- Meet Consumers/Patients
|Newsletters: Integrative Medicine|
Ellen Wilson, PT
At the Oley Consumer/Clinician Annual Conference in June, Ellen Wilson led a breakout session called “Urban Zen” with a team from UCLA Medical Center that included Tara McColeman, RN; Julie Walden, RN; Lynn Leslie, RT; and Katie Anderson, RN. Conference attendees loved it. One commented, “Wonderful! I think every medical model should consider adopting it!” Another said, “I believe I have found my calling. I want to be trained to do this and volunteer my time at the hospitals. This is great!”
The session was so popular, we asked Ellen to tell us more about Urban Zen and how the program is implemented at UCLA. For more information on the UCLA program and several research articles about integrative therapies, visit www.rehab.ucla.edu; for the Urban Zen Foundation, visit www.urbanzen.org or call (212) 414-8520.
UCLA Health System has a long history of integrative medicine offerings, including the Center for East West Medicine, the Sims/Mann Integrative Oncology Center, and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. Recently, UCLA added to these services for inpatients through an innovative collaboration with the Urban Zen Foundation.
The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program was founded in part by designer Donna Karan. She was impressed by the profoundly effective complementary therapy techniques provided to her husband when he was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. Seeing how these techniques complemented traditional medical care, Ms. Karan made it one of her goals to spread these techniques to health care and wellness providers across the country.
The terms “integrative” and “complementary” refer to practices that treat the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—and which complement traditional western medicine. These natural healing techniques encourage relaxation, focus, and spiritual or emotional balance, all of which can help speed recovery and can provide symptom relief. The techniques used in Urban Zen include in-bed yoga (including restorative poses); Reiki (therapeutic touch); aroma therapy with essential oils; mindfulness/meditation and body scan techniques; and self-care. In addition, patients are taught how to practice these techniques on themselves, to promote self-care and additional strategies for symptom control. Caregivers, too, use the techniques for their own self-care, in order to be calm and more present for their patients or loved ones. Once learned, the techniques can be used for lifelong wellness.
One of our patients who was treated with Reiki said, “That really worked! The Reiki was so relaxing. I feel like that’s the first thing somebody has done for me as a person since I came to the hospital.”
Another wrote, “I was discharged after spending six days receiving continuous infusion chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The care was excellent, but as part of my treatment I was placed on high dose prednisone, a cardiac monitor, a PICC line, and exposed to frequent interruptions of sleep due to blood draws, ambient hospital noise, and other stimuli. I received Urban Zen techniques on two occasions, which demonstrated basic, effective methods of dealing with the stressors I was encountering as part of my hospital experience. I wish to express my gratitude for the help I received from the Urban Zen program and hope that the program’s true value will be recognized and respected as an instrumental part of providing excellent healthcare.”
The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program includes an in-depth training curriculum, and UCLA has been able to provide this training to its employees. Training in Urban Zen techniques is offered as an adjunct to the clinical skills the employee already possesses. To be accepted for the training, employees must have direct patient care responsibility and have prior experience with integrative therapy techniques (privately or professionally). Once the employee completes the classroom training and supervised clinical practice, he or she is certified as an Urban Zen therapist and can work independently with patients or their family members.
To comply with hospital requirements, a policy was developed for the program and passed by the medical staff committees. Additionally, initial and annual competency forms were developed, as well as guidelines for ongoing mentoring and support. As more employees are trained, a buddy system will be developed, so experienced Urban Zen therapists can mentor newer ones.
Inclusion criteria and precautions were developed; these allow the bedside nurse to approve a patient’s participation. A physician order is not generally required, unless the patient falls outside the inclusion criteria. Documentation is done by the bedside nurse, and the techniques are provided free of charge.
So far, eighty-six UCLA employees have been trained. Participants have included physicians, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, social workers, radiology technicians, and others. UCLA’s goal is to have two hundred employees trained, so an Urban Zen therapist will be “available on every floor, every shift, to provide the techniques in the moment patients need it.” Currently, the eighty-six trained cannot keep up with the demand, and there is a waiting list of close to two hundred employees interested in the training. There is interest in providing this care as a routine part of the preoperative area, as well as for the oncology and cardiothoracic populations.
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