Caregiver massage program relaunches in new Sunderland space

  • Emma Golden, director of The Care Collaborative, and Teresa Anderson, licensed massage therapist, licensed practical nurse and instructor, in a treatment room at their Sunderland offices. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Suite 3 at the rear of 267 Amherst Road in Sunderland houses The Care Collaborative’s massage program. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 2/2/2022 2:06:21 PM
Modified: 2/2/2022 2:04:52 PM

SUNDERLAND — After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted The Care Collaborative’s newly launched massage program for in-home health aides, the organization is now relaunching the program in its new space in Sunderland.

The Giving Back Massage Therapies program, which is located at 267 Amherst Road, Suite 3, offers full-price massages to the public, which in turn subsidizes discounted massages for in-home health aides who are members of the organization’s Caregiver Program. Public massages are $40 for 30 minutes and $60 for an hour, while health aides can pay $15 for 30 minutes and $25 for an hour.

Emma Golden, director of The Care Collaborative, said the massage program is a way to give back to home health aides, who often work grueling hours for low pay.

“Caregivers do very physical work, and are chronically underpaid and undervalued,” Golden said. “One of the ways that we can take care of caregivers is by helping them take care of their bodies.”

The Care Collaborative’s massage program began in early 2019 and operated in the organization’s Giving Circle Thrift Shop in South Deerfield, which Golden said was kind of odd because nobody associates thrift shops with massage studios.

“Things have been wonky because of COVID, but we’re trying to kind of get back out there and reboot all these programs,” Golden said. “The (new) space is really nice and the more community members that come and get a massage, the more half-price massages we’ll be able to give to caregivers.”

The unique idea of providing massages for home health aides stems from The Care Collaborative’s mission to support in-home health care workers in a way that is financially viable.

“We’re not basing it off of any other model,” Golden said. “We just started trying it out based on what we hoped would work, and it has been successful.”

Golden said many of these workers, who cannot afford to take time off if hurt, work through the pain and cause further injuries that are not covered by insurance.

“Unfortunately, because of the repetitive nature of the work, back injuries or body injuries are often not covered by workers’ compensation insurance because there’s not a single incident in which injury occurred,” Golden said. “I think it’s just part of our vision. It was just like, ‘What are the different ways that we can support caregivers? What tools do we have? What skills do we have? And what’s something that would be really good for their bodies that is traditionally inaccessible financially?’”

As of right now, the Giving Back Massage Therapies program is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but Golden encourages people to call about other days of the week as she gauges public interest. A shower is also available at the studio for customers to clean themselves off if they attend their appointment straight from work.

To book an appointment, call 413-665-4835 or use the following link to book one online:

The Care Collaborative — formerly the Tripp Memorial Foundation — is a regional nonprofit that has served elders and caregivers for more than 20 years.

The Care Collaborative’s Caregiver Program is available to home health aides such as “certified nursing assistants, personal care aides and resident assistants,” according to the organization’s website. Members pay $30 a year and benefit from discounted massages, a 25% discount at the Giving Circle Thrift Shop, wellness programs and professional development opportunities. To become a member, visit the thrift shop in South Deerfield or call 413-350-5910.

“No one is turned away for a lack a funds,” Golden said about the program. “Caregivers deserve so much more than they get, so I’m glad that they have this option.”

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