship with the Weston Club through its previous program director, Deby Hilbert, who just recently retired. The new program director, Carol Duba, is just as pleased that she can offer residents the chance to sign up for 15-minutes slots in the massage chair. The Weston Club is an over-55 living facility, and the patients there have a range of physical needs. The Harris students set up in a room that is adjacent to other recreational facilities onsite, including a pool and a fitness center. For this visit, each student had the chance to massage three or four different residents.
Muse continues, “The students get an amazing hands-on experience while understanding the importance of touch and conversation for a specific type of client.” She points out that the interaction serves a dual purpose; the residents are often overjoyed to have a visit, to talk, and to receive a compassionate touch that many of them—especially those living alone—may no longer receive on a daily basis. “The students learn about the impact that therapeutic touch can have on someone’s day—and on their overall wellbeing,” Muse says. She’s noticed that, at the end of the day, the students feel appreciated and are no longer apprehensive.
Some students have even developed meaningful relationships with residents as a result of their time together. One student received an invitation to client’s 100th birthday party. Another student teared up listening to a client talk about her experience as a Holocaust survivor, and the two of them ended their time together with a dance. Muse notes that students consistently say this trip in particular is one of their favorites. “In fact,” she says, “it’s such a successful experience that many students ask about opportunities for them to come back on their own as a volunteer.”
This article is part of the weekly blog of the Harris School of Business. We are dedicated to helping all our students strive to meet their personal and professional goals. We offer a number of career training programs at our eight campuses in New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Reach out to us for more information, or to schedule a tour.