Healing at Home

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By: Eva-Marie Batschko

"The Future belongs to free communities of destiny-related people. "

For the past ten years we have run a therapeutic care facility, a way station between hospital and home in Hamburg, Germany. Our facility, the Therapeutikum Hamburg, consists of four rooms with four beds, available to new mothers or as temporary relief for people whose relatives can no longer take care of them. In addition we care for people in their own homes. Our work depends on insurance coverage and since this is becoming more restrictive we are already looking for new ways to continue in future.

A large part of our treatment con­sists of what may be called "external ap­plications," a specialty of the anthroposophical approach to health care. We apply healing substances to the skin to stimulate the inner healing im­pulses. These applications are prescribed by physicians. They are helpful in most cases of illness.

Our work also includes basic care such as washing and oil rubbings and it makes wonderful demands on our cre­ative faculties and powers of perception (has the child's cough become fixed in pneumonia or is it loose?) Our active participation in the course of an illness is a great help to the physician who some­times need not even visit the patient... it is based on trust and shared responsibil­ity.

If a patient, child or adult, goes home to be cared for by family, it is our task to teach both what this will mean. One's personal life has to be adjusted considerably; yet a chance is given to learn something new about one another. Par­ticularly challenging is when children undertake to care for their parents ... they carry their childhood on their back and see the weaknesses and failings of mother or father in a reversal of an old relation­ship. 'I am now responsible for this per­son who may have treated me badly in my youth.' Caring means meeting each other in a whole new way. Ideally a rec­onciliation takes place with a refreshed perspective on living together.

Frequently we find situations in which patient and caregiver are overly taxed. For example a wife might beat her sick husband because he makes demands on her. Confronted by this new develop­ment in an old relationship she is sud­denly in a position of control. She abuses it, thus showing her own limitations. Many care situations become untenable due to such familial relationships.

One way out is the 'old folks home' or professional care facility, with all its inherent problems. The most basic is fi­nancial. Imagine the person who has al­ways been active and independent and now realizes that his pension won't pay for a retirement home and even less for help at home. Then there is the question of quality of life in the 'monoculture' of retirement or other care facilities. What happens when elderly people live to­gether and their permanent view is a mir­ror of themselves? Any accumulation of sameness makes for depression. Most people become resigned in such an envi­ronment and say they don't want to con­tinue living, which means that they are really wondering whether they still have worth, or are still loved.

We must develop ideas that have a future perspective. In my view, the time of 'blood-relationships' where people live in a small circle from childhood to old age, is over. I am convinced that we must find new ways based on free initia­tive; where people who feel related through destiny, can find their way to one another, wanting to live and work to­gether out of free choice.

To choose freely, to decide again and again to take up a person in need of care into my life circumstance, this opens quite different sources of strength than feeling forced to care for father or mother, simply because they have reared me.

Eva-Marie Batschko is a registered nurse and co-founder of the Therapeutikum Hamburg West. Her address is Juergensallee 47, 22609 Hamburg, Germany.


This article has been translated and reprinted with kind permission of Weleda Nachrichten, Germany.

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