Music Therapy is an important part of care at BC Children’s Hospital and is highly utilized and valued by patients and families. Music and relaxation techniques administered by a music therapist provide comfort and distraction during procedures or help manage the side effects of treatment. Playing, exploring or learning a musical instrument and singing songs often alleviates tension, provides meaningful interactions for families, and offers a much needed physical and emotional outlet.
The children who stay in the hospital have to wait for a number of procedures such as heart surgery, orthopedic procedures, neurosurgery, skin grafts, and more. Music therapist Michaela also works with children having a burn bath which is a painful procedure to help new skin grow after a bad burn. Music can help to calm them before and after procedures, or while sedatives or anesthesia are being administered. But it’s not limited to pre-or post-surgery. For example, one child was consistently having a hard time taking his oral medication. Together with the music therapist, they wrote a song together that included a countdown to swallowing the pills. By taking charge through music, he was able to swallow his pills with no trouble after that.
With ongoing distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, group music therapy sessions continue to be paused. Instead, the team has focused on individual sessions with patients at their bedsides, where they are needed most. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of meaningful connection, emotional expression, and opportunities for normalcy. Music Therapists don PPE before entering patient rooms where they happily provide live sessions with patients. Over this past year, they have seen more and more patients isolated in their rooms and who are being diagnosed with complex mental health conditions. Music can be a catalyst for emotional expression and helps children and youth who are struggling with anxiety, depression and pain.
BC Children’s Hospital serves children throughout BC and the Yukon—nearly one million children rely on BC Children’s to receive expert care that’s tailored to their needs.
It’s clear the pandemic has been particularly hard on children’s mental health. For example, a recent study conducted by researchers at BC Children’s found that two-thirds of children and youth in British Columbia are struggling with mild to moderate mental health challenges during the pandemic. Compound that with the stress of being in hospital, with limited visitors, children can feel isolated and scared. Younger children, especially, can be wary when everyone entering the room is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). It is more important than ever to be able to provide music therapy, reducing fear and anxiety by bringing instruments right into patient rooms. Creating music at the bedside provides support, connection and a much-needed outlet for emotional expression.
Your support will sustain one full day of music therapy service (7.5 hours per week) at BC Children’s Hospital.
An average of 4-6 patients per week would be seen with this funding.
The Music Therapy Program at BC Children’s Hospital is completely donor-funded, relying on donors like you to make sure that the most critically ill patients receive music therapy services during their often lengthy hospital stays. Your support of their Music Therapy Program will help to ensure that more children, youth and families have access to music therapy support when they need it most.
“As I approached a room, the nurse acknowledged me but wondered if music therapy would have much appeal to an 18-year-old who was sedated for pain. Mom welcomed me and began to tell me about her son’s love for singing. She shared that his favorite artist was Beyoncé. I began to play Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ and Mom tearfully exclaimed ‘that’s his favorite song.’ The teen turned towards me. Keeping his eyes closed, he softly whispered ‘play more songs.’ The nurse glanced at the monitor and noticed the patient’s elevated heart rate had decreased. Now more relaxed, he was ready to re-attempt a challenging medical procedure. Through the therapeutic use of melody, rhythm and meaningful lyrics, the patient and I worked together to focus on the music, bring awareness to his breath, and imagine himself singing. The procedure went well, and the nurse commented ‘what a powerful intervention music can be.’ Everyone, regardless of age or ability, can benefit from the unique healing elements of music.”
– Brooke Angus, Music Therapist