Massage & Myotherapy Australia have today called upon all political parties contesting seats in the Victorian state election to answer to what the community and doctors are telling them about the needs of palliative care patients.

Mrs. Hughes, Massage & Myotherapy Australia CEO, said that in the absence of adequate policies and funding that recognize their role, many professional therapists are asked to provide their services for free. In the long-term this is untenable. Among the palliative care community, massage is well known for its benefits in improving the quality of life of patients.

'User choice, anecdotal evidence, and a growing body of scientific evidence provide a solid foundation on which to formulate appropriate policies around palliative massage therapy. Often, massage fills the gap when patients seek alternatives to medications and other therapies because they feel that message is more appropriate to their needs.

Palliative Care

However, leaving it up to palliative care patients or their carers to find a qualified professional is no longer a responsible government response, when there is a large pool of qualified professionals in Victoria.

A recent Australian study found that the complementary medicine workforce provides substantial levels of clinical care in many important areas of health.  However, limited access is available to therapists who are accredited individually and who provide fee-for-service therapy. 

Hospice Setting

While this is expanding, with some large metropolitan hospitals actively establishing massage services in a hospice setting, involving contractors or employed staff, the number of well-trained palliative or end-of-life care therapists is small, with demand often outstripping supply.

Studies have found that: a Massage is a useful tool for improving symptom management and reducing suffering in palliative care patients. Studies have found that:

  1. Many palliative care services now offer massage to a complementary therapy-most often with the goal of improving the well being of patients and their wellbeing of patients and their wellbeing carer of patients and their carers
  2.  Following massage, patients note short-term changes in symptoms, a decrease in pain intensity and anxiety, and an improvement in patients' sense of relaxation and feelings of inner, patients note short-term changes in symptoms, a decrease in pain intensity and anxiety, and an improvement in patients' sense of relaxation and feelings of inner peace
  3.  Massage therapy has been shown to reduce the subjectively-perceived symptom of pain in oncological patients receiving palliative care and remission of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  4. The overall safety and the acceptance of massage to palliative care patients have been proved by the uptake of these therapies by the uptake of these therapies within services
  5. In their 2008 review of published literature to determine the prevalence of undertreatment in cancer pain,  under-treatment in cancer pain.

Palliative Care Settings

Funding to extend massage services in palliative care settings will have a direct positive impact on the quality of life of palliative care patients, and it is time that policy-makers at the state level important and vital role.