Canuck Place Children's Hospice

Vancouver & Abbotsford, BC

Partially adopted by our
 generous donors

“As families struggle with increased levels of isolation, we are able to adapt in order to provide ongoing music therapy supports. [Music Therapist] Karin regularly offers Zoom sessions for children, either in groups or private sessions. Some of these children are grieving the death of their siblings; music proves to be a powerful and effective way to express their thoughts and emotions. Some of our inpatient children who are struggling with life-limiting illnesses, and in some cases receiving end-of-life care, request additional sessions with [Music Therapist] Karin for comfort and managing their anxieties. The children or youth often request their favourite songs to be sung. This can create a beautiful and sacred space for families to be with one another in these otherwise very difficult moments. Staff have also expressed gratitude as they share in the benefits of the music as it fills rooms and hallways, lifting spirits with each note…”

Linda Wollschlaeger-Fischer

Manager, Counseling and Bereavement Services

Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, various types of music therapy sessions were provided in-person including: small groups, family, one-to-one, outpatient, bedside care and home visit sessions. In March 2020, with the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, the music therapy program altered to offer many sessions virtually while still providing children and youth staying in hospice with one-to-one sessions and bedside care.

Sibling and parent in-person sessions were only available to those staying in hospice while the child or youth on the program received end-of-life care. Many sessions, including group, moved to virtual until restrictions began to lift to allow more in-person meetings and when siblings were welcome back to stay in-hospice for respite care as of July 2021.

Music Therapy sessions continue to be offered both in-person and virtually to best suit the needs of each child and family. While bereaved siblings requiring music therapy services received sessions via video-conferencing platforms since the start of the pandemic, it was recognized that younger children respond best when sessions are in-person and the team has worked to accommodate these families.


The population served in the Music Therapy program at Canuck Place is diverse, including children and youth of all ages and abilities with life limiting conditions and illnesses as well as their family members, e.g. parents, siblings and sometimes extended family members, both prior to the death of their loved one and after, in bereavement. The program provides care to families living in BC/Yukon.


0-19 as well as some adult family members

COVID-19 posed many problems for delivering a number of services in-person. With the rise in need for therapies to support the mental health of children and families, the counselling team, including music therapy, held more 1:1 sessions than previous years with an overall increase by 56% in 2020-21.

Healthy siblings who needed sessions due to the impact of their brother or sister’s condition or illness on their lives; bereaved siblings; and children and youth on our program but not staying at Canuck Place were offered video sessions as needed. Large group services were offered three times a month to children on our program, their siblings and bereaved siblings via secure video conference platform.

Navigating The Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Fortunately the music therapy program has been offered continuously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As per normal, sessions were provided two days a week each at the Vancouver and Abbotsford sites. Extra steps were taken to follow COVID-19 protocols including the therapist wearing a mask and sanitizing the music therapy room and equipment/instruments between sessions.

In-person bereavement group services have not been offered on-site since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Family group services have resumed as of early summer 2021 for those staying in-hospice for respite stay. (Previously in the pandemic, siblings were only able to stay in-hospice when a child on the program had reached end of life.)

With the offer of virtual sessions, the Canuck Place team worked to accommodate families who were in need of support and for children who had greatly benefited from music therapy. In early summer 2021, as COVID-19 numbers in BC began to improve, the majority of 1:1 sessions had been restored to taking place in-person. Virtual sessions have remained available to families in remote areas of the province that may not previously accessed the music therapy program or to those unable to travel to our hospices.

Your support will help sustain the current hours of the Music Therapist at 30 hrs/wk. Music Therapy sessions will continue to operate two days a week at the Abbotsford hospice and two days a week at our Vancouver hospice.

While in-person sessions have steadily increased with their planned re-opening phases, the hospice is expecting virtual sessions to continue for those who require/prefer them and as the pandemic resumes. These virtual sessions will also continue for families in more remote communities unable to travel for respite care.

Canuck Place continues to see an increase in new children and families on the program year over year. They expect additional participants in both our 1:1 and group sessions in 2022. They have seen a steady growth in this vital program and are pleased more children and families benefit from this therapy.

Tei-Anna has been receiving music therapy services since her first admission to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice over seven years ago. She has a seizure disorder and is developmentally delayed. She uses a wheelchair for mobility and has limited use of her arms, however she is able to grasp and hold small objects such as percussive instruments. Tei-Anna expresses her feelings clearly with animated facial expressions, vocalizations and arm movements. She has a beautiful bright smile that lights up a room. She loves to demonstrate how well she can play maracas and bells along with live music.

Music therapy allows her opportunities to express her feelings, feel a sense of accomplishment, follow directions, build and strengthen her grasp, and most importantly, enhance her quality of life

From Tei-Anna’s parents: “Music therapy has been an indispensable facet of our daughter’s healing and health. It is one of the few therapies wherein she can actively participate in sessions with a therapist …or in concert, with her peers. It brings her joy; brightens her affect, heals her soul. Thank you, [Music Therapist] Karin, for all the years of healing and delight you have brought to our daughter.”

Karin Roberts

Karin Roberts completed her Masters in Music Therapy in 2004 and became an Accredited Music Therapist (MTA) shortly thereafter. She worked in Long-Term Care with older adults from 2004 to 2014, managing the recreation therapy, music therapy and volunteer services department for 5 years. Since 2014, Karin has been the sole Music Therapist at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. During her time here, the Music Therapy program expanded from offering 15 hours of service per week at one site to 30 hours per week at two sites, in part due to Music Heals funding.

You can help us reach more Canadians with the healing power of music. We invite you to give the gift of music to provide hope, strength, relief and encouragement to Canadians in need.

No contribution is too small!