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Transforming Relationships Through the Power of Compassionate Touch
Alicia Fenstermacher

By: Alicia Fenstermacher on November 5th, 2020

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Transforming Relationships Through the Power of Compassionate Touch

Health & Aging  |  Housing & Development

PSL is pleased to provide Compassionate Touch® during this pandemic to reduce resident loneliness, build relationships, and enhance engagement. Compassionate Touch® is an evidence-informed approach combining skilled touch with compassionate presence to enhance quality of life.

It is a way of relating that helps bring true change to our elders' lives through the power of human touch. The gentle techniques used in Compassionate Touch® include hand massage, slow-stroke back massage, and foot massage. Compassionate Touch® brings together the world of medical technology with the human side of care—transforming relationships.senior-hand-massage-compassionate-touch

Compassionate Touch® starts with the approach—asking permission to spend time with the individual and offering to help relieve tension in their back, feet, or hands with a gentle touch. Being present and focused is going beyond being task-centered. It changes the focus from procedural touch to human touch. This conveys that we not only care for the individual but also care about the individual. It builds relationships and increases trust between residents and their caregivers. 

During a 2019 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Program grant that AGEucate received in North Carolina, 66 nursing homes participated in the grant, training, and research. The following data results were reported in March 2020 by AGEucate from this project:

  • Reported a 28.5% decrease in physical behavior with residents living with dementia.
  • Reported a 28.2% decrease in verbal behaviors toward others in residents living with dementia.
  • Reported a 24.2% decrease in the presence of other behavioral symptoms not directed at others.
  • Reported 22.8% decrease in presence and frequency of rejection of care
  • Changes in antipsychotic medication usage reported an 18% reduction.

PSL has over 100+ certified Compassionate Touch® trainers on our team. They work to train others who work, volunteer, or visit a loved one at PSL in the techniques. We have partnered with AGEucate since 2015 to bring Compassionate Touch® to the residents. senior-shoulder-massage-compassionate-touch

We are pleased to now be able to bring Compassionate Touch® to our employee training platform so that all team members in our nursing and community life departments will have the training in December 2020 and annually after that.  

At present, the following Presbyterian Senior Living locations are certified Compassionate Touch® communities:

View our SlideShare on the healing power of touch and how it can be used to transform relationships.


Interested in learning more about our various communities? Check out our interactive community chooser and find your perfect match!

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About Alicia Fenstermacher

Alicia Fenstermacher has been working in Aging Services for over 20 years, 14 years of which have been with PSL. As the Senior Corporate Director of Purposeful Living, Alicia is responsible for supporting successful aging, quality of life, and purposeful living initiatives such as Wellness, Customer Satisfaction, Memory Care, Social Work Services, Culture Change, and Community Life. She is a licensed Social Worker, licensed Nursing Home Administrator, and licensed Personal Care Home Administrator. Alicia lives in the Lehigh Valley with her husband Jeff, son Mattias, stepson Maverick, and two dogs named Freddie Mercury and Bebe’ Le Strange. Passionate about the importance of relationships and individual empowerment, Alicia is all about embracing our own “unique-us.”